June 11, 2013 at 4:54 PM #52327
Qbin Missile CrisisKeymaster
Stanley Cup Final Kicks Off Wednesday – Hawks Host Bruins
The culmination to an abbreviated season begins its final chapter on Wednesday night when the Stanley Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks begins in the Windy City. It marks the first time since 1979 that two Original Six teams will meet for hockey`s Holy Grail but strangely it will be the first time that these two teams have met in the Final. Wednesday also represents the first time that a Western Conference team has played an Eastern Conference team since last year`s final – familiarity certainly won`t be a determining factor! Both the Bruins and the Hawks made it look easy in the Conference Final – both enter Wednesday night well rested and playing their best hockey of the year. It has all the makings of a classic – I can`t wait!
Boston Bruins (40-17-4-3) at Chicago Blackhawks (48-11-1-5)
When: 8:00 PM ET, Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Where: United Center, Chicago, Illinois
Broadcast: CBC, NBC, RDS
Bruins vs. Hawks Betting Lines from betonline.com
Boston Bruins +1½ -250 +134 Ov 5 +136
Chicago Blackhawks -1½ +210 -147 Un 5 -150
The Bruins won the Cup against the Vancouver Canucks in 2011 – succeeding the Blackhawks, who defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in six games in 2010. They have plenty of experience heading into Game 1. The Bruins enter Game 1 with the best defense in the NHL – not a huge advantage over Chicago but an advantage nonetheless. Keep in mind that this team is coming off a series in which they allowed a total of two goals in four games to the best offense in the league – the Penguins who had averaged 4.27 goals per game in the playoffs before meeting them. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jarome Iginla and James Neal were held pointless in the East Final – unbelievable.
Tuukka Rask allowed just two goals in the Bruins four-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins. That effort included two shutouts, but perhaps his most impressive performance was in Boston’s 2-1 double-overtime win in Game 3. Rask turned aside 53 of 54 shots in that contest. In the playoffs he has been sensational – a 12-4 record, 1.75 goals-against average and .948 save percentage – better numbers than those of Tim Thomas after three rounds in 2011 – the last time the Bruins won the Cup.
Up front the Bruins have terrific as well. They have the top two scorers in the playoffs surprisingly – David Krejci leads the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 21 points while Nathan Horton, Krejci’s linemate, has 17 points and is a plus-14. Milan Lucic, the other piece of the top line, is an elite power forward and has 13 points. Brad Marchand also has 13 points. 13 forwards have scored a goal, and 10 have three or more points. They are as deep as a Boston team has ever been and can beat you with all four lines.
Chicago is the favorite coming out of the gate. The Blackhawks won the Presidents’ Trophy as the NHL’s best team; they finished 15 points ahead of Boston. They were the best team in the NHL during the regular season and look that way now as well. Chicago, like the Bruins has played very solid defense in the playoffs so far, they have gotten some terrific offensive efforts and their goaltending has been excellent this postseason.
The strength of the Hawks has to be the forwards but they will certainly be tested just as the Penguins were against Boston last round. Names like Toews and Marian Hossa are on one unit with Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp on the other are as good as it gets although Toews and Kane have both struggled at times. These two stars showed signs of breaking the slump toward the end of the last round however – a good sign for the Hawks heading into the final. Bryan Bickell is a great example of a depth player that’s taken a huge leap forward in the postseason with eight goals and 13 points in 17 games for Chicago and Michal Handzus, Andrew Shaw and Viktor Stalberg have been a bit inconsistent but are still quality guys that can make a difference at any point during a game.
Like the Bruins the Hawks have a terrific top 4 defense. Everyone knows what Duncan Keith brings, everyone knows that Brent Seabrook is an absolute elite guy but it has been the play of Nik Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya that have been a very nice surprise for the Hawks. They may not quite be as good as the Boston corp. but they can more than hold their own against any team in the league.
Corey Crawford has been every bit the number one goaltender that the Hawks needed heading into the playoffs – he has virtually matched Tuukka Rask save-for-save.
Betting Prediction: A few trends to consider:
• Over is 6-2-1 in BOS last 9 vs. Western Conference.
• BOS are 36-15 in their last 51 Wed. games.
• CHI are 7-1 in their last 8 vs. Eastern Conference.
• CHI are 48-17 in their last 65 overall.
• CHI are 40-15 in their last 55 home games.
• BOS are 6-2 in the last 8 meetings.
Game 1 favors the defense in this series – it has all the makings of a “feel-out” sort of contest especially since these teams have yet to play each other this season. Because of that I like the Bruins who have the stronger overall defense to prevail. This team is 8-1 since almost bowing out to the Leafs in Round 1 – it doesn’t matter if they are on the road or if they are at home – the Bruins have been dominant. Boston’s defensive chops will rule Game 1 – the Hawks will take a game to adjust!
Pick: Boston Bruins +134
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.