(Maximum Sports Channels – Keith Leanza) The defending champion Chicago Blackhawks look to repeat and prove they are among the elite in the NHL. The Boston Bruins are also trying to go back to the Cup for the third time in four years and win for the second in that same time period. Many changes have occurred this off-season throughout the NHL landscape that will make a return to the Cup for these teams that much more difficult.
The Blackhawks look forward to this season with the re-signings of Niklas Hijalmarsson and goaltender Corey Crawford. Crawford is excited about coming back and having Nikolai Khabibulin, 40 year old veteran goaltender, providing competition and giving them depth behind the net. Crawford has signed a six year deal that will make him the highest paid goaltender in the NHL starting in the 2014-2015 season.
“Being able to get a chance to bring the Cup back home with all the people I played minor hockey with and grew up with and all my family was pretty special to start off — to add this on top of it is amazing,” said Crawford about the contract extension. “I want to be in Chicago for my whole career and this is amazing to be able to do this and get this deal done.”
Many people in the organization are high on the goalie. General Manager Stan Bowman, who just signed a 2 year contract extension himself, says, “The reality is, we need to have a top-notch goaltender in our organization and we have one right in-house here with Corey, we know him well. He’s grown up with our organization and he’s earned the ultimate respect with our group. There was never a question in our minds that we want to commit to him. It’s the most important position we have and we have a lot of faith in his ability to continue. He’s a young goalie and he’s certainly worked hard to get himself to the NHL. He’s proven he can do it at the highest level.”
The Boston Bruins are another team on most people’s minds. Alternate Captain, Patrice Bergeron, is healing from injuries from last year’s Stanley Cup that included broken ribs, torn cartilage and a collapsed lung that separated. He played in Saturday’s preseason game, a total of 16:05 which came to a total of 19 shifts. “Overall, I felt good, pretty happy with it”, Patrice said after being on the ice for the first time since last year’s finals. He was happy with new teammate, Loui Ericksson and how much knowledge he has about the game. “He’s obviously a very smart player and I don’t need to talk about the chemistry with Marchy because we’ve had that for quite a while now. I thought the three of us on the fore-check were really good and caused some turnovers.”
The Bruins have also brought in Jarome Iginla to replace Nathan Horton. Iginla, the former Calgary Flame is looking forward to playing with new teammates David Krejci and Milan Lucic. “I’m looking forward to it. They’ve been a great line and have great chemistry. I love that they play hard and compete hard and do a little bit of everything,” Iginla said. “Krejci’s a very smooth player and he just finds way to score or makes things happen. He’s a great passer and I like to shoot the puck, so you always love to play with a great passer. Looch is the best power forward in the game and as tough as they come, but also a smart player and creates a lot of room for his linemates, so I’m looking forward to that opportunity.”
The Boston Bruins and The Chicago Blackhawks are only two of the powerhouses that people are looking forward to seeing in the 2013-2014 playoffs. The season approaches fast and many things will clear up as it progresses and unfolds. There is plenty of parody in the league and every team is fighting for the opportunity the Bruins and Blackhawks had last year.