The last time the Chicago Blackhawks were in the position they’re currently in — up three games to two on the road in Game 6 — they came away victorious. That was in Philadelphia in 2010, against the Flyers. The Boston Bruins, the Blackhawks’ opponent Monday, have been in this situation many times, too. So it should be an epic contest.
In 2011, the Bruins were down 3-2 against the Vancouver Canucks, but they won Game 6 at home to force a Game 7 where they shut out the Canucks 4-0 to win their sixth Stanley Cup finals — and their first since 1972. In their history, the Bruins are 6-12 in the finals. The only team with a worse record with more than five Cup appearances is the Philadelphia Flyers, who are 2-6 all time.
Similarly, the Blackhawks are just 4-7 all time in the Stanley Cup, and won in 2010 for the first time since 1961. These two franchises are on similar trajectories, in other words, heading into Monday’s game. After falling in the series 1-2, Chicago won games four and five to take advantage of the series. Even with a possible home Game 7, if Boston wins tonight, Chicago isn’t interested in celebrating on their home ice. Chicago star winger Patrick Kane said, “You’ve got to be careful; you’ve seen a couple years ago Boston was down 3-2, they won at home and then won Game 7 in Vancouver….”
Injury concerns for both teams are a headline going into Game 6. Chicago’s captain Jonathan Toews left late in Game 5 with an apparent injury sustained to his head on a questionable hit. However, both he and coach Joel Quenneville confirmed the star center would absolutely play Monday. “He’s 100 percent ready to go,” said Quenneville. For the Bruins, star center Patrice Bergeron missed the morning skate but will suit up for warm-ups. Bergeron left Game 5 in the second period after playing two shifts, and was admitted to a local hospital with various injuries to his legs, foot, back and spleen. He was discharged Sunday and was able to fly home with his teammates. Losing the 25-year-old would be a big hit to extend the series to its final game; Bergeron has four goals in the series first five games.
The Blackhawks had a record setting season, one that began in January due to a lockout, but once it finally began, they didn’t seem to miss a beat. They started the season 21-0-3, which was an NHL record for most consecutive games to start the season with a point — overtime losses account for one point and wins account for two. They didn’t lose a game until their 25th game and finished 36-7-5 with 77 points overall; they also had a goal differential of +53 — all tops in the league.
They may have entered the playoffs as the favorite, but the Blackhawks know its a level playing field now. The Bruins and Blackhawks represent the first Stanley Cup Finals since 1979 to showcase two of the original six teams. That year, the Montreal Canadiens beat the New York Rangers in five games for their 22nd overall and fourth consecutive Stanley Cup win.
The 2013 NHL season started off as one of the worst in the league’s history, but it’s shaping up to conclude as one of its most exciting. It only seems fitting that this one will go the distance.