5. Keep ridin’ that wave. Yes, it’s true that the Bruins were less than a minute away from being eliminated by Toronto in the first round. But they weren’t, and since that miracle comeback victory they’ve been on a white-hot tear, losing only an overtime Game 4 to the Rangers while prevailing in every other postseason game since then (9 out of 10). The Blackhawks were impressive in the conference semifinals against rival Detroit, batting back to win the final three games and capturing that series before dispatching the defending Cup champs from LA in five games. Boston has beaten better competition — how could anyone argue their sweep of the Penguins wasn’t the playoffs’ most impressive feat to date? — and that could feeling should continue now.
6. It’s meant to be. Call it fate, destiny, a preconceived notion ... whatever you want. But just as they did two years ago, the stars of the hockey universe have seemingly aligned in Boston’s favor once again. The Blackhawks are a fantastic, supremely skilled, well coached club ... that just happens to be playing the absolute last team you want to see lined up against you in the Stanley Cup finals. Boston Strong, indeed.
Phil Stacey is the sports editor of The Salem News.
agateHed:Boston Bruins (12-4) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (12-5) agate_boldCentered:Projected Lineups BOSTON BRUINS CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton Patrick Sharp-Jonathan Toews-Marian Hossa Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Jaromir Jagr Bryan Bickell-Michal Handzus-Patrick Kane Kaspars Daugavins-Rich Peverley-Tyler Seguin Brandon Saad-Dave Bolland-Andrew Shaw Daniel Paille-Chris Kelly-Shawn Thornton Brandon Bollig-Marcus Kruger-Michael Frolik Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg Duncan Keith-Brett Seabrook Andrew Ference-Johnny Boychuk Michal Rozsival-Nick Leddy Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid Johnny Oduya-Niklas Hjalmarsson Tuukka Rask Corey Crawford agateText:Analysis: For the second straight series, the Bruins will be facing a team with more overall skill and speed, one with perhaps the league's best puck-moving defensive corps and a tradition as rich and proud as their own. But while the Blackhawks came out of the gates roaring and set NHL records for games played without a regulation loss to begin the season, the Bruins are the ones playing their absolute best hockey when it matters most. That'll be the deciding factor when Lord Stanley's mug is finally raised. agateText:PREDICTION: I picked the Bruins to beat Chicago for the Cup in print before the season began and again prior to the start of the playoffs; I'm not changing my mind now. Bruins in 7.