In case you’re wondering, the last time two Original Six teams met in the Stanley Cup Finals was in 1978/79 when the Montreal Canadiens defeated the New York Rangers in five games.
Could we see two Original Six teams make it to the Stanley Cup Final this year?
My guess: not likely.
In the Western Conference, an Original Six franchise could well emerge, though the Wings are now facing a steep uphill battle down 3-0 to the Sharks. The Red Wings are a better team than one that’s in such a hole and they’re more than capable of putting a win streak together even now, but it’s asking a lot to win four in a row against any one team in the NHL playoffs, especially one of such high-caliber like the Sharks.
The best hope lies with Chicago, who was and still is favored to beat the Canucks. Though the Hawks played poorly in Game 1, they bounced back in Game 2, using their speed and tenacity to overcome the Canucks in the third period. The Canucks may have a tough time keeping up with the Hawks unless they can slow things down and play a stronger puck possession game for 60 minutes. Luongo also needs to be huge. My view: Chicago will elevate its game and move on to the conference finals against the Sharks (now that the Red Wings have dug a hole for themselves) and win in six or seven games.
In the Eastern Conference, we have the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins. Their Goliath, however, is the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are most certainly the favorites to win the Eastern Conference crown. The Pens were impressive in holding off a surging Ottawa Senators team, which showed the skill and will to upset the Stanley Cup champions. And so far, the Pens are proving a tougher opponent for the Habs than the Capitals. I see the Pens and Bruins in the conference finals, with the Pens winning in five or six games.
So… that leaves us with the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins in the final. That should please the NHL brass… and make for some exciting hockey.
As for an all Original Six Stanley Cup Final… for those fans who’d love to see it happen, they’ll have to keep waiting and hoping. The best hope just might be a Detroit Red Wings-Toronto Maple Leafs final in two or three years.
I know… I know… Not likely.
Photo credit: cn174 from Flickr