A quick rundown on what Hawks fans can expect from Boston
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Meet the Boston Bruins.
The Blackhawks' opponent in the Stanley Cup Finals is big, fast, physical, can defend, is tough to beat at home and is on a roll, having swept the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals.
The storylines with the Bruins are plentiful, starting with the fact it's going to be the first Final between Original Six teams since 1979 when Montreal defeated the New York Rangers.
"The tradition of the Bruins and the Hawks is special," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "I'm sure, you know, the rivalry could return instantly come Game 1. I think it's good for the league. It's good for hockey. Two great hockey markets. We're very excited to be a part of it.
"They're on an amazing roll. They've got a lot of momentum where they're at right now. It should set up for a great final."
This is also a matchup of two of the last three Cup winners with the Hawks taking the big prize in 2010 and the Bruins in 2011.
"What it means to us, it means a lot (to go back to the Finals)," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "We pride ourselves on our game. We work hard at it. I think our guys really paid the price and did what it took to get there.
"Right now we're probably playing some of our best hockey of the season."
The amazing Jagr:
When the Hawks reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 1992 against Pittsburgh, Jaromir Jagr was a 20-year-old superstar with the Penguins.
Now he's back in the Finals at age 41 as the only player still active from that series with the Hawks, who had names such as Belfour, Roenick, Chelios, Larmer, Brent Sutter and Smith.
Jagr will be going against a whole new era of Hawks such as Toews, Kane, Crawford, Sharp and Keith.
Jagr isn't the same dynamic offensive force he was in his youth, but he has bought into Boston's defense-first approach.
"He's without a doubt a Hall of Famer, a great player for what he's accomplished," Julien said. "But he's going to be a Hall of Famer because he's a smart player. Where he is right now in his career, the most important thing is to give us a chance to win. For him to be able to do that, he's got to play in our system so he can be in sync with everybody else. He's done that.
"He hasn't been a big difference as far as what he can bring, because once he gets in the offensive zone, he's still the same player. I think it's more the defensive side of his game. He's coming back and doing what he needs to do there to help us out defensively. That's a credit to him. For what he is, for how long he's played, for a guy to do that is pretty amazing."
The big captain:
Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara is the biggest player in the league at 6-feet-9, almost 7 feet on skates.
Julien has a tough decision who to play him against — Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell, or Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Michal Handzus.
Chara is averaging more than 29 minutes of ice time in the playoffs so it's not out of the question he could be used against both of the Hawks' top lines.
Chara was a big reason why the Bruins shut down Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in the last round.
Chara was also a key to the Bruins going 15-for-15 while defending against the league's most dangerous power play.
The former Hawk:
Scott Thornton is a winner, having been a Stanley Cup champion in Anaheim and Boston since leaving the Hawks in 2006.
The 35-year-old Thornton is a guy the Hawks better be ready for because he competes like few others and is a leader of the Bruins.
Cool Hand Tuke:
Many wondered how Tuukka Rask, dubbed "Cool Hand Tuke" by the Boston media, would handle succeeding Tim Thomas as the Bruins' No. 1 goalie, but the Finn answered all questions with his play during the regular season and in the playoffs.
In the sweep of Pittsburgh, he made 134 stops in the four games for a save percentage of .985. He is 12-4 in the playoffs with a 1.75 goals-against average and .943 save percentage.
"There's no question that the performance he put in in this series was elite," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said after the sweep. "He was the difference in the series, there is no question. It's not like we didn't have good opportunities and good scoring chances. We had good looks at the net."
Julien said Rask and Thomas are different personalities.
"Timmy did it for us for numerous years," Julien said. "To a certain extent you got to hope that Tuukka learned from that as well, seized the moment when he had the chance. Right now he's in a zone that you hope he can hold on to. Without that kind of goaltending, you don't get a chance at winning a Cup."
•Follow Tim's hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone and check out his Between the Circles blog at dailyherald.com.
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