Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Stanley Cup Final

The Stanley Cup final will begin tonight, with a best of 7 series match up between the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks. Both teams have great depth, enormous talent and are overall well balanced teams.  The Bruins have size and strength, and use that to their advantage to get the puck deep, hit bodies and make plays in the corners that lead to goals. On the other hand, the Blackhawks use their speed and quickness to their advantage to speed through the neutral zone and create odd man rushes that lead to goals. Although Tuukka Rask had been a solid goaltender for the Bruins when they faced the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Blackhawks do a better job of putting more bodies in front of the net so that Rask won’t always have a clear view of the puck.  The Blackhawks have been good on the penalty kill and with the weak power play the Bruins have exemplified, penalty kills should be no struggle for the Blackhawks.  A major weakness for the Blackhawks is their faceoff wins, especially in their own zone, while the Bruins are good at face offs the Blackhawks struggle. The elite scores for the Blackhawks have to be more consistent offensively, especially since the Bruins excel at shutting down the elite scorers.   Overall, the Bruins have struggled against teams with speed; they play more of a physical game and use their size to their advantage.  With the Blackhawks suffering big hits from the Bruins they could be worn down quickly, it will be interesting to see how the Blackhawks deal with a physical team engaging them in big hits.  The Blackhawks will have to improve on their face offs if they want to win, especially when they are in their own zone. With Toews, Kane and Sharp struggling get the puck into the net, Bryan Bickell has emerged strong, establishing a position near the net and has been hard to knock down.  Bickell will have to continue this level of performance against the Bruins.  Another game changer for the Blackhawks, Maria Hossa, with his speed, strength, excellent puck handling and quick release shots the Blackhawks will be leaning on him to help them inch closer to the Stanley Cup. Zdeno Chara, the best defenseman and an awesome weapon for the Bruins, goes into battles to win but is not invulnerable the Blackhawks will have to force him into corners and take advantage of any turnovers that he might give them.  To quote a good friend Dave Null: “The mark of a champion is being able to step it up when it's all on the line... I think that we're about to see what Toews and Kane are really made of.” I am picking the Blackhawks to win, but ultimately the Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins will decide who wins the Stanley Cup, Game 1 starts tonight!

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