High Hopes For The NHL’s Original 6 Franchises In 2013-14

Image Courtesy of Flickr. Photograph by Deb.

Image Courtesy of Flickr. Photograph by Deb.

The 2012-13 season was a prosperous one for the Original 6 franchises in the National Hockey League. For the first time since 1996, the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers all made the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the same season.

We were even graced with the luxury of enjoying an all Original 6 Stanley Cup Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins. Something about those two historic clubs going toe-to-toe made it impossible for many fans not to watch, including those whose teams were long since eliminated.

The Final ended dramatically in Game 6 at TD Garden in Boston. If you’re reading this you already know what happened. Here’s a clip of the Chicago Blackhawks 3rd period tying and winning goals against the B’s to clinch the Stanley Cup.

The Bruins Played Three Original 6 Teams In The Playoffs

The Boston Bruins began their run to the Stanley Cup Finals with a miraculous come from behind win over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 7 Overtime. In the 2nd round, the New York Rangers were on the menu in a quick 5 game series victory for the B’s. A 3rd round sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins set the stage for the Bruins showdown with the Hawks.

The Blackhawks Went 2 For 2 Against Original 6 Opponents

The Chicago Blackhawks eliminated the Detroit Red Wings in a wild come from behind Game 7 overtime classic in the 2nd round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Wings took a commanding 3-1 series lead on the Stanley Cup favourite Hawks. On the ropes, the Presidents Trophy winners stormed their way back into the series and the rest is history. Here’s how it all ended in OT.

 

What do the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins have in common? The both eliminated two Original 6 teams from the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs.

The only Original 6 teams in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs to not be eliminated by a fellow member of the O6, were the Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens were also the sole pre67 franchise to not play another Original 6 franchise in the post season of 2013.

Hockey destiny was at play when the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks met in the Western Conference Semi-Finals. The two historic rivals begin the upcoming 2013-14 NHL season a world apart. The Red Wings leave their long time foes and the rest of the Western Conference for new beginnings in the league’s Eastern Conference. Detroit’s arrival in the East severely damages any hope of the Blackhawks and Wings having another classic playoff showdown anytime soon, unless they meet in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Meeting Expectations Will Be Tough For All The Original 6 Teams In The 2013-14 NHL Season

The Original 6 NHL franchises have massive followings of loyal, passionate fans. Having all made the playoffs a year ago, the millions of diehards that cheer for the Blackhawks, Bruins, Red Wings, Rangers, Maple Leafs, and Canadiens are expecting better results than last season. The Hawks can’t get much better than a year ago, but their fans definitely want another Cup in 2013-14.

Chicago Blackhawks Look To Repeat As Stanley Cup Champs

Winning the Stanley Cup in two straight years is a rare occurrence in the modern NHL. The last franchise to complete the task was an Original 6 team – the Detroit Red Wings back in 1997 and 1998. As you can see, it’s been a while. Another Cup is an obvious ambition for the Hawks, as they aim to create one of the most impressive dynasties in modern day professional hockey. The Hawks enter 2013-14 with the same core of star players from the 2013 Cup winning team, so it stands to reason this group can do it again if everything goes right.

Anything Less Than A Stanley Cup Is A Failure For The Bruins In 2013-14

On the heels of a cataclysmic loss in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Boston Bruins are a different team. They moved young gun Tyler Seguin, and forward Rich Peverley this summer to the Dallas Stars in return for two-way winger Loui Eriksson and some prospects. The addition of Eriksson makes a very strong goal preventing Boston Bruins even more defensively sound than they were last season.

The Bruins lost clutch playoff goal scorer Nathan Horton to free agency this summer. Horton joins the Columbus Blue Jackets for the upcoming NHL season where he’ll take on a major role as one of the team’s veteran leaders and main contributors. Not one to patiently wait around and hope something good falls into his lap, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli signed future Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla to a one-year deal. Iginla will step in as Horton’s replacement on the right side and shoot for his first Stanley Cup ring. The addition of Iginla will motivate the Bruins to not only win their 2nd Stanley Cup in four years, but also, win one for Iggy.

The New Look Red Wings Join New Conference

The Detroit Red Wings look to be a dynasty on the decline, however, they were strong enough to advance to the 2nd round in the 2013 Playoffs and almost knock off the eventual champs from Chicago. There is no telling if that playoff push from a Spring ago was a last hurrah or a sign that the Wings aren’t as declining as people think.

Joining the Eastern Conference is great for rivalries. The Red Wings are an Original 6 giant. They’ll now enjoy more regular showdowns against old time enemies the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, and New York Rangers.

The Red Wings made some notable moves this summer. Perhaps the most high profile centre on the free agent market last July was Stephen Weiss of the Florida Panthers, and the Red Wings wasted no time getting him inked. The addition of Weiss ensures an already deep group at centre just got better.

It was a real shocker when longest serving Ottawa Senators‘ Captain Daniel Alfredsson chose to leave the franchise he’d captained since the 2001 departure of Alexei Yashin. Alfredsson’s best days are behind him, however, he showcased many times last season that he is still capable of finding the back of the net on occasion. His offensive numbers will almost certainly rise this season, playing on a line with either Pavel Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg in the Red Wings’ top 6.

Life Without Torts, The Rangers Are A Different Team

Finally free of John Tortorella’s demanding coaching tactics, the New York Rangers enter the 2013-14 NHL season as a team with something to prove. A quick and painful 2nd round loss to the Boston Bruins a year ago brought to light many of the Rangers issues with scoring goals and controlling possession of the puck.

The Rangers will be a new look team under experienced head coach Alain Vaigneault, recently fired by the Canucks in the early hours of the 2013 off season. Vaigneault does things differently than Tortorella, that is for sure. AV is a puck pursuit thinker, more interested in creating offence than overly protective defensive tactics. That being said, he is a strong defence thinking bench boss, as well. Vaigneault’s Canucks’ teams had some excellent seasons where goals against was at a minimum. A fresh perspective from one of the NHL’s most successful regular season coaches of the last five years should give the Blueshirts some extra jump and energy this season, plus a chance to create more offence.

The Leafs Must Compete In 2013-14 To Validate Last Season’s Success

After a nine year absence the Toronto Maple Leafs finally reclaimed a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs one year ago, only to lose in heartbreaking fashion. The Buds would suffer from a serious case of one step forward, two steps back if they fail to qualify for the post season again this year. It appears clear to Leafs GM Dave Nonis that making the playoffs again this season is utterly important if the franchise is to build momentum and climb out of a decade long rut.

The Leafs acquired promising potential franchise goaltender Jonathan Bernier from the Los Angeles Kings at the beginning of the off season. It was a move to bolster an important position between the pipes for the Leafs. A solid season from their new keeper could be enough to help the Leafs over the next hurdle.

They also signed high profile RW David Clarkson to a long term deal. Clarkson adds toughness and goal scoring to a Leafs forward group that can already score, but needed to get meaner.

The addition of former Blackhawk and scorer of the 2013 Stanley Cup clinching game winning goal, David Bolland joins the Leafs to increase grit and experience at the forward position. The native of Toronto will add to an already versatile forward lineup.

The Canadiens Are Wiser Now

Last season’s Northeast Division champs’ the Montreal Canadiens bowed out of the 1st round awfully, losing in 5 games to the Ottawa Senators. It was a tough ending to such a promising season. In spite of the terrible finale, the Habs’ 2012-13 season was a success to be built on.

This off season, veteran depth was added to the roster in the form of clutch goal scorer and Quebec native, Danny Briere, as well as, shot-blocking, penalty killing specialist, defensive defenceman Douglas Murray. The Habs youthful roster is stronger with the two vets spotted in.

The disappointing Round 1 exit will be the fuel that powers the entire Habs season. Head Coach Michel Therrien proved successful a year ago, and will look to guide his team in a similar style. The tight defensive tactics the Habs will play in 2013-14 is conducive with winning hockey games. With Carey Price in net and a strong blue line headed by Andrei Markov and P. K. Subban, the Habs are a strong contender to win the division again in spite of the confusion brought forward by NHL Realignment.