Not since 1979 have two Original Six NHL franchises met in the Stanley Cup Final.
That changes Wednesday, when the Blackhawks host Boston in Game 1 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final at the United Center.
The two teams have never met in the Stanley Cup Final, but they have met six times in the playoffs. Boston has won five of those meetings, including the most recent in 1978.
“The tradition of the Bruins and the Hawks is special,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “I’m sure the rivalry could return instantly come Game 1.”
Here’s a closer look at the series and each franchise before the puck drops in Game 1:
Stanley Cup history
The Blackhawks and Bruins are making their 12th and 19th Stanley Cup Final appearances, respectively.
The Blackhawks have won four Stanley Cup titles. Before beating Philadelphia in 2010 to win the Cup, the Blackhawks hadn’t won the Cup since 1961. Their other titles were in 1934 and 1938.
The Bruins beat Vancouver in 2011 to win their sixth Stanley Cup. Before that, the Bruins hadn’t won the Cup since 1972. Their other Cup victories came in 1970, 1941, 1939 and 1929.
How they got here
Both teams have faced adversity during this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Blackhawks, the West’s No. 1 seed, found themselves down three-games-to-one to Detroit in the Western Conference semifinals before winning three straight games to stave off elimination.
Game 7 of that series went into overtime after the Blackhawks had the go-ahead goal by Niklas Hjalmarsson waived off with under two minutes remaining. Brent Seabrook’s wrist shot beat Red Wings’ goaltender Jimmy Howard 3:35 into overtime, and the Blackhawks advanced to the Western Conference final, where they beat defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles, 4-1.
The Blackhawks opened the playoffs with a 4-1 series victory over Minnesota.
The Bruins’ opening round wasn’t as easy. Boston, the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, faced elimination, trailing by two goals at home to Toronto with about 90 seconds remaining in the third period of Game 7.
Two goals scored 31 seconds apart tied the game, and Patrice Bergeron’s overtime game-winner sent Boston to the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Bruins became the only team in NHL history to win a Game 7 after trailing by three goals in the third period.
Boston beat the New York Rangers, 4-1, in the conference semifinals. The Bruins then swept top-seeded Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference final.
Players to watch
Boston’s David Krejci is the playoffs’ top point-scorer, compiling 21 points. He also has a league-high nine goals this postseason. Krejci’s teammate Nathan Horton is second in the NHL in playoff scoring with 17 points, scoring seven goals. Horton also is a league-leading plus-21 this postseason. Plus-minus is a rating that measures a player’s difference between their team’s total scoring versus their opponent’s total at even strength.
The Blackhawks’ Patrick Sharp and Bryan Bickell have eight goals each this postseason. Marian Hossa is right behind them with seven goals. Hossa, Sharp and Patrick Kane, who scored a hat trick Saturday, lead the team with 14 points. Hjalmarsson, a defenseman, is a team-leading plus-10.
Between the pipes
Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford has bounced back from last year’s postseason struggles to help put the team in a position to win its second Stanley Cup in four years.
Crawford is 12-5 this postseason, with one shutout. His 1.74 goals-against average is tops in the NHL for the playoffs, and his .935 save percentage is second only to Boston’s Tuukka Rask.
The Bruins’ Rask is in his first full season as a starter after backing up Tim Thomas. He is 12-4 this postseason, with two shutouts. His league-leading save percentage in the playoffs is .943, and his goals-against average is 1.75.