Leading up to Wednesday's Game 1, Puck Daddy is previewing every facet of the Stanley Cup Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins — on the ice and off the ice.
The Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks both have a collection of solid forwards that are great on both ends of the ice and have made a Canucks fan cry at some point.
But who has the advantage in the Stanley Cup Final?
Chicago is back in the Stanley Cup Final, and not coincidentally it’s in a season when they finally figured out the supporting cast beyond its stars.
Oh, those stars. Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane all have 14 points in the postseason, each of them having had little hot streaks throughout the playoffs. Kane’s was the latest: an offensive burst in the final two wins against the LA Kings that saw him back to being one of the most dangerous players every shift.
Hossa and Sharp are expected to flank Jonathan Toews, who has only one goal (and eight helpers) in the playoffs, but who has played his typical brand of effective two-way hockey. And if the Blackhawks win, the writers will probably find some reason to give him the Conn Smythe. It's happened before.
Kane should start with Michal Handzus – surprisingly effective offensively as the No. 2 center with nine points – and Bryan Bickell, the power forward who has eight goals and a fat paycheck awaiting him in free agency.
Andrew Shaw is a physical force that sometimes can’t keep his emotions in check (and stay out of the penalty box). Rookie Brandon Saad has yet to find the back of the net in 17 games. Michael Frolik (six points) and Marcus Kruger (three points) are the team’s top penalty killers who are also offensive threats. Dave Bolland is a playoff veteran and could be a factor in this series if it turns nasty.
Then there’s Viktor Stalberg, who can’t seem to get on track offensively and is swapping spots with Brandon Bollig.
The Bruins are often portrayed as a bruising collection of forwards that work their defensive system and piss you off something wicked.
Hey, guess what? They can also put the puck in the net.
David Krejci leads the NHL with 21 playoff points, including nine goals, in 16 games. Please consider he had 33 points in 47 games in the regular season. So yeah, he’s been pretty good.
Right behind him: Nathan Horton, who has 17 points in 16 games and is an absurd plus-21. He has 34 points in 37 playoff games since being liberated from Florida.
Those two players skate with Milan Lucic (13 points) on the top line, and they’re a handful.
The second line is a hell of a thing. Patrice Bergeron wins 61 percent of his faceoffs, has five goals in 16 games and is every bit the defensive stopper that Zdeno Chara is. Brad Marchand is the best pest remaining in the playoffs, and has 13 points. Jaromir Jagr … well, he has awesome facial hair and totally got away with a hook on Malkin. But he has zero goals and seven assists in 16 games.
Tyler Seguin has been a conundrum for the Bruins in the playoffs, with one goal in 16 games and a permanent place on the team’s third line with Rich Peverley. Kaspars Daugavins replaced the injured Gregory Campbell in the Bruins’ lineup; Campbell’s defense and ability to play entire shifts with broken legs will be missed.
Daniel Paille has been outstanding in the postseason on the forecheck. Chris Kelly is a versatile forward, but has yet to tally a point. Shawn Thornton brings the thunder in limited minutes. We miss the Merlot Line already, sans Campbell.
It’s close, but the Blackhawks have just a little more depth and offensively explosive stars. That said: Krejci’s been the best forward in the playoffs, and could skate away with the Conn Smythe if the B’s win.
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