NHL Stanley Cup Finals Preview: #1 Chicago Blackhawks vs #4 Boston Bruins
2013 Stanley Cup Finals
#1 Chicago Blackhawks vs #4 Boston Bruins
Best of Seven Series Format: 2-2-1-1-1
Series Price: (odds courtesy of Bookmaker) Blackhawks -155 / Bruins +135
Game #1, Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 8:05 pm Eastern, TV: NBC
United Center – Chicago, Illinois
Opening Line: Blackhawks -155 / Bruins +135
Current Line: Blackhawks -155 / Bruins +135
Opening Total: under 5 -110 / over 5 -110
Current Total: under 5 -155 / over 4 +135
For the first time since 1979 two of the NHL’s Original Six teams will meet for the Stanley Cup. The Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins have survived the grueling Stanley Cup playoffs so far. Surprisingly, this is the first time the two historic franchises have met in the Finals, but they have played 7 times in the playoffs. This is the first meeting in the playoffs between the teams since the early 1970’s. Both teams have won the Cup in the last 3 years after long droughts. Chicago won the Stanley Cup in 2010 for the first time since 1961. Boston won the Cup a year later for the first time since 1972.
Chicago won the President’s trophy for the NHL’s best record in the lockout shortened 48 game schedule. The Blackhawks are the #1 seed in the Western Conference. They beat the #8 Minnesota Wild in five games in the first round. In the second round, Chicago was down 3-1 to the #7 Detroit Red Wings. The Blackhawks would come back to beat their rivals in seven games. The Blackhawks would then beat the #5 Los Angeles Kings, who were the defending Stanley Cup champions in five games in the Western Conference Finals. However, three of the four wins in the series for the Blackhawks were by one goal including a 4-3 win in double overtime in the deciding game five.
Boston finished one point behind Montreal in the Northeast Division. The Bruins were seeded 4th in the Eastern Conference. Boston took a 3-1 series lead against the #5 seed Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round. However, the Maple Leafs forced a game seven. Toronto was up 4-1 in the third period of that game, and still up 4-2 with less than 2 minutes to go. Boston would tie it up and end up winning in overtime 5-4. The Bruins have been nearly unstoppable since then, dispatching the #6 New York Rangers in five games and then sweeping the #1 seeded Pittsburgh Penguins in the Conference Finals. Boston outscored Pittsburgh 12-2 in the series, but games 3 and 4 were close low scoring affairs. Boston won game three 2-1 in double overtime and the clinching game four 1-0. The Bruins-Penguins series was the first series in NHL history where neither team converted a power play goal.
Boston and Chicago did not meet this season because of the lock-out shortened season. However, Boston has beaten Chicago 6 of the last 8 times they have played.
Boston is coached by Claude Julien. The Bruins are averaging 3.12 goals per game and giving up 1.88 in the playoffs. Boston is averaging 36 shots per game and giving up 33. The Bruins are 7 for 45 on the power play or 15.6%. Boston has allowed 1 short handed goal. The Bruins have killed 45 of 52 penalties in the playoffs or 86.5%. The Bruins have one short handed goal. The Bruins have won 56% of faceoffs, which is the best among playoff teams. The Bruins are averaging 10.2 penalty minutes per game.
Goalie Tukka Rask is 12-4 in the playoffs with a 1.75 goals against average. He has allowed 30 goals on 527 shots faced. His save percentage is .943 and he has two shutouts. Rask was on the Bruins’ practice squad during their Cup run in 2011.
Center David Krejci leads the playoffs in points and goals with 21 and 9 respectively. Right wing Nathan Horton has 7 goals and 10 assists. Left wing Milan Lucic has 3 goals and 10 assists. Left wing Brad Marchand has 4 goals and 9 assists. Defenseman Zdeno Chara has 2 goals and 9 assists. Center Patrice Bergeron has 5 goals and 6 assists. Rookie defenseman Torey Krug has 4 goals and 2 assists. Veteran right wing Jaomir Jagr has 7 assists. He is playing the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 21 years, a record among the four major sports. The Bruins need to get more production from talented young center Tyler Seguin who only has a goal and 3 assists in the playoffs. Center Gregory Campbell broke his leg against the Penguins and is out for the season. Campbell was hit with a puck while on the Bruins’ penalty kill unit, yet still completed his minute long shift despite breaking the leg.
Chicago is coached by Joel Quenneville. In the playoffs the Blackhawks are scoring 2.76 goals per game and allowing 1.94. Chicago is averaging 33 shots per game and is allowing 28 per game. Chicago has struggled on the power play in the playoffs converting only 7 out of 51 chances or 13.7%.. Chicago has only allowed three power play goals in 58 times shorthanded or 94.8%. The Blackhawks have one shorthanded goal in the playoffs. Chicago has won 47% of their face-offs. Chicago is averaging 9.4 penalty minutes per game.
Chicago goalie Corey Crawford is 12-5 in the playoffs with a 1.74 goals against average. He has a save percentage of .935 and has one shutout. He has allowed 37 goals with 474 shots faced. Like Rask, he was the back-up goalie on the Blackhawks’ Cup run in 2010.
Center Patrick Sharp has 8 goals and 6 assists. Right wing Marian Hossa has 7 goals and 7 assists. Right wing Patrick Kane has 6 goals and 8 assists. Left wing Brian Bickell has 8 goals and 5 assists. Defenseman Duncan Keith has 2 goals and 9 assists. Centers Jonathan Toews and Miachael Handzus both have 9 points Center Andrew Shaw has 7 points. Center Michael Frolik has 3 goals and 3 assists. Defenseman Steve Montador is out for the season with a concussion but he hasn’t played since early March.
Boston is 5-0 against teams with winning records, and overall, 4-0 after allowing 2 goals or less, and after a win, 6-1 against Central Division teams, 4-1 in Stanley Cup Finals games, 22-7 on 3 or more days rest, 5-2 in road games, and 36-15 in Wednesday games.
Chicago is 4-0 against Northeast teams, 7-1 against Eastern Conference teams, 4-1 on 3 or more days rest, and in Wednesday games, 40-12 when the opponent scores 2 goals or less, 48-17 overall, 38-14 when the opponent allows 2 goals or less, 40-15 at home, and 41-16 after a win.
Rask and Crawford have been red hot in the playoffs. Boston is scoring more consistently though. Both teams are struggling on the power play. I think Chicago wins a close seven game series, with a couple of overtime games thrown in.
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