The good news from game one of the Stanley Cup Final was that if you’re a Chicago Blackhawks’ fan your team won a three-overtime epic to get a game advantage of Boston. The other good news is that television ratings for game one were the highest since 1997 when the Red Wings and Flyers faced off for the Cup.
The bad news is that Boston, who was coming off a stunning sweep of favored Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference Finals, twice gave up two goal leads before eventually falling 4-3 in triple-overtime. This was not the way the Bruins wanted to start the series against favored Chicago especially on the road in the Windy City.
As Bruins’ Head Coach Claude Julien said today, “Last game is last game. I’ve turned the page on that.” While I like and understand his logic, he has to make sure his club feels the same way and I think they do. This is a pretty veteran group who knows that winning the Cup is not easy by any stretch and I think they’ll be able to put it past them but that’s always easier said than done.
In order to move forward, the Bruins have to do what they did in sweeping the Penguins and that’s keep the lanes in front of Tuukka Rask clear. The Pens for whatever reason allowed Rask way too many clear views of shots and certainly the Boston defense had something to do with that but the Blackhawks clearly saw what the Pens were or ‘weren’t’ doing.
Chicago’s speed has been an issue for teams all year and really you could argue that it was finally Detroit’s undoing in the conference semi-finals. Boston appeared to handle it well in the early going but as the game wore on, the physical Bruins just seemed to run out of gas against some of the speedier combinations of Coach Joel Quenneville.
- I expect Rask to bounce back in game two and play much better.
One area that could severely tip the hand to that team that takes advantage of it is the power play. Both teams are what I would call ‘brutal’ with a man advantage and that’s being polite. Boston is currently 8 for 48 on the power play while Chicago is actually worse at 7 for 54. Part of that is because in the playoffs, there are typically fewer penalties called especially late in games. The other issue is that even average defensive teams crank up their penalty kill units in the playoffs and that appears to be exactly what both of the Stanley Cup Finalists have done.
I certainly can’t sit here and tell you which, if either team, will get it going with the extra skater but should one of them do so, the series could end quickly.
There was some speculation following the game one loss that rookie defenseman Torey Krug might not see the ice after his turnover led to Chicago’s second goal. The ‘Hawks quickly added another to tie the game. Julien was clear that there are mistakes that happen throughout games and Krug’s teammates also rallied around him by saying they could have done more to preserve the two-goal lead.
Boston at Chicago (Blackhawks lead 1-0) – this had the makings of a seven-game series when it started and I still feel that way. Both of the goalies are both playing well and I expect them to be even better in game two. Chicago enters favored by -1.5 but I like another one goal game. The over/under is five and I love the under here as I expect the defenses to be better as well as the goaltenders. I like Boston to even the series with a 2-1 win tonight.