Boston was riding a 12-game winning streak prior to their last tilt, a shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens. The Bruins are coming on strong at the perfect point of the season, building up to their best hockey just as the playoffs are set to begin. This rather starkly contrasts how Boston’s 2011-12 season went, in which they dominated to an almost historical degree in the early part of the year only to flame out in the first round of the postseason.
Chicago’s on-ice play, meanwhile, has been disappointing for the better part of two months. The team has also begun to suffer from the attrition of a long, grinding 82-game campaign — something the Blackhawks had remarkably managed to largely avoid until recently. Patrick Kane will miss Thursday’s Stanley Cup Final rematch as well as the rest of the regular season, and several other players’ health statuses remain up in the air.
Chicago has a tall order facing it in the form of the Bruins, likely the league’s best team as of today. Boston is missing several key pieces as well but has already proven itself capable of withstanding the injuries; the Blackhawks, on the other hand, haven’t played well with or without the personnel they will be missing against the Bruins.
A single game doesn’t have great predictive validity as far as the postseason is concerned, but whichever team comes out on top Thursday night will be all the better for it going into the playoffs.