Although the Stanley Cup Playoffs have been full of unexpected teams making noise, the final four that remain are definitely familiar with the NHL spotlight. With the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins facing off in the Eastern Conference Finals and the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings going toe-to-toe in the Western Conference, the last four Stanley Cup winners are all represented.
The last time the Blackhawks tasted the Cup was in 2010, but a similar formula has the Windy City looking for another championship parade. Duncan Keith is the staple on defense for Chicago and has played the entire season like he did in the 2010 season when he won the Norris Trophy, which proclaimed him the best defensive player in the NHL. At this time of the campaign, everyone is nicked up, which means the defensive players have an even larger impact on the outcome of this important battle.
It hasn’t even been a calendar year since the Kings last hoisted the illustrious trophy and although they have played in two seven-game series this postseason, the Kings are looking to be crowned once again. Chicago thrives on speed, so the legs of the Los Angeles defensemen will be examined the entire series. Drew Doughty is a defensive juggernaut who will be getting slashed and checked left and right; he’s one of the best in game at stifling top-tier scorers.
It goes without saying that the two goaltenders will also be dissected without remorse — Jonathan Quick and Corey Crawford are both stout goalies, so it’s just a matter of who blinks first, literally.