Melrose: Bruins, Blackhawks are evenly matched

Sunday, 06.16.2013 / 6:08 PM | Barry Melrose  - NHL Network Analyst

After two games of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins are tied 1-1. Here are some of the things I'm thinking about:

It's as even as we thought: The first two games had different stretches where each team had momentum, but in general they were evenly-matched games. These two teams are very close. Obviously if the game is faster, that favors Chicago and if it's slower that favors Boston. Special teams don't look like they're going to be a big factor given how strong each team is at penalty killing, but in general it just looks like these are two excellent, evenly-matched hockey clubs.

Strength in net: I've been impressed by both goaltenders so far, but in particular I've been impressed by Chicago's Corey Crawford. They've both been awesome, but as I said last week, Crawford is a guy I don't think has been getting enough credit for Chicago's success. He hasn't played a bad game in the playoffs and he may have given up one or two soft goals, but he's been rock solid in net throughout the postseason. His numbers are fantastic, he's been a very good puck-handler who makes good decisions when he has possession. Tuukka Rask has also been great and really showed how important he is in Game 2 Saturday. Without a doubt, Rask is the only reason that game was close going into the second period. Keeping your team in a game when its being outplayed is what a great goaltender is supposed to do, and Rask certainly did it.

Injuries taking a toll on Boston: We all knew Gregory Campbell's broken leg would have an impact on Boston, but it may be bigger than we had imagined. Game 2 showed the Bruins don't really have a fourth line anymore. Shawn Thornton played about five minutes, which shows they're basically going with three lines and only playing the fourth line a little bit. The series is even right now, but that's definitely an advantage for Chicago, which can still roll four lines pretty steadily. The Blackhawks did have their fourth line on the ice when Daniel Paille scored the game-winner in overtime for the Bruins, but the longer this series goes, the bigger an advantage that could be for Chicago. Campbell's injury has clearly played a role, and if Nathan Horton's injury ends up being more serious than it's been made out to be, that could be an even bigger problem for the Bruins.

The stars will have to be stars: So far, the Blackhawks and Bruins have both gotten some goals from their third line, but in the end, that won't be enough to win the series. I think Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have to be the guys to do it for Chicago. The Blackhawks can't win this series if the big guys don't start scoring. Boston I don't think can win this series if Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci or Milan Lucic aren't playing their part, either. The stars are going to determine this series.

There will be more momentum swings: It seems like one team gets momentum and the other one strikes back in this series. Boston had it in the first game and the Bruins couldn't close the deal. In Game 2, the Blackhawks had momentum and they let the Bruins back into the game. That's what happens when you have evenly-matched teams. When you get a chance to put a team down, you've got to do it. Boston couldn't do it in Game 1. Chicago couldn't do it in Game 2. It's going to continue like that.

Back to top