It's the most exciting time of year for many sports fans. Why? Maybe a simple hashtag being promoted by NBC can answer that question, #BecauseItsTheCup.
As if playoff hockey and the Stanley Cup Final wasn't action packed enough, this year the Dance of all Dances includes not only the two best teams going head to head, but the first time two original six teams have battled for the Cup since 1979.
In the Boston Bruins, you have big, bad boogeymen who can score and play solid d. Sidney Crosby continues to awake screaming in the night from the devastating sweep Boston smacked down on the Penguins.
In the Chicago Blackhawks, you have a team that not only outskates all its competitors and line after line of skilled depth, but a team that through out the season and especially in the playoffs looked diversity in the eye and said, "What's up baby? You wanna get a sandwich?"
After the embarrassing sweep of the Penguins, people forget that Boston's back was against the wall against a questionable Toronto Maple Leafs team earlier in the playoffs. People also ignore the vast difference in competitiveness between the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. When it comes to tougher hockey, the West is the best (yuck).
When analyzing both teams, the edge goes to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final. Although Boston is bigger and badder, the Blackhawks have more skill across the board. Also, it will be remarkable if the Bruins are able to keep up with the Hawks' pace for the duration of any game, let alone the whole series.
The Blackhawks just knocked out a big and skilled team in the LA Kings. Although the Bruins may be a slight upgrade from LA, the Blackhawks triumphed over the rough stuff in their series with LA and Detroit. They have the skill and they have the speed.
You can bet 6'9 950 lb Zdeno Chara will be used to extinguish Hat-Trick Kane's fire and that the poor man's Jonathan Toews (Patrice Bergeron) will limit the production of Chicago's captain. Enter Bryan Bickell.
Bickell has been en fuego this off season as well, with his extra servings of grit and goals (8). While Boston presses the Blackhawks' veteran stars, Bick may be able to continue to catapult his dirty wrister through out the Stanley Cup Final.
Both Stanley Cup Final goaltenders have been clutch for their team so its tough to say which one is likely to let more pucks sneak by them. Both Crawford and Rask are expected by many to win the Conn Smythe for either of their possibly triumphant teams.
It will indeed be a tough, hard-fought, low-scoring Stanley Cup Final, but I predict the Blackhawks will again win their first two home games of the series and will win the Cup in front of their fans in Game 5.
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