A gauntlet of the last four teams to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup begins Saturday night.
Last year’s champions the Los Angeles Kings travel to face the comeback titans in the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center for the Western Conference finals.
Led by hot goaltender Jonathan Quick, the Kings finished off the San Jose Sharks in the semifinals in seven games. The 27-year-old Quick posted a .951 save percentage with 195 saves against the Sharks, and rookie defenseman Slava Voynov assisted on both of right winger Justin Williams’s goals in Game 7 for the win.
Chicago staged an incredible come back after facing a 3-1 series deficit against the rival Detroit Red Wings. The Blackhawks rejuvenated their offense, and outscored Detroit 10-5 in the final three games of the series.
Veteran Marian Hossa recorded four points in that same stretch with three assists and a goal, and is now tied with center Patrick Sharp with 11 points in these playoffs. The Blackhawks are now in line to reach the Cup Finals since they last won in 2010.
While Chicago and Detroit both played seven games, Boston and Pittsburgh had a long layover and could appear rusty.
The Penguins will host the Bruins at CONSOL Energy Center in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Bruins made quick work of the New York Rangers, winning 4-1 in five games, with center David Krejci leading the attack with four assists in the series.
Boston was the 2011 champion, but face the most potent offense left in the playoffs led by the Penguins Sidney Crosby, who has seven goals and eight assists so far. Pittsburgh also dropped the Ottawa Senators in five games, and can claim its first cup since 2009.
Chicago and Detroit begin their Game One at 5 p.m. Eastern and it will be broadcast by NBC Sports.
Boston and Pittsburgh drop the puck at 8 p.m. Eastern on NBC.