It’s only two games but the Stanley Cup Final has a feeling of déjà vu for the Blackhawks. There have been four overtime periods so far in the first two games.
It feels a lot like the first round series against the Phoenix Coyotes that took place last year. It was inevitable that every game was heading to overtime it seemed.
The Blackhawks had the better depth but the Coyotes were the more physical team. Last year, the Blackhawks and Coyotes went to overtime in the first five games of their series which was an NHL record for a playoff series.
But there were several keys to the series that were evident for the two teams. The Blackhawks controlled the shots on goal as they outshot the Coyotes in every game. In games that they outshot the Coyotes by plus 10, they were 2-3 last year.
Another trend was the Blackhawks trying to keep up the physical play. When the Blackhawks kept the hit margin within 10, they were 2-1. When they were outhit by over ten, they were 0-3.
The Stanley Cup Final is similar in several ways besides the fact that both games have gone into overtime. The two teams are even and it seems like every game will be a one goal game or head into overtime. Another similarity is that this is a Boston team that leads the NHL in hits in the playoffs.
In Game 1, the Blackhawks outshot the Bruins by 9 and that was just shots on goal. The more curious fact was the Blackhawks being credited with 2 more hits than the Bruins in Game 1. They won that game in triple overtime.
However, Game 2 was the opposite trend. In Game 2 the edge in total shots, missed, blocked and on goal, was 64-48 in favor of the Blackhawks. But the Bruins had a 50-34 edge in hits and their physical play wore on the Blackhawks late as the Bruins dominated play in the final two and half periods.
Predictably the Bruins won.
The Blackhawks have been able to pass tests from their past in the playoffs so far. They were able to get out of the first round for the first time in three seasons.
In the second round, they came back from a 3-1 deficit which they have not been able to do in the past two seasons. Then in the conference finals, they were able to dominate a Kings team that was supposed to be more physical but seemed to be banged up.
Now the Bruins represent their final test. The Bruins are a more skilled version of the Coyotes team that beat up the Blackhawks physically last year. The Blackhawks have been able to overcome the history of their trials since winning the Stanley Cup in 2010 one step at a time during the playoffs.
But the Stanley Cup Final represents possibly the most disappointing and bitter pill that the team has had to swallow since winning the Cup. A physical team that took it to a more skilled Blackhawks team that was supposed to win. The Bruins are a lot like the Coyotes but they’re better.
If the Blackhawks are going to win, they will need to play physical and assert their skillful play on the Bruins. If not, history will repeat itself and the Blackhawks will find themselves watching the Bruins hoist the Stanley Cup while the Blackhawks head to a disappointing offseason.
Can the history making Blackhawks erase the history of their past disappointments one more time?
Only time will tell as another chapter is written in the history of the Blackhawks.