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
Local

MTA details back-up plan for commuters for potential…

The MTA said it was prepared to offer buses and ferries to counter a potential LIRR strike as early as July 20.

Local

Lawmakers look to regulate Elmo, Spider-Man and other…

After a string of incidents and growing concern, officials are hoping to regulate costumed characters that solicit money for photos in Times Square.

Local

Brooklyn Bridge Park rink opens up for free…

New Yorkers can now get three hours of free skate three days a week at a new rink alongside the East River in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Local

Babe Ruth bat sells for $214,000 at auction

A nearly century-old Babe Ruth bat sold for $214,000 at a memorabilia auction Saturday night.

Gossip

Jenni 'JWoww' Farley gives birth

First came smooshing, then came love, then came a baby.

Movies

Interview: Josh Gad on 'Wish I Was Here'…

"Wish I Was Here" star Josh Gad talks about "Garden State," the pain of playing mean and how kids today know that he's the voice of "Frozen"'s snowman.

Movies

Box office: Humans let 'Apes' conquer humans, giant…

This weekend at the box office, audiences flocked to watch humanity get dominated by a bunch of CGI apes.

Movies

Noel Clarke wants in on ‘Star Wars’

Former "Doctor Who" co-star Noel Clarke has his sights set on the "Star Wars" franchise next, and personally he likes his odds of landing a role.

NBA

Nets lose Paul Pierce to two-year deal with…

Paul Pierce is taking a gamble on joining a franchise on the rise.

NBA

GIF: LeBron James returns to Cleveland so deal…

To anyone out there who is upset about his decision, this .GIF is for you. Enjoy.

World Cup

A game of two popes: Vatican plays down…

By Philip PullellaVATICAN CITY (Reuters) - With Argentina meeting Germany in the World Cup final, the Vatican on Friday brushed aside talk of soccer rivalry…

NFL

Which Jets player has the best odds at…

Metro New York asked Bovada.LV to rank the top three contenders for the NFL MVP on the Jets.

Education

Beat summer brain drain with these 5 tips

  Hazy, hot and humid summer afternoons have often been used as the perfect excuse to procrastinate. But summer can be a great time to…

Food

Peanut butter like you've never had it before

Peanut butter recipes for adult palate.

Parenting

3 lessons from Pinterest's most popular toddler

Meet Quinoa from the "My Imaginary Well-Dressed Daughter" Pinterest board.

Wellbeing

Fart gas might prevent cancer

You might not like the smell, but fart gas might help prevent cancer.