The Chicago Blackhawks face the Boston Bruins in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Finals beginning on Wednesday night in Chicago. Here's a preview of the series that will decide the NHL's championship:


It's the first time these two NHL "original six" teams have met in the playoffs since 1978; they have never met in the Finals. Both organizations have recently won a Stanley Cup: Chicago in 2010 and Boston in 2011. The teams did not play each other this season.

How They Got Here:

The Boston Bruins advanced to the Stanley Cup finals first by miraculously coming back from three goals down in the third period to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 7 of the first round. Then they diced up New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist in round two, before sweeping the Pittsburgh Penguins, the NHL's best offensive team, in the Eastern Conference finals.

The Chicago Blackhawks topped the Minnesota Wild in five games in round one, came back to beat the Detroit Red Wings in seven games in the second round, and then knocked out the defending-champion Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference finals.

For Boston to Win the Stanley Cup, It Must:

Continue Its Momentum: The Bruins haven't played in a week after sweeping the Penguins. They need to shake off any rust quickly against Chicago's offensive depth.

Get Scoring Depth:
Boston's Milan Lucic / David Krejci / Nathan Horton and
Brad Marchand / Patrice Bergeron / Jaromir Jagr lines have both been outstanding. If the Bruins can add production from Tyler Seguin's line, they'll be in good position to win the Cup.

Win the Power-Play Battle:
Neither team has had a dominant power play in these playoffs, but Boston has defensemen like Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg and Andrew Ference, who can give the Bruins the edge both on penalty kills and power-play scoring.

For Chicago to Win the Stanley Cup, It Must:

Get Toews Going: Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa have led the offensive attack for the Blackhawks, but captain Jonathan Toews has just one goal in 17 games. If he can add significantly to the offensive pressure on Boston goalie Tuukka Rask, Chicago should win the series.

Clear Out for Crawford: After a slightly shaky series against the Red Wings, Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford returned to form against the physical Los Angeles Kings. The Chicago defense must help him, especially with Boston's offensive-minded defensemen.

Match Boston's Intensity: The Blackhawks have been the NHL's best team all season, but they sometimes seem to cruise instead of finishing an opponent off. They can't do that against the Bruins and expect to win the series.

2013 NHL Stanley Cup Finals Schedule:

Game 1 at Chicago, Wed. June 12, 8 p.m. on NBC
Game 2 at Chicago, Sat. June 15, 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Network
Game 3 at Boston, Mon. June 17, 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Network
Game 4 at Boston, Wed. June 19, 8 p.m. on NBC
Game 5 at Chicago, Sat. June 22; 8 p.m. on NBC*
Game 6 at Boston, Mon. June 24; 8 p.m. on NBC*
Game 7 at Chicago, Wed. June 26; 8 p.m. on NBC*

* — if necessary

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