Tuesday, June 11, 2013

2013 NHL Stanley Cup Finals predictions

The stage has been set: an Original Six Stanley Cup Finals matchup between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins, starting tomorrow.  WOO HOO!

I've lost a couple years of my life watching my beloved Blackhawks in this year's Stanley Cup playoffs.  First, the insane Game 7 overtime win in the second round against Detroit.  Then, the unbelievable Game 5 double-overtime victory against the Kings this past Saturday.  STRESS.

Playoff hockey is not for the faint of heart.  But I wouldn't have it any other way.  It's tradition!

I love the palpable Blackhawks buzz all throughout the city.  Everywhere you look you see the Blackhawks logo, people wearing Blackhawks gear, coverage of the Blackhawks on all media channels.

Check out these awesome Chicago skyline photos:

Ticket prices to attend the Stanley Cup Finals at the United Center are OBSCENE.  Just for giggles, I took a look at some of the ticket resale websites.  The standing room tickets are starting at about $250 apiece and the nosebleed seats start at about $375 apiece.  I've heard stories of fans so desperate to get tickets that they offered to sell their iPads, usage of their apartments, wedding photography services, and even their blood (literally) to get tickets.  Wow.  As I've said many times, I am as rabid of a Hawks fan as you'll ever find anywhere, but even I will be watching the Finals from my couch.

I do wish that the Hawks or the city of Chicago would offer the option for fans to camp out and watch the games outdoors on a big screen outside the UC or at, say, Grant Park.  The Penguins have outdoor viewing parties in Pittsburgh and I think they would be the coolest thing ever, especially on a beautiful summer evening.

Penguins fans watching the game on a big screen outside the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh

Allright, let's get down to business here.  The Blackhawks and the Bruins are an incredible matchup and I could go on for hours about the nitty-gritty details.  But I'll try to keep it high-level here.  I will also try not to be TOO biased.  (I know, I know.  But it's the thought that counts.)

While the Bruins have some very talented forwards in Patrice Bergeron and company, I think the Hawks have more depth at forward.  Especially when you consider the Hawks' incredible "third"-liners, most notably Bryan Bickell, who has had an absolutely explosive playoff season.  Consider the fact that the Hawks are in the Stanley Cup Finals and I think Jonathan Toews has only scored one goal this entire postseason.  Now THAT is depth.

The Hawks will certainly have their hands full dealing with the likes of Zdeno Chara in all of his 7-foot monstrosity.  But again, I think the Hawks have more depth at defense with their Olympic-caliber pairings, and I tend to feel that the Hawks' defense has a bit more of a scoring touch.

From a goaltender standpoint, both Tuukka Rask and Corey Crawford have played stunningly well - but even Adam will admit in his Penguins post-mortem that the Penguins made life too easy for Tuukka in the Eastern Conference Finals.  I think Corey has more battle wounds so far this year, which is a good thing.  But between Corey and Tuukka it'll definitely be quite an exhibition of goaltenders.

Commercial Break
Check out this cute picture that was posted on the Blackhawks Facebook page.

And how about this adorable picture of my fellow Hawks fan/running blogger Bobbi and her mom's dog, Brie?

Another photo of Brie:

I think I could do an entire photo-blog post on pets supporting the Blackhawks.  =D
Tangential note - I participated in the PAWS Run For Their Lives 4K Walk this past weekend and had an absolute blast.  More details and pictures to come in an upcoming post!

And now, back to your regularly-scheduled programming.

Special Teams
Both teams are strong penalty killers.  However, the Hawks' penalty kill has been nothing short of astounding - they are 58 for 61 in the playoffs, which I heard is a 25-year record.  Both teams have struggled on the power play, too.  I still don't understand how teams with so much talent can struggle so mightily with the man-advantage.  It's one of the great mysteries of the hockey universe.  In the end, I think that converting on power plays may end up being the difference-maker in this series.

Joel Quenneville and his team are phenomenal and the Hawks are exceptionally well-coached.  Claude Julien has had his ups and downs in Boston, but he and his team are also very well-respected and experienced.  Obviously both head coaches have already taken their respective teams to a Stanley Cup championship within the last 3 years, so they both know what it takes.  I don't know Claude Julien's coaching nearly as well as Coach Q, but I do feel that Coach Q is more willing to take risks and mix things up on the fly, as needed.

Everyone is talking about the Bruins' physicality agains the Hawks' speed and finesse.  It was the same story in the Western Conference playoffs with both the Wings' and Kings' physicality against the Hawks' speed and finesse, and look at the results.  As brutal as the Hawks' series was against Detroit, and as tough as a matchup as the Hawks' series was against the Kings, I believe that those two series helped truly prepare the Hawks for this final challenge.

MY HEAVILY BIASED PREDICTION: Hawks in 5. (Go get 'em!!!)

Side note: Not surprisingly, I would love to see the Hawks win a championship on home ice.  Living so close to the United Center and given the opportunity, I thought it would be fun to go partake in the outdoor jubilation nearby.  (When I mentioned this to Adam, he said "You mean the riots?")  However, as it turns out, Adam and I are going to be out of town the weekend of Game 5.  Talk about timing.

And finally...
If the Hawks need another goalie, I am ready and available!

NHL goalie pads are no joke.  It's amazing that anyone can even move while wearing those things, let alone stopping pucks being fired at you with lightning speed.



  1. Wow, the Blackhawks are in the finals? Who knew? Joking! Anyway, love the skyline pics and I hope your predictions are correct, wouldn't it be nice if you were in town for the game 5 victory?

    1. LOL, you are too funny. You've probably seen a lot of runners along the path sporting Hawks gear, too, I bet, eh? It's hard NOT to know the Hawks are in the finals, given all the buzz!!!

  2. I am in awe of how well that little munchkin tolerated us weirdos dressing her up. :)

    I am also in awe of the ticket prices (but not really). I am SO EXCITED to go, even if I WOULD have a much better view from my living room.

    GO HAWKS!!!!

    1. Brie is SO CUTE!!!!! Clearly she understand the magnitude of the red sweater. ;) What a good dog!!!

      SO AWESOME that you had tickets to last night's game!!! Did you stay for the entire 3 overtimes!?!?!? I am dying to hear details of what it was like at the UC in person amidst all the craziness!!!

      GO HAWKS!!!

  3. Ha ha ha! I love that pic of Bobbi! And of you playing goalie. And the skyline views!

    It's exciting that they are going to the finals again! I remember how obnoxious it was when I was trying to get to work the day of the parade the last time they won. I won't make that mistake again. Mauh ha ha.

    1. Thank you so much, Kim - glad you like the photos!!! =) Bobbi and Brie are SO CUTE in that picture - Bobbi's got the photo on Facebook and as soon as I saw it, I asked her if I could post it myself. =)

      Good lord, you were trying to navigate the city on the day of the Cup parade in 2010!?!?!? That must have been a NIGHTMARE. But here's hoping that we have more nightmare-generating parades soon ;) - especially now that you know how to prepare accordingly!!! =D

    2. Yes! I am hoping for the parade this year too! :)

      P.S. I have bad luck with sports parades. When the Giants won the superbowl a trip of mine was canceled to NYC due to the parade. LOL!

    3. Oh my gosh!!! What are the odds of you having to go to NYC when the Giants won the Superbowl, especially since they were such underdogs in the entire NFL playoffs that year!!! CRAZINESS!!!

      (Apparently you just attract sports championships wherever you go. =D )

  4. This will be a tough one for me, my long time friends all live in Massachusetts, but my allegiance is to Chicago! GO HAWKS!

    1. I always say that you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else. ;)

      GO HAWKS!!!

  5. OMG those doc pics! My dogs need jerseys!

    I think it'd be so cool if they showed the games at Grant Park! Why not, they do movies there. Or at Wrigley Field if the Cubs aren't at home?

    I'm going to say Hawks in 7. But either way, Hawks win!

    1. I would so love to see your dogs wearing Hawks jerseys!!! THAT WOULD BE AWESOME!!!

      What a great idea to show the Hawks games at Wrigley - I never even thought about that! Imagine how cool the atmosphere would be. Dear Mayor Emanuel... =D

      GO HAWKS!!!

    2. The Mayor is my neighbor after all, I could just drop by and suggest it to him :)

    3. That would be awesome! "What's up, Rahmmy! Hey, had a suggestion for you..." ;)

  6. Looking at your pics are making me want want to come back to Chicago ASAP. I miss it :( GO HAWKS!! Oh and can I just mention how pissy I have been getting since I don't have the tv station that has been playing the Hawks games (minus game 1). UGH

    1. Kayla, we miss you here in Chicago, too!!! Come back and visit as soon as you can!!!

      And yes, I'm annoyed too at how the NBCSN showed Game 2. What the heck are they thinking!?!?!? There are all these hockey fans out there that are dying to see the Stanley Cup Finals, yet they broadcoast Game 2 on a channel that half of the population doesn't even have. MAJOR FAIL!!!!