When the Bruins step Wednesday into the “Madhouse on Madison” — the NHL’s greatest venue — they will face an opponent very much like themselves.
Watching the Chicago Blackhawks finish off the tough Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night, you could almost picture the ’Hawks players wearing Bruins uniforms. In so many aspects, the teams that will compete for the Stanley Cup are similar — the way they play the game, the makeup of their lineups and their playoff experience.
Chicago, of course, won the Cup in 2010; the Bruins won it a year later. The memories of those seasons remain fresh in both cities, and neither team should be affected by the pressure and intense spotlight of the title series.
“They’ve played together for a while, and a lot of us have played together for a while,” the Bruins’ Chris Kelly said. “There’s a lot of similarities.”
Both teams have good balance through all four lines and get good value from all four. Both clubs have very good team speed. Each has plenty of offensive firepower, with several stars, and an inclination to attack hard whenever possible. There’s good size among each team’s corps of forwards, and a heavy, aggressive forecheck. Both are very responsible defensively, with back pressure between the blue lines and solid play in their own zone.
The teams are patient and don’t make dumb mistakes. And when they get hold of the puck, they try to transition to the attack very quickly.
It’s pretty apparent, with the perspective of the regular season and three rounds of the postseason, they are the two best teams in the league. It will be a colossal showdown of teams of such similar makeup.
The Bruins are less concerned about what the Blackhawks will bring, worried mostly about playing their own game, which worked well enough for a sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“The last thing you want to do is try and feel your way through this final, because by the time you’re done doing that, the damage will be done,” B’s coach Claude Julien said yesterday. “You’ve got to go out there and establish your game plan and just play with confidence.
“I think all the information is out there for both teams to understand how we both play. There’s no secrets there. It’s about having confidence in what you plan on doing and going out there and executing it. That’s all you can do.”
Consider some of the mirror-image matchups the Bruins will encounter:
• The No. 1 lines: The Blackhawks are led by the trio of center Jonathan Toews and wingers Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell, who have combined for 15 goals. The Bruins’ David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton have piled up 19 goals.

“Offensively, they’re like Pittsburgh: explosive,” B’s defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. “They have high-skills forwards who can score and make plays.”
• Lucic vs. Bickell: The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Lucic, 25, has been a physical monster in this postseason, storming in on the forecheck and overwhelming defensemen. He has posted 3-10-13 totals and a plus-13.
The 27-year-old Bickell, a 6-foot-4, 233-pounder who was primarily a minor leaguer when the Hawks won in 2010, has been the Cinderella story of the playoffs, with 8-5-13 totals in 17 games.
Both teams’ defensemen will have their hands full with these guys.
• Bergeron vs. Toews: These guys, along with Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk, are probably the best all-around forwards in the NHL — great defensive players, penalty-killers, faceoff men and also gifted, clutch scorers.
We will see how the matchups go, but they could go head-to-head throughout the games. Or will Toews be assigned the job of checking Krejci?

If we’re saying at the series’ end that one of these two outplayed the other, that will probably mean his team won.
• Corey Crawford vs. Tuukka Rask: These guys occupy similar places in the NHL goaltending hierarchy, and both are leading Conn Smythe Trophy candidates after playing phenomenally in the first three rounds.

Crawford, 28, has been an NHL starter for three seasons; Rask, 26, for two. Each has sent his reputation soaring this season, and they’re sharing the top spots on the playoff leaderboard. Crawford holds a tiny edge over Rask in goals-against average (1.74 to 1.75), while Rask leads Crawford in save percentage (.943 to .935).