Writers from around the Tribune Co. will predict which team -- the Chicago Blackhawks or Boston Bruins -- will win the NHL's Stanley Cup final. Join the conversation by voting in the poll and leaving a comment of your own.
Matt Vensel, Baltimore Sun
This year’s Stanley Cup final figures to be a tight, exciting series between two teams with deep offenses, sturdy defenses and stingy goaltenders.
The Blackhawks dethroned the Los Angeles Kings in five games to win the West. Each game was close, but Chicago, which took Game 5 on Patrick Kane’s double-OT game-winner, took the series because of their elite skill up front.
Meanwhile, the Bruins bullied the Pittsburgh Penguins, embarrassing the consensus favorites from the East in a four-game sweep. With goalie Tuukka Rask shutting out Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Bruins outscored the Penguins, 12-2, in the series.
This one could go either way, but I’ll say the Blackhawks win in 7.
Hockey fans should also be big winners after the Blackhawks and Bruins steamrolled their opponents in the conference finals. Buckle up your chin straps and enjoy it.
Harvey Fialkov, South Florida Sun Sentinel
Ever since the Bruins sent long-suffering Leafs fans to the loony bin when they stormed back from three goals down in Game 7 of their first-round series, they’re flying. The Bs lead the postseason in fewest goals allowed and are second to Pittsburgh in an offense spearheaded by David Krejci and Nathan Horton. A shot-blocking defensive corps anchored by Zdeno Chara helped blossoming goalie Tuukka Rask shut down the Penguins' top-ranked power play (0-for-15), including superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. However, they’ll sorely miss Gregory Campbell on the PK.
The Blackhawks are soaring behind hot goalie Corey Crawford, the top-ranked PK unit and two top lines led by a resurgent Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp. But the Bruins will sip "chowdah" from the Lord Stanley Cup for the second time in three years as they take this Original Six showdown in seven grueling games.
[Updated at 11 a.m.:
Chirs Kuc, Chicago Tribune
In what is shaping up to be a battle for the ages in the first Stanley Cup Final between Original Six franchises since 1979, the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins will be getting their initial looks at each other this season. The NHL lockout robbed teams and fans of the opportunity to experience firsthand opponents from the other conference. That is a big wild card when the puck drops in Game 1 on Wednesday night at the United Center and the teams enter the great unknown.
Both squads are talented at both ends of the ice, have red-hot goaltenders in Corey Crawford for the Blackhawks and the Bruins’ Tuukka Rask, are experienced, well-coached and are peaking at the right time. Throw in two great American cities hosting hockey’s biggest event and the stage is set for what could be a classic. When it’s all said and done, home-ice advantage will be the deciding factor and the Blackhawks will hoist the Cup following Game 7 at the United Center.]
[Updated at 1:38 p.m.:
Helene Elliott, Los Angeles Times
This is being billed as a classic matchup between two Original Six teams, but there's a modern twist to the path the Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins took to get here. The Blackhawks had to rebuild after salary-cap problems forced them to shed about a dozen secondary and support players following their 2010 Stanley Cup triumph, and it has taken them three years of careful development and cap management to regain the depth and character(s) they lost.
The Bruins have undergone some changes since 2011, too, most notably establishing Tuukka Rask in goal after Tim Thomas retired. The Bruins play a physical style that's more typical of the Western Conference than the East but they also have balanced scoring. This should be a terrific series with plenty of exceptional skill on display.
It figures to be a pick 'em. Chicago in seven.]