Key for Bruins, Blackhawks has been stability

Bruins head coach Claude Julien talks to his team at practice Monday ahead of Wednesday's Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. (Boston Globe)
Bruins head coach Claude Julien talks to his team at practice Monday ahead of Wednesday’s Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. (Getty Images)

The pink hats that have joined the Bruins party the last few years will be excused but it’s a perfect time for a little refresher course on how drastically things have changed for the Bruins and Blackhawks in recent years. How two Original Six teams went from complete afterthoughts in their own hockey-loving American cities to become two of the model franchises in the NHL. Starting on Wednesday (8 p.m., NBC) in Game 1, Boston goes for its second Stanley Cup in three years while Chicago is looking for its second in four years, but it wasn’t all that long ago that TD Garden and United Center were far from sold-out each night.

Things got so bad for the Blackhawks that for a time their games were blacked out in Chicago … seriously. The Bruins never reached that San Diego Chargers type of low but that is what happens when you don’t win a Cup for 49 years or 39 year,s respectively. Winning a Cup can completely change the fortune of a franchise, it also helps that both play in great hockey markets so fans don’t need many extra reasons to go to the games, watch them on TV and buy the merchandise. Chicago has 10 guys left on the active roster from 2010 and Boston has 16 (17 if you count Gregory Campbell). The biggest difference is in net where Corey Crawford was the third-string goaltender during Chicago’s Cup run (he didn’t play a minute that postseason) while Tuukka Rask was Tim Thomas’s backup (also never seeing the ice).

With free agency, injuries, trades and up and down performances, it’s so hard for teams to stay at the same level in the NHL (hence why there hasn’t been a repeat Stanley Cup champion since 1998). But a main reason why these two teams are still alive in 2013 is that their nucleus has basically stayed the same in the past few years. The leading scorers for the Blackhawks in their 2010 run were Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith. Add Marian Hossa and Bryan Bickell (who were both on that team) to 2013’s leading scorers and you have a similar scoresheet. For Boston, its top four scorers on the 2011 championship squad were David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Nathan Horton. Sound familiar? Entering these Finals, the B’s leading scorers are Krejci, Horton, Milan Lucic and Marchand (Bergeron is just two points behind Marchand).

What this all means is anyone’s best guess. The Bruins and Blackhawks will rightfully tell you that every season is different and with good reason. I can guarantee that none of them will be thinking about those memorable seasons over the next few weeks. They’ll be too focused on the task at hand. Still, it’s interesting for us to see all the similarities shared between these proud teams that are back on top in the NHL.

Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter @RichSlate



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.

Local

VIDEO: Cop reassigned as NYPD investigates alleged head…

An officer alleged to have stomped on a Brooklyn man's head last week had his gun taken away and placed on modified duty.

National

New York Times calls for legalization of pot

The New York Times editorial board on Saturday endorsed a repeal of the federal ban on marijuana, becoming the largest paper in the nation to back the idea.

National

Two injured after cable snaps on Ohio amusement…

(Reuters) - A cable on a large swing ride at an Ohio amusement park snapped and struck two riders as the swing was in motion,…

Music

Newport Folk Festival: Photo gallery of 35 moments…

As has been the tradition since Bob Dylan plugged in a bajillion years ago, the Newport Folk Festival embraces more musical genres than its name implies.

Music

MKTO: Behind the bromance

MKTO's Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller talk about the American Dream tour, Demi Lovato and getting turned down by girls.

Arts

James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne head to…

Two-time Tony winner James Earl Jones returns to the New York stage next month as an eccentric grandfather in a revival of the 1930s comedy…

Movies

Box office: Scarlett Johansson wins battle of brains…

Scarlett Johansson's "Lucy" handily dispatched with Dwayne Johnson's "Hercules" over the weekend.

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Auto racing

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Wellbeing

This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…

Education

Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…

Education

Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…

Career

Feeling stuck? Get out of the entry-level job…

Television and movies may be littered with 20-something characters who seem directionless when it comes to their careers, but author Mary Traina says she finds…