Stanley Cup Finals Has The Hated Bruins Against Blackhawks
By Jessy Dhillon
Well here we are! The Stanley Cup finals! In a nightmare final for Canucks fans, this year’s match up features two of the most storied hockey franchises in the National Hockey League. The Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks are part of the “Original Six” along with the Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadians and New York Rangers. Surprisingly, even though the Bruins and Blackhawks have been in the league for seventy years; this is the first Stanley Cup match up between the two American teams. Also, this is the first “Original Six” Stanley Cup matchup since 1979 when the Montreal Canadians beat the New York Rangers in five games. I think it’s great to have two large American cities with deep hockey roots facing off for the Stanley Cup final.
The 2013 Stanley Cup Final is loaded with some of National Hockey League’s elite players. Let’s look at the key players in all three sides of the game. First we will start off with goaltending. Tukka Rask of the Boston Bruins is one of the best young goalies in the league, he has heated up just in the right time. Tukka Rask is sporting a 12-4 record in the playoffs with 3 of the losses coming in the first round series against the Maple Leafs. Since game seven between the Leafs and Bruins, Rask has won 9 out of 10 games. His goal against average is an excellent 1.74 along with a .943 save percentage. Tukka Rask was the reason Boston could afford to let Tim Thomas go. In 2011, Thomas led the Bruins to the Stanley Cup Championship over the Vancouver Canucks (I’ll never get over that).
Many people questioned the ability of Cory Crawford being able to take a team to the Stanley Cup finals. He had a great series against the Canucks in 2011, but had a mediocre at-best year in the following season. Crawford has stepped up big in this year’s playoffs and quieted his critics (myself included). The Blackhawks goaltender is 12-5 with a save percentage of .935 and a goals against average of 1.74. Statistically both goalies in the series are pretty even, however I would give the edge slightly to Tukka Rask.
Defensemen: Both teams have all-star defensemen leading their defensive corps. The Bruins have 6 foot 9 inch Zdeno Chara who logs almost 30 minutes a game. It is pretty hard for opposing teams to score when “Big Z” is on the ice. He is a plus 12 in the playoffs while playing almost half of the game. Having Chara play so many minutes is a blessing for Coach Claude Julien because his team does not have great depth at defense. B.C. boys, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook lead the defense for the Chicago Blackhawks. Duncan Keith is one of the best puck moving defensemen in the NHL. Not only is Keith defensively sound, he is a quarterback for Chicago’s deadly and potent power play. Keith leads the team in ice time with averaging over 25 minutes per game. Brent Seabrook is a big and tough defenseman who can skate well. His numbers are not as great as Keith’s but he is a leader for the talented Blackhawks. I would give the edge to Chicago regarding defense. They have great depth with players like Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya who both log over 20+ minutes a game. Playing a physical team like Boston gives the risk of players being injured. Chicago is in good shape if they were to lose a defenseman due to injury. Boston would be in big trouble if Zdeno Chara would get hurt.
Forwards: The Boston Bruins have four solid lines of forwards that come at the opposing teams in waves. Chicago must focus on not getting into it with Brad Marchand, who in my opinion is one of the dirtiest players in the game but comes up big in the playoffs. David Krejci leads the Bruins balanced scoring attack with 21 points in the first 3 rounds. Vancouver’s own Milan Lucic is always causing havoc out on the ice and opening up opportunities for his teammates. It’ll be great to see Bryan Bickell who is around the same size as Lucic go at it. Both players have 13 points throughout the first 3 rounds. We cannot forget about the legendary Jaromir Jagr. Even at age 41, the guy can still produce and is always a power play threat. Chicago features some great all-star forwards who can all put the puck in the net when it matters. Patrick Kane started the playoffs slow but came alive in the game 5 elimination of the LA Kings. Kane scored a hat-trick which included the game winning goal in double overtime. Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa are always a threat to score when they are on the ice, Bruins defensemen must play them closely and give them no room to score. Jonathan Toews had a real rough start to the playoffs, especially against Detroit where he seemed to unravel and take unnecessary penalties. Toews has looked like he finally found his game just in time for the Stanley Cup final. Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw are two role players that can make an impact when given the opportunity on the ice. Even though I feel Chicago has more top end forward talent. I feel Boston has a more complete set of forward lines that keep opposing teams stressing throughout the game.
Prediction: As much as I hate to pick the Bruins, I have to. The Boston Bruins have looked like a team on a mission ever since there was 10 minutes left in game 7 of the first round against the Leafs. They have dominated teams in all areas of the game. The Boston Bruins will beat the Chicago Blackhawks in 7 games and win their second Stanley Cup in three years.
Jessy Dhillon is an avid sports fanatic and community youth leader, who’s passion for hockey started at the age of 6 when he started watching Wayne Gretzky play for the Los Angeles Kings. He is a long-time resident of Richmond BC and has deep roots in the Richmond Sports scene through playing youth sports, coaching high school basketball at his former high school Matthew McNair Secondary and organizing sports tournaments for the community