Conference finals set in Stanley Cup Playoffs
After a pair of game sevens decided who will be in the Western Conference Finals, the NHL is down to its final four teams. The Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings will play for the Western title, while the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins will square off for hockey supremacy in the East. Aside from being some of the most recognizable franchises in the league, the remaining teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs also have another unique distinction - they're the last four teams to hoist the Stanley Cup. And both matchups have compelling storylines.
Bruins vs. Penguins
The Bruins have been somewhat of an enigma all season, looking great at times but struggling for extended periods for others. As for the Penguins, the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed enter the finals as the clear favorite. Sidney Crosby has further established himself as one of, if not the, best players in the NHL, while the supporting cast of Evgeni Malkin and Matt Cooke have been great as well. The Penguins will be a tough out to be sure, but the Bruins certainly have the young talent to get the job done as well veteran leadership from the likes of David Krejci and Nathan Horton - both of whom have been solid during the playoffs.
Blackhawks vs. Kings
Both teams needed to go seven games to decide their semi-final series, but it was the Blackhawks who had the most on the line. The No. 1 seed, and the NHL's best team, had to fight back from a 3-1 series deficit against the Detroit Red Wings, but in doing so they have created a considerable amount of momentum heading into their game one matchup on Saturday. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and goalie Ray Emery have been on point.
The Kings also faced a rough road to the Western Conference Finals. The defending Stanley Cup champions were pushed to the brink by the surprise San Jose Sharks. However, if Kings goalie Jonathan Quick can get hot - just as he did last year - there's no denying that L.A. stands as a good bet to get back to the finals and claim its second Stanley Cup in as many years.