Chicago vs. Pittsburgh. It’s a matchup many hockey fans have wanted to see take place in the Stanley Cup Final. The two franchises have been in the Final six times since 2008, with five championships between the two organizations. However, their paths have yet to cross on hockey’s biggest stage.
The Penguins, led by Sidney Crosby, waited seven years between their title victories. After overcoming the dominant Red Wings to win a dramatic seventh game on the road in 2009, it seemed as if Pittsburgh was going to become the NHL’s next dynasty. Injuries to Crosby and early playoff exits, though, derailed the emerging team of the 2010s.
Instead, the Blackhawks took over the title of the NHL’s next “dynasty.” After losing the 2009 Western Conference Final, the Blackhawks came back the next season and ended a 49-year drought, defeating Philadelphia in six games to win the 2010 Cup. This was only the start for Chicago, as they won the championship in 2013 and 2015 as well, making it three titles in six seasons. They’ve only been eliminated in less than seven games once in this latest playoff run, making them one of the toughest “outs” in sports.
This brings us to today, where both Pittsburgh and Chicago sit comfortably in playoff positions. The Penguins only sit behind the surging Blue Jackets in the East, while the Blackhawks are the top team in the West. This begs the question: will we finally get to see these two teams face off in the Stanley Cup Final?
While I don’t know if we will get this Final this year, one thing I do know is that hockey fans deserve to have a Final between these two teams. When two teams help define an era in hockey like Pittsburgh and Chicago have, you ultimately want to see those teams square off to determine who is “the best.”
Now I know there’s a lot of people out there who don’t like Pittsburgh and Chicago because of their respective fan bases, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that these two organizations have been successful the past eight years. It doesn’t take away from the fact that Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews have become two of the faces of league. And it also doesn’t take away from the fact that a Blackhawks-Penguins Final would be the most-watched Final in the last 15 years.
With so much star power on both sides of the ice, a Blackhawks-Penguins Final would be “can’t miss” television. Even if you dislike both teams, you’d be inclined to tune in just to see how this Final plays out.
I’m not sure this matchup will happen this year. The Stanley Cup Final is the hardest playoff to predict every year because, simply put, it’s the hardest championship to win in sports. A Blackhawks-Penguins Final, though, would be entertaining, captivating, and flat-out fun. It would help settle the debate of which team has been better this past decade, and give the NHL a Final that even the casual fan would want to watch.
Chicago vs. Pittsburgh. It’s the Final the NHL wants…and deserves.