Boston Bruins at Chicago Blackhawks (-149, 5)
The Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins are bidding to secure their second title in the young decade when the two Original Six rivals open their Stanley Cup final series at the United Center Wednesday. Chicago, which won its last championship in 2010 with a six-game triumph over the Philadelphia Flyers, began this season on a sensational 24-game point streak (21-0-3) en route to recording the second Presidents' Trophy in franchise history. The top-seeded Blackhawks breezed past the eighth-seeded Minnesota Wild in the first round, overcame a 3-1 series deficit to outlast the rival Detroit Red Wings in the second before dethroning the defending champion Los Angeles Kings in five games.
Boston also survived a scare by erasing a three-goal deficit in the third period of Game 7 before rallying past the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round. The fourth-seeded Bruins battered another Original Six foe in the New York Rangers before holding the high-octane Pittsburgh Penguins to just two goals during a sweep of the Eastern Conference final. Boston is vying for its second title in three years, having defeated the Vancouver Canucks in seven games in 2011.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS
ABOUT THE BRUINS: While David Krejci boasts an NHL-leading nine goals and 21 points, the offensive contributions from the team's defensemen can not be overlooked. Blue-liner Johnny Boychuk leads the pack with five goals, rookie Torey Krug has added four and captain Zdeno Chara notched 11 points. "It's great," forward Brad Marchand said of Boston's defensemen, who have accounted for 15 of the team's 50 goals. "It really takes a lot of pressure off the forwards. ... It adds another element to our game and it opens up things for us down low because guys have to respect our defensemen." Tuukka Rask (12-4, 1.75 goals-against average, .943 save percentage) recorded his first two postseason shutouts in the Eastern Conference final - but has only one relief appearance in his young career versus the Blackhawks. The Finn stopped 11 of 12 shots he faced.
ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS: Patrick Kane broke out of his slump in a big way, scoring in Game 4 against the Kings before his double-overtime winner completed a hat trick in Game 5 to win the Western Conference final. After setting up Kane's winning tally, captain Jonathan Toews would like to put his scoring troubles to rest as well. Toews has just one goal and nine points in these playoffs - a far cry from the seven and 29 he recorded during his 2010 Conn Smythe Trophy-winning performance. Bryan Bickell and Patrick Sharp have collected eight goals apiece to pace the Blackhawks in 2013. Corey Crawford (12-4, 1.74 GAA, .935 save percentage) has silently put together solid numbers in net.
* Bruins are 5-0 in their last 5 overall.
* Blackhawks are 7-1 in their last 8 vs. Eastern Conference.
* Over is 7-3 in Blackhawks last 10 vs. Eastern Conference.
* Bruins are 6-2 in the last 8 meetings.
1. Original Six rivals will vie for the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1979, when the Montreal Canadiens won their fourth consecutive championship with a 4-1 series victory over the Rangers.
2. The teams last met on Oct. 15, 2011 - with the Bruins skating away with a 3-2 shootout victory at the United Center. Tyler Seguin scored the lone goal in the bonus format.
3. Chicago is 9-1 at home during the postseason while Boston is 5-2 on the road.