What 'hangover'? B's and 'Hawks showing no signs of fatigue in the new year
photo via yahoosports.com
After their epic six-game Stanley Cup Final in June that saw the Blackhawks skate away with the Cup, fans in Boston and Chicago quickly turned their eye to the upcoming season.
The questions always come when a champion is crowned: how will they fare the following season after playing through such a grueling playoffs? The same goes for the losing team, as they too experience the same endurance-sprint while chasing the Cup.
As the NHL has just turned past the quarter-mark of the new year, both the Bruins and Blackhawks are again proving they are the class of the NHL, showing no signs of fatigue following their title runs last summer.
Both teams sit on-top their respective conferences, the Bruins posting a 17-7-2 record with 36 points in 26 games played. The Blackhawks have skated to a 19-4-4 record with 42 points in 27 games played.
So how are the two teams doing it?
photo via gazzette.net
The trademarked strengths of each team are again carrying them thus far in 2013. The Bruins as a team lead the NHL in GAA at 2.00 GA/G, along with giving up only 54 total on the year, second only to Colorado. Tuukka Rask himself is fourth in the league with a 1.90 GAA and sixth with a .935 save percentage.
The Blackhawks are still the same high-powered juggernaut we all remember, as they lead the NHL in goals scored per game, at a 3.44 clip. Same goes for total goals with 97, nine more than the next team. The Hawks have three of the top 30 scoring leaders in the NHL, with Pat Kane (28 P) Jonathan Toews (24 P) and Patrick Sharp (23 P) again leading the charge.
Going back to the 1998 (the last time the NHL saw a repeat champion), of the two teams playing in the Final, only 11 out of 26 teams qualified for the playoffs or won a series in the following season. Both the Hawks and the Bruins lost in the first round following their Stanley Cup seasons.
The trends have shown that the sprint to the Cup and the letdown (or celebration) after the fact is so taxing that teams cannot recover in such a short offseason. But the Hawks and Bruins are skating right past that sentenced fate and again playing some of the best hockey in the NHL over 25 games into the season.
A large part of the equation may be the lockout-shortened season the league saw last year, where teams only played a 48 game regular season. The Bruins then played 23 playoff games for 71 total, while the Hawks played 72.
Taking off almost 40 games over the course of a full season has clearly payed its dividends as both teams are now ready to enter the third month of the '13-'14 season and showing no signs of a 'Stanley Cup hangover.'
Are they on a crash course for a rematch in June? It's easy to assume so. As long as the Hawks keep scoring and the Bruins and Rask keep teams from scoring, its not hard to foresee these two teams going at it again for the ultimate prize come summer time.
In the meantime, we have to wait until January 19th in Chicago and March 27th in Boston to see these two teams play each other again.