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Bruins vs Blackhawks for the Stanley Cup. Who Takes the Finals?

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Michael Walker
Michael Walker
Senior Analyst

The Blackhawks needed 2OTs to overcome the Kings to face Boston in the final series starting Wednesday night. P Kane was the difference for Chicago as he scored the winning goal.

The Bruins are peaking at the right time as they smothered the Penguins in a 4 game sweep. Their stifling defense shut down the Pens Crosby,Malkin & Letang for the entire series. I didn't expect all three of them to be held scoreless for even a game.

Can the Boston Bruins shut down the Chicago Blackhawks Kane and company the same way?

Michael Walker
Michael Walker
Senior Analyst

Franklin Steele of Bleacher Report has in in depth look at the championship series and an excellent breakdown of both teams.

Kale Roy
Kale Roy
Senior Columnist

Chicago in 7 and I will explain why:
Crawford is a much better goalie than the Penguin's duo of the last round.
Toews, Kane, and the rest of their top lines are peaking just at the right time.
Chicago will host 4 out of seven of the games.
Chicago's defense is much more equipped to handle power forwards than Pittsburgh (Keith and Seabrook are a shutdown line).
With no clear leader, Boston could falter like they did against Toronto.
I question whether Rask can keep his excellence up (never before has he had full duty).
and Chicago will be capping off their 36-7-5 record with a cup.

@Michael Walker, here is the big x-factor with this series

Michael Walker
Michael Walker
Senior Analyst

@Kale, Since the Penguins lost I really don't have a dog in this fight anymore. But I am anxious to watch what are probably the two best teams go head to head for the cup.

Steele's article had me absolutely convinced that the Bruins simply have more talent overall. David Krejci, Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic looked unstoppable against "my" Pens. He has the goalies as pretty much a wash. (by the overall numbers they are).

However, you make a pretty compelling argument for the Blackhawks as well. Now I don't feel very confident that either team will dominate, and it could be a low scoring 7 game series.

Ian Davis
Ian Davis
Analyst

@Kale I don't see the Blackhawks winning this series at all. The Bruins could not be hotter and have more momentum than they do right now. While Crawford is a much better goalie than the less than stellar duo of goalies that the Penguins brought to the table, that will not have a significant impact on this series. The goalies of both teams are very similar in ability, and Rask is very hot right now.

@Michael Walker the Bruins do have much more talent all throughout their bench on offense and defense. While the Blackhawks have their star studded offense with Kane, Toews and company, Chara will be able to neutralize their offensive ability and he has shut down superstars in the past. However, the most important thing in the playoffs is momentum and the Bruins could not have more. The Blackhawks have limped through the later rounds of the playoffs compared to their expectation. The Bruins are firing on all cylinders and will win this series in 6.

Michael Walker

@Ian Davis, It is beginning to look to me like this may indeed be a dogfight. You're more confident in the Bruins than even Franklin Steele, and you didn't even mention Krejci, Horton or Lucic.

Kyle Lindemann

Has anyone not been watching? Tuukka Rask is just about impossible to score on! I say Boston in 6.

Connor Cucalón
Connor Cucalón
Analyst

Everyone is saying that the Blackhawks are peaking at the right time, I don't know, I feel like the Bruins are even more so! They have dominated these playoffs and I don't see them letting their collective foot off the gas. @Kyle Lindemann drops the great point of Rask. This is going to be a battle and I don't even know how many games this will go, but I'm taking the Bruins in 7, only because Chicago has the home ice advantage.

Kyle Lindemann
Kyle Lindemann
Senior Columnist

The greatest neutralizer in hockey is Goaltending. Even though Rask is young he is playing unbelievably right now. Chicago won their clincher 4-3 last night. They can't expect to give up 3 goals against the Bruins in the Finals and expect to win.

Jordan Byers
Jordan Byers
Senior Columnist

I think it will be a tight series. Boston is playing really well right now and Rask has been impossible to score against but I still think the Blackhawks take the series. Ultimately, they are a more complete team and they have the home ice advantage. Also, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have started playing at an extremely high level and will be hard to stop in the finals.

Michael Walker
Michael Walker
Senior Analyst

@Kyle Lindemann, I picked the Bruins too! I'll even drink a Sam Adams! Isn't it funny how goaltending is bad in basketball, but is good in hockey? @Jordan Byers, you may be prophetic, and if so it will still be here that you said it when it's over and feel free to remind us.

Before the first series of the NBA playoffs were over I asked everyone to pick the two teams in the finals and the winner. I picked the Heat and Pacers, with the Pacers pulling an upset.

Ps Projekt
Ps Projekt
Columnist

Chicago:
The Blackhawks were the best team in the NHL all season long, plain and simple. Their reward for such a special regular season, aside from winning the Presidents' Trophy with a whopping 77 points in 48 games, was home-ice advantage throughout their run in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. In recent years, home ice hasn't really mattered all that much. In these playoffs, it's been a huge advantage in just about every series across both conferences. Blackhawks will win if they use their speed and transition game in order to get the puck deep so they can play in the offensive zone. If you've heard this before -- well, it's because you have. This is the exact same recipe for success that the Blackhawks had against the Kings. If the Bruins are better in the neutral zone, Chicago will be in deep trouble. The Blackhawks have to win that area of the ice because success there leads to the type of offensive game they have to play.

X-factors : Kane-Toews and Hawks ''rolling in the deep style''

Boston:
The Boston Bruins are going back to the Stanley Cup Final because they have a system of play in which they believe implicitly. That faith is the bedrock to all that they do. After surviving a first-round scare against the Toronto Maple Leafs, which featured one of the most improbable third-period comebacks in NHL history in Game 7, the Bruins have embraced their identity and sailed through the Stanley Cup Playoffs, losing once in their past nine games. Amazingly, they did not lose at all in the conference final against a high-octane Penguins club that entered the series as the highest-scoring team in the postseason. Pittsburgh left with two goals in four games -- neither by any of their superstars. Bruins will win if they play like they did against the Penguins. Essentially, the Bruins played a perfect series to bounce Pittsburgh in four straight. Boston received opportunistic offense, played patient and conscientious defense, got elite-level goaltending, excelled at penalty killing and kept its cool when Pittsburgh couldn't. The Bruins can do it again because all of those things are part of the foundation of the system for success, one that was validated with a Stanley Cup triumph 24 months ago. If they are hitting successfully on each one, they become a team with few flaws that is nearly impossible to rattle or break down.

X-factors : Tuukka time and Force (defensive+offensive)=Control of the neutral zone

The finalists are very similar in construction. Each features a goalie playing at an elite level, a varied defense corps capable of playing both ends of the ice, and a deep fleet of forwards that features a potential game-changer on each line. All in all, it appears to be a recipe for an unforgettable Stanley Cup Final. I will go with the Bruins but not with all my heart because Chicago is the favorite coming out of the gate and if they keep their "serve" -home adv- they maybe have a match point.

Scott Whittum
Scott Whittum
Editor

@Michael Walker, here is the big x-factor with this series. Both teams were stuck playing in their own conference during the regular season. Thus, it could be argued that the Blackhawks my not be completely for the Bruins physical grind it out style of play. I like the way the Bruins are rolling right now and they fund a way to a win like they against the Canucks two years ago.

Michael Walker
Michael Walker
Senior Analyst

@Ps Projekt, incredible breakdown of both teams. You did your homework and I really respect that. You leave me with no arguments against your logic. @Scott Whittum, I always look forward to your replies. You are way too often right. I know the Blackhawks are favored, but I believe the Bruins will pull it off. If they do, it should be Samuel Adams all the way around!

Eric Shulman
Eric Shulman
Columnist

Bruins take Game 1 due to the 2OT game Chicago endured against the LA Kings. In the end, Chicago just has two many weapons on offense in Toews, Kane, Hossa, Bickel...along with the emergence of Duncan Keith from the point. After a quick stumble, the Hawks will take this series in six games.

Mike Schlottman
Mike Schlottman
Analyst

I say Bruins in 7. It's going to be a tight series but I believe Boston has the better overall team. The only bummer is that the Bruins will win the Cup in Chicago, so unfortunately, they won't be showered with squid being thrown on the ice.

Connor
Connor
Columnist

Call me a homer, but I really like this Bruins team. They may be the most complete team I have ever seen. They run four lines, have too many options on defense (Chara, Seidenberg, Boychuk, McQuaid, Ference, Krug, Bartkowski, Hamilton), and a stellar goalie. The Krejci, Horton, Lucic Line is looking unstoppable, Chara is playing maybe his best hockey in two years, and Tuukka Rask is making every play.

A lot of people argued that the B's wouldn't be able to control the high-powered Pens, but everyone stepped up and played at their highest level of the season. They got a jolt from Krug during the Rangers series and he has continued to play at a really high level for them.

What makes the Bruins really dangerous is that they can play several different styles of hockey. They have the ability to throw a finesse game at you and then come back with a hard-hitting game.

I know the Blackhawks are extremely talented but I don't know if they will be able to keep up with this Bruins team that has won 9 of their last 10 games and have gone 6-2 on the road during the playoffs.

I'm predicting Bruins in 6.

Michael Walker
Michael Walker
Senior Analyst

@Connor Meiselman: Another excellent analysis of the Bruins team! I know the Blackhawks are favored, but it's based upon the teams play during the regular season. As you guys so succinctly put it, this is not the same Bruins team that played the regular season. Teams either improve or regress in the playoffs. Both of these teams seem to have improved, but the Bruins more so.

You know someone named Homer is eventually going to join this site. That will be funny, every time he praises his home team.

Benika Chena

Bruins!! All the way! From what I've seen, Boston has the game under control no matter the circumstances.

Andrew Mack
Andrew Mack
Senior Columnist

Definitely going to be a hard fought series. I'm going with Bruins in 6. I think they are playing their best hockey of the season right now and are the stronger team than Chicago at this point. Tuukka Rask is a better goalie than Crawford and I think that is what eventually makes the difference.

Michael Walker
Michael Walker
Senior Analyst

@Andrew Mack, I certainly agree the bruins are peaking right now. I don't know if I could call Rask the better goalie as they are both at the top of their game right now. I think the Bruins forwards are the difference.

Josh Mahoney
Josh Mahoney
Editor

For all the people that are trying to claim the high powered offense of Kane, Toews and company please refer back to the discussion of the Eastern Conference Finals and wherever it says Crosby and Malkin you can substitute. Oh and then remember that those top lines were able to produce jack squat.

As far as the arguments of which team is peaking the answer is both they are both in the Stanley Cup freaking Finals meaning they both peaked at the right time.

The reason I'm taking the Bruins is because of their depth. They proved in their series against the Penguins that it's not always the superstars who win the games. In the Blackhawks deciding game they needed Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith. The Bruins needed a defenseman by the name of Adam McQuaid.

@Kale :
It doesn't matter if Crawford is better than the Pens duo when your team isn't able to score a goal it's pretty hard to win
See first paragraph for answer to Toew's and Kane peaking
Pittsburgh also thought they would be hosting four home games, tough to do when you only played four total games
Your point about their defense being better suited is valid, but the Bruins are too deep with their four lines who can produce and they don't rely on big names to score goals that Keith and Seabrook can consistently match up against.
The Bruins have leaders by the names of Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron or how about future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr. Bottom line, leadership is not an issue.
Why would Rask falter now, he's been the go to guy all season and just played his best series, what about this coming series will be so different? If anything he has shined brightest when he was needed most. And here's my proof

Kyle Lindemann

Rask is just too good of a Goalie right now. He looks like a young Eddie Balfour out there.

Ian Davis
Ian Davis
Analyst

@Kyle Lindemann I definetely agree that Rask is very hot right now, and he is coming into his role at just the right time. Also, just another point, I am getting very tired of commentators and others arguing that the Blackhawks can't be beat in this series because of their great regular season record. They have not played a team from the Eastern Conference this entire year. The Western Conference was significantly less talented than the Eastern Conference, and the Blackhawks will be startled when puck drops and they see the physicality of the Bruins.

Ricky
Ricky
Columnist

@Kale
-Crawford has let in some softies last series, but for the most part he looked pretty good. But Thomas Vokoun was not the reason that Pittsburg lost, he actually played pretty well
-Crosby's line was peaking in the Eastern Semi's before they ran into the Bruins and matching up versus Chara/Sidenberg and Rask, as well as great two-way centers like Bergeron & Krecji. Hawks have been mixing up the top lines a lot - Kane wasnt peaking until he exploded in game 7, not sure if his game matches up very well against the Bs
-will home ice be that big of an advantage for the Hawks? think back to B's winning game 7 on road in Vancouver
-The Bruins have multiple leaders in their locker room. Chara, Bergeron, Thorton, and Ference are all capable leaders just like Toews. Their coach is also arguable one of the best from a leadership standpoint. Leadership is the last thing you should try and use to poke holes in the Bruins' game.
-Rask may be young, but he has matured so much this postseason (no longer slams stick when he gives up goals), and was a starting goaltender for the Bruins in '09-'10 season. Hottest goalie in the playoffs right now = recipe for winning the cup (Thomas '11, Quick '12).

Bruins in 5.

Michael Walker
Michael Walker
Senior Analyst

I guess we'll find out tomorrow night who's still hot and who's not. Both teams will be well rested and most of them will have nagging minor injuries healed.

This is my first year of watching hockey, but you guys have really helped me get a grasp of the game. I'm already excited about the start of the finals and it's over 24 hours away!

Ally Harris
Ally Harris
Analyst

The Bruins had seven days off between rounds two and three and were still able to stay hot, so I think they'll still be on the rampage. If they remain as hot as they have been ever since the end of game 7 against the Leafs, I just don't see any way Chicago can knock them down. The Blackhawks are a great team, but it's a huge challenge.

Michael Walker
Michael Walker
Senior Analyst

@Ally Harris, I agree. The oddsmakers in Vegas have the Blackhawks favored by 1 for game one in Chicago as they should. But just like you, I don't think so! The Penguins scored just 2 goals in the whole freakin' series against the Bruins. Should be a good game though with the Blackhawks rested.

Stephen Aitchison
Stephen Aitchison
Columnist

I would like to think Chicago is going to take the series. But after game one and in the last series, Boston has been anything but bad. I believe Boston is going to take the series in 6 games, they are just too strong and defense beats offense any day, and Bostons Defense is incredible.

Michael Walker

Well stated @Stephen Aitchison . I expect the Bruins to make offensive adjustments to match the defensive ones they made in game 1. I'm still sleepy!

Kale Roy

Yeah! Eric Shulman and I are off to a good start! (It seems we are the only ones in this whole post to pick the hawks)

Kyle Lindemann

What a great game! Poor Tuukka too! The last 2 goals Chicago scored weren't his fault at all either! I enjoyed every minute of last night's game.

Michael Walker

Kudos to @Kale and @Eric Shulman! (so far)

Jon Lau
Jon Lau
Analyst

While I'm not a big hockey fan and am just starting to watch the game with some regularity, I can't say who I think will win. Reading all your comments though has given me some insight into the series. I just think that it would be best if the Boston Bruins won. After all that they have been through with the Boston Marathon bombings, I think the people of Boston deserve something to cheer about. I have no affiliation to either team, city, or state. Am I wrong for wanting that? Either way last night was a perfect game to watch to get someone like me to want to watch hockey. That 3OT was edge of your seat exciting.

Michael Walker
Michael Walker
Senior Analyst

@Jon Lau, there is absolutely nothing wrong with your reasons for wanting the Bruins to win. The first game was certainly an attention grabber no matter which team you're cheering for. I am a new fan of hockey much like yourself. Being here helps. These guys know what they're talking about, especially when it comes to the ins and outs of different teams.

It's going to be one hell of a series. Enjoy it and let's debate it!