The 2013 Stanley Cup Final will be a unique circumstance. For the first time in the entirety of the season, an Eastern Conference team will face a Western Conference team when the Boston Bruins meet the Chicago Blackhawks for Game 1 on Wednesday night.
During the Blackhawks portion of media day on Tuesday, the coaching staff and players were asked about this dynamic. The general consensus was that reliance on the team's scouting staff was the only type of preparation they could draw from, with the exception of catching an occasional game on television.
Otherwise, it was business as usual, at least, from the Chicago perspective.
This was an overarching theme to Tuesday's media availability. The Blackhawks are three years removed from winning the Stanley Cup in 2010. With a handful of players still remaining from that roster, the players are more experienced in what this series will entail. In fact, several players noted that they didn't fully understand what was happening in their first trip to the championship round. Whether a more educated perspective will aide in their pursuit of a second Cup in four seasons remains to be seen.
However, that worldview will be shared by their opponents.
Boston is two years removed from their own Stanley Cup championship in 2011 and the team is returning 18 players from that roster. Boasting a cohesive lineup with a considerable amount of the depth, the Bruins are potentially the most formidable opponent the Blackhawks will face this postseason.
With Boston's depth in mind, questions have arisen about how Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville plans to construct his lines in anticipation of Game 1. The Blackhawks will have last change in the first two games of the series and Tuesday's morning skate indicated that changes could be coming to the lineup.
During the skate, Jonathan Toews was paired with Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp, while Patrick Kane centered Michal Handzus and Bryan Bickell (interestingly enough, Bickell did not participate in power play drills). Dave Bolland was paired with Andrew Shaw and Brandon Saad, while Brandon Bollig was paired with Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik.
Viktor Stalberg was not part of line rushes, which might mean he sits for Game 1. Quenneville was non-committal in his plans and left open the possibility of changes coming.