Five things to watch: Bruins and Blackhawks Cup final rematch

Casey Ippolito
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Just three games Sunday in the NHL, and I’ve managed to milk five storylines from them.

Blackhawks host Bruins in Cup final rematch
The last time the Blackhawks and Bruins met, this happened:

There have been key departures for both sides (Dave Bolland, Tyler Seguin, Andrew Ference) and notable new faces (Reilly Smith, Jarome Iginla), but the rosters for the most part remain as they were when the Cup was awarded last year. We know some animosity will carry over from the Cup final, but how much?

Caps and Rangers trending in opposite directions
On New Year’s Day, the Capitals were sitting second in the Metropolitan Division, but with just two wins in their past 10 games, they’re in jeopardy of missing the playoffs, hanging onto a wild card position by a point. They face off against the Rangers today, who’ve won seven of their past 10, thanks in part to steady goaltending. Henrik Lundqvist has played up to Henrik Lundqvist levels in eight of his past nine games, giving the Rangers a formidable No. 2 option behind Cam Talbot. (I kid, but Talbot does have the league’s best save percentage and goals-against average in his 15 outings this season.)

Can Ovechkin keep pace with 60?
With 34 goals in 46 games, Alex Ovechkin is on pace for 59 goals. It’s been 17 games since Ovi’s last multi-goal performance, and he’ll need one soon if he’s to reach the 60-goal plateau for the first time since his 65-goal 2007-08 campaign. With No. 8′s dip in production, Nicklas Backstrom’s output has also tapered. The Swedish Olympian has just four points in his past 10 games. Whether it’s Backstrom who needs to get Ovechkin going, or vice versa, the duo needs to step up.

Motivated Martin St-Louis
Martin St-Louis has played seven games since finding out he won’t be suiting up for Canada at the Olympics. He has a point in every one of those games, 11 points overall, and he’s coming off a four-goal game yesterday against the Sharks. He and Ben Bishop are carrying the Lightning right now, and it’s fun to watch. St-Louis will try to keep the points coming against the Hurricanes today.

Bruins have company atop the Atlantic
The Bruins are the most consistent and well-constructed team in the Atlantic Division, and they’ve held the top spot for much of the season. However, the Lightning are on nipping at their heels, just a point back. The Canadiens are just three points back, and even the Leafs are within striking distance at seven points shy of the B’s. With a 5-5 record over their past 10 games, Claude Julien’s group needs to string together a few W’s.