BRUINS AT BLACKHAWKS
The facts: 11:30 a.m., Ch. 5, 720-AM.
Updated: February 20, 2014 6:57AM
Patrick Kane was out for a late dinner after the victory Friday night over the Anaheim Ducks when he encountered a few Boston Bruins at the restaurant.
No, they didn’t deliver any forearm shivers to the back of Kane’s head or steal his Stanley Cup ring or anything.
This isn’t that kind of rivalry.
“A lot of them are respectful and come up and just say hi to you,” Kane said before quickly adding: “Once you get on the ice, it’s totally different.”
But even with all the trash-talking that went on during the epic Stanley Cup Final last June between the Blackhawks and Bruins — and Kane said there was noticeably more than during the 2010 Final against the Philadelphia Flyers — the rematch Sunday isn’t exactly a blood feud between two bitter rivals.
It’s a rekindling of an ongoing series between two of the NHL’s model franchises — two teams that nobody would be surprised to see in the Stanley Cup Final again.
“It was a hard but well-played Final, and, if anything, there’s a lot of respect that was gained between the teams,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “That’s what I felt, anyway.”
So did the players on both teams.
“I wouldn’t say there was any other series where there was that mutual respect,” Boston’s Milan Lucic said.
So it’s respect and recent history, not bad blood, that make this game a big game. While the Hawks did their best to downplay the magnitude of the game against the Ducks, even Duncan Keith had to admit there was something bigger about this rematch. And Patrick Sharp made no effort to hide his excitement, saying that in an 82-game season, players always have a few games circled, and this was one of them.
“I remember playing the Flyers for the first time after that Stanley Cup Final, and there was definitely a little different feel to the game,” Sharp said. “I think when we see those names up on the board and we see the Boston Bruins jerseys and remember some of those matchups from June, it’s going to bring back some memories and put a little more intensity in the game.”
Of course, those memories are colored by which locker room you’re in. For the Hawks, it’ll always be fun to think back on Andrew Shaw’s triple-overtime goal in Game 1, or the wild 6-5 overtime victory in Game 4 in Boston, or the famed 17 seconds in which Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland scored to turn a probable Game 6 loss into a championship.
But as joyous as those memories are for the Hawks, they’re just as devastating for the Bruins. Lucic said he has replayed the last 1:16 of Game 6 in his head “a hundred times.” And Patrice Bergeron looked at the wall at Johnny’s IceHouse West on Saturday and said, “It hurts just to see that ‘2013’ on the wall right there.”
Sharp knows the feeling. To an extent.
“I’ve been lucky enough to be on the winning side both times,” Sharp said. “But I do know after getting knocked out by Vancouver and knocked out by Phoenix in 2011 and 2012, you definitely have a little bit of anger toward that team, and you want to take it out on them the next time you see them.”
Julien didn’t sugarcoat the crushing loss, using the word “grieving” to describe the first few days after Game 6. But he also said the Bruins can’t dwell on it. The disappointment of last spring can add fuel to the fire, but that fire can’t consume them if they want to win Sunday, stay in first place in the Atlantic, make another deep run and erase the memory of 2013 for good.
“There’s no doubt it hurts, but you’ve got to get over it,” Julien said. “If all you rely on is the hurt and the past, then you can’t move forward.”