Bruins will have to conquer NHL’s best to capture Cup

Zdeno Chara and Patrick Kane are sure to tangle during the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals. (Getty Images)
Zdeno Chara and Patrick Kane are sure to tangle during the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals. (Getty Images)

To win the 2013 Stanley Cup, the Boston Bruins will truly have to earn it by beating the undisputed best teams from the NHL’s shortened regular season. After sweeping the top team in the Eastern Conference in the Pittsburgh Penguins, the B’s are now set to face the Chicago Blackhawks – the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference and the NHL leader in points during the regular season (Game 1, Wednesday night, 8 p.m., NBC). Like Pittsburgh, Chicago is not afraid to roll four lines although keep in mind that strategy can go out the window under different circumstances in playoff games.

Patrick Kane (6 goals, 8 assists, plus-4 this postseason) and Jonathan Toews (1 goal, 8 assists, plus-4) are household names in the NHL and with good reason. Chicago’s two young superstars are some of the better forwards in the game; Kane is probably the most offensively talented American forward and Toews, aka Captain Serious (as he’s been called), is a carbon copy of Patrice Bergeron. The wealth of talent doesn’t end there for the Blackhawks up front as Marian Hossa (7 goals, 7 assists, plus-8) and Patrick Sharp (8 goals, 6 assists, plus-4) are also on the top two lines. The wild card for them is Bryan Bickell, a hulking forward who has put up eight goals and five assists (plus-6) after scoring only nine goals in the regular season. He’s a free agent to be so that might be a big reason for his production this season, but whatever the case he’s playing the best hockey of his life.

 Boston faces its biggest challenge of the postseason against Chicago in terms of their mobile defensemen. What the Blackhawks lack in size on the blueline, they make up for in speed and puck carrying ability. Duncan Keith (2 goals, 9 assists, plus-11) is one of the best offensive defensemen in the NHL and he teams with Brent Seabrook (2 goals, 1 assists, minus-2) on Chicago’s top defensive pairing. Keith is a whiz on the power play although you wouldn’t know it based on the Blackhawks’ struggles in the postseason with the man advantage. Niklas Hjalmarsson (5 assists, plus-10) and Johnny Oduya (2 goals, 3 assists, plus-9) are the underrated second defensive pairing for Chicago.

The series could very well be decided by Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford’s (12-5, 1.74 GAA, .935 save percentage, 1 shutout) play. So far, he’s started every game for the Blackhawks this postseason and he’s never been pulled. He’s allowed three goals or less in every contest except Game 2 vs. Detroit in the Western Conference semifinals (4 goals). He’s big (6-foot-2, 208 pounds) but not super athletic and he’s prone to a very soft goal once in a while. Chicago doesn’t seem to have any weaknesses, besides the power play, but we thought the same thing about Pittsburgh a few weeks ago.

The Bruins can absolutely beat the Blackhawks, but they’ll need to play at something close to their top level like they demonstrated against the Penguins.

Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter @RichSlate



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

PHOTO: Queen Elizabeth pulls off epic photobomb

The selfie / photobomb has gone viral.

Local

Astoria minivan crash kills 1, injures 6: NYPD

Anthony Boyd, 45, died soon after what investigators believe was some sort of medical emergency as he drove his family through Astoria on Sunday afternoon.

Local

NYC pension funds valued at $160b: Scott Stringer

The five NYC pension funds that thousands of city employees contribute to saw its fifth year in a row of increased returns, up $23 billion from last year.

International

Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.

Entertainment

'Kim Kardashian: Hollywood' game easter eggs and cheats

"Kim Kardashian: Hollywood" is the hottest game of the moment. Here are its best easter eggs as well as some tips and tricks to speed your way to the top.

Television

Kacy Catanzaro credits mind over body in "American…

Kacy Catanzaro credits her victory to mental focus and upper body strength.

Entertainment

Q&A: The brains behind 'Kim Kardashian: Hollywood'

"Kim Kardashian: Hollywood" is the hottest game of the moment. We talked with Christopher Locke of Glu Canada to find out more about developing the game.

Movies

The 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' trailer is…

Watch 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' trailer.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Tech

Amazon offers 3D printing to customize earrings, bobble…

By Deepa SeetharamanSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc will offer 3D printing services that allow customers to customize and build earrings, bobble head toys and…

Wellbeing

This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…

Education

Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…

Education

Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…