Stanley Cup finals preview capsule
No. 1 (West) Chicago Blackhawks (36-7-5) vs. No. 4 (East) Boston Bruins (28-14-6)
Playoff History: Boston leads, 5-1. Last meeting: Boston, 4-0, in 1978 quarterfinals.
How they got here: Boston defeated No. 5 Toronto, 4-3; defeated No. 6 New York Rangers, 4-1; defeated No. 1 Pittsburgh, 4-0. Chicago defeated No. 8 Minnesota, 4-1; defeated No. 7 Detroit Red Wings, 4-3; defeated No. 5 Los Angeles, 4-1.
CHICAGO: The Blackhawks ensured the first Stanley Cup finals matchup between Original Six franchises since Montreal and the New York Rangers in 1979 when Patrick Kane’s double overtime goal eliminated the defending champion Kings in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals. Original Six teams have won the Cup nine times since then. Detroit claimed four titles, Montreal grabbed two, and the Rangers, Chicago and Boston won one each. Toronto is the only original club to be shut out in that span. The Maple Leafs haven’t won the Cup since 1967. ... This marks the first time Chicago has faced Boston in the finals. ... The last meeting between the clubs was Oct. 15, 2011 – a 3-2 shootout victory by Boston. Chicago is 238-259-81 against Boston in regular-season play. ... Bryan Bickell recorded at least one point in each game vs. Los Angeles (3 goals, 4 assists), including two assists in Game 5. He has eight goals in 17 games this postseason after netting only nine in 48 regular-season games. ... Blackhawks have killed 55 of 58 postseason power plays. ... Corey Crawford leads playoff goalies with a 1.74 goals-against average and is second with a .935 save percentage. He has allowed two or fewer goals in five of his last six starts and seven of nine appearances. He is 0-1-1 with a 2.40 goals-against average and .930 save percentage against the Bruins. ... Marian Hossa has seven playoff goals, including six that gave the Blackhawks the lead. The other was a tying goal. Of his 43 career postseason goals, 22 have put his team ahead (51.2 percent). It is the highest percentage among active players with at least 40 postseason goals and the fourth-highest in NHL history. All but four of his goals were scored in wins – including his past 18. ... Patrick Sharp is tied for the team lead with 14 playoff points and is second in the league with eight goals. He had only six in 28 regular-season games. ... Chicago hopes home-ice advantage continues through the finals. Home teams are 56-24 (.700) in these playoffs, three shy of matching the NHL record for home wins in one playoff year, set in 92 games in 1991. The Blackhawks are 9-1 at home this postseason – including five straight – and 6-1 in one-goal games.
BOSTON: Tuukka Rask will again be at the center of attention for the Bruins, but he will be hard-pressed to match his performance against the high-powered Penguins when he allowed only two goals in the sweep. Rask set the club record for fewest goals yielded in a four-game series, topping the mark of five established against the Montreal Maroons in the 1930 semifinals and matched against Toronto in the 1969 quarterfinals. Rask is first in the NHL with a .943 postseason save percentage this year and second with a 1.75 goals-against average. ... Boston is doing just fine on offense, too, getting plenty of goals and points from forwards and defensemen. David Krejci leads the league with nine playoff goals and 21 points. He has posted 75 points in 68 career playoff games. His linemate Nathan Horton is second in the NHL with 17 points in 16 games this postseason. On defense, Adam McQuaid’s goal in Boston’s 1-0 win over Pittsburgh in Game 4 was the 15th scored by Bruins defensemen and the 35th point recorded by the backliners. The defensemen have 35 of Boston’s 138 points (25.4 percent) and 30 percent of the team’s 50 goals in the playoffs. Johnny Boychuk is second among NHL defensemen with five goals, and rookie Torey Krug is third with four. Hulking captain Zdeno Chara holds the team lead with 11 points – including nine assists. ... Jaromir Jagr, a Stanley Cup champion in 1991 and 1992 with Pittsburgh, is in the finals for the first time since then. He will play in the same city as his most recent finals game: Pittsburgh 6, Chicago 5 in Game 4 of the 1992 series. Jagr has 196 career playoff points in 196 games (78 goals, 118 assists), putting him in a fifth-place tie with Paul Coffey on the NHL career list.
OUTLOOK: Chicago posted the NHL’s best record in the regular season. Boston and Rask are playing the best right now. Bruins in 6.