June 11, 2013
Keys to Bruins success in Stanley Cup Finals
by Joe Boikess
After barely scraping through the first round of the playoffs, the Boston Bruins have made it back to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second time in three seasons. The Bruins’ opponent, the Chicago Blackhawks, won the Cup in 2010 and was a consensus expert pick to represent the Western Conference this year. Most people didn’t think the Bruins would get past the mighty Pittsburgh Penguins in the East, but they swept the regular season’s highest scoring team with relative ease. Here are the keys to Bruins success in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Power Play – the Bruins managed to get by the Penguins in the East Finals without scoring a single goal on the power play. If they hope to raise the Cup once again, they’re going to have to convert some opportunities with the man advantage. It won’t be easy, as Chicago’s penalty kill has a ridiculous success rate of 94.8 percent in the playoffs.
Top line success – most hockey fans that have followed the playoffs closely this year would agree that the Bruins’ forward trio of David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton has been the best line in the league. The three have combined for 51 points through the first three rounds of the playoffs, and they will need that success to continue if they want to match up with Chicago’s equally dangerous top line that features Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp.
Goaltending – Tim Thomas, who? Tuukka Rask has been even better than Boston’s former net-minder during their 2011 Cup run, posting a league-best .943 save percentage through three rounds this postseason. Corey Crawford, Chicago’s little-known goalie, boasts a playoff-best 1.72 goals against average. In my mind, the winner of this matchup takes the series. With the way that Boston’s offense has been rolling, I don’t see how Crawford can win this battle.
Prediction: Bruins in 6