Not only did Brent Seabrook’s series-clinching overtime goal propel the Chicago Blackhawks past their bitter rivals and into the Western Conference Finals, it also rounded out a truly historic group of remaining contenders. Amazingly, the last four teams standing include the winners of the Stanley Cup Finals from each of the last four seasons (2012-Los Angeles Kings, 2011-Boston Bruins, 2010-Chicago Blackhawks, 2009-Pittsburgh Penguins). The 2013 postseason will mark only the second time in the history of the league that the NHL Conference Finals have been comprised of the past four champions. The last time it happened was way back in 1945, and featured the Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Check out our preview of the extraordinary action ahead, and be there to witness the battle for a chance to again hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup with a purchase of NHL Playoff tickets from Vivid Seats.
No. 1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. No. 4 Boston Bruins
After a shaky opening-round performance, the Pittsburgh Penguins looked utterly dominant against the Ottawa Senators, outscoring their opponent, 26-11, en route to winning the series in five games to clinch a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals. Up next for the Pens will be the Boston Bruins, who, after a dramatic comeback win in the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs, made easy work of the New York Rangers, disposing of them in five games. While the Penguins won all three of the regular-season meetings this year, they were all closely contested, with each one being decided by a single goal.
Although these two teams have not met in the playoffs in over 20 years, their upcoming meeting in the Conference Finals still has the feel of a fierce rivalry. While the action on the ice is always intense when these squads play, it is the storylines off the ice that are making headlines. Jarome Iginla found himself at the center of a trade-deadline controversy in April when the Bruins thought that they had acquired the Calgary Flames star, only to find out that the veteran winger declined the trade at the last second, instead insisting that he be shipped to the Penguins. After being spurned by Iginla, the Bruins decided to trade for former Penguins legend Jaromir Jagr in a move that only thickens an already intriguing plot. The 41-year-old Jagr will try to help the Bruins knock off his former team two decades after he played a key role on Penguins teams that defeated Boston in consecutive Conference Finals en route to back-to-back Stanley Cup victories.
Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. – (Game 1: June 1; Game 2: June 3; Game 5: June 9; Game 7: June 12)
TD Garden in Boston, Mass. – (Game 3: June 5; Game 4: June 7; Game 6: June 11)
No. 1 Chicago Blackhawks vs. No. 5 Los Angeles Kings
The Chicago Blackhawks’ confidence is as high as ever after they erased a 3-1 series deficit to down the Detroit Red Wings. The Hawks will have little time to enjoy their emotional come-from-behind victory, as they will get only two days of rest before the puck drops on June 1 for the series against the defending champion Los Angeles Kings. The Kings have shown no signs of a Stanley Cup hangover, as they outlasted the intra-state rival San Jose Sharks to come one step closer to becoming the first team to repeat as champions since the Red Wings accomplished the feat 15 years ago.
If the Kings are to defend their title, they will have to get past a top-seeded Blackhawks team that won two of the three regular season meetings between the clubs. The Kings will hope that star goaltender Jonathan Quick can hold off the Hawks’ high-powered offensive attack long enough for them to strike first—seven of the team’s eight postseason wins have come in games that they scored first. The Blackhawks home-ice advantage may play a key role in the series, as Los Angeles has not yet lost a game at the Staples Center in the 2013 postseason.
United Center in Chicago, Ill. – (Game 1: June 1; Game 2: June 2; Game 5: June 8; Game 7: June 12)
Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif. – (Game 3: June 4; Game 4: June 6; Game 6: June 10)