The Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks meet tonight in a rematch of last season's Cup final, and what could be a preview of this year's finals. In my time as a fan (this stretches back longer than I want to admit), the two teams have had their stories intertwined several times:
1. In the early 1970's, both teams were powerhouses. Boston won in 1970 and 1972, and lost finals in 1974, 1977 and 1978. Chicago lost in the finals in 1971 and 1973.
2. In the same era, Phil Esposito (Boston) and Tony Esposito (Chicago) set many records and won many individual awards. Ironically, Tony's only Stanley would come as a member of the Montreal Canadiens.
3. Bobby Orr, brilliant Bruins defender, played for the Chicago Blackhawks in 1976-77 and 1978-79.
4. After their two Stanleys in 1970 and 1972, Boston would not win until 2011.
5. During the expansion era, Boston lost the finals in 1974, 1977, 1978, 1988 and 1990. Their Stanley Cup loss last spring to Chicago was #6 since 1967's expansion. That's a very effective run through those 46 seasons, with three Stanleys to go with them.
6. Chicago's two Stanley's in the modern era came recently, 2010 and 2013. The 1961 Stanley came during the pre-expansion era, but many remember Hull, Mikita and Glenn Hall winning it all 53 years ago (I do not).
I think Boston has the easier road back to the finals this year, the eastern conference offers Pittsburgh, the Rangers and the Habs as best available. Out west, Chicago has to worry about the St. Louis Blues and the California trio of teams loaded for bear.
Tonight should be a great game, and a reminder of what we could see in June. Can't wait!