The Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks are set to play for the greatest trophy in sports: the Stanley Cup. It's the first Original Six matchup in the finals since 1979.
The Bruins and Blackhawks are very similar teams with very little to separate them. It's going to be a very entertaining series. And with puck drop just a day away, let's take a look at how these two teams matchup.
Just like the Eastern Conference Finals, the Bruins are facing some very talented and skill forwards. The Blackhawks deploy the likes of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, and Patrick Sharp. The Bruins will have to be at their best to shut them down. Sharp, Hossa, and Kane are all tied for sixth in the NHL with 14 points in the playoffs. While Toews has just nine points so far, you can never be too careful with him.
But unlike Pittsburgh, the Blackhawks have the depth to match the Bruins. Bryan Bickell has emerged during these playoffs, scoring eight goals and 13 points. Bickell has just nine goals in the regular season. The Bruins third and fourth lines are going to have tougher matchups this series.
While the Bruins don't have many household names among the forwards, they are just as good as the Blackhawks. David Krejci (21 points) and Nathan Horton (17 points) rank first and second in the NHL this postseason. Along with Milan Lucic (13 points) they form a very formidable first line that rivals the Blackhawks.
Like the Blackhawks, the Bruins are very deep up front. The best fourth line in the league resides in Boston, even with the absence of Gregory Campbell. They'll need the likes of Daniel Paille, Shawn Thornton, and Chris Kelly to come through if the Bruins want to win.
If Jaromir Jagr can get going, the Bruins forwards will be that much better.
The Blackhawks and Bruins are very similar defensively. Both teams have limited their opponents in the playoffs and their defense is a big reason why their both playing for the Stanley Cup. The Bruins are going to have a much tougher time cracking the Blackhawks defense than they did in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Blackhawks give up just 1.94 goals against and 28 shots a game.
The Bruins are just as stingy defensively. They surrender a playoff-leading 1.88 goals against and 32.9 goals against.
The biggest difference between the two defense units is the offensive production. The Bruins have received a surprising amount of production from the back-end, led by Zdeno Chara's 11 points. The biggest surprise has been Torey Krug, who has six points in nine games. In total, six defensemen have scored a goal for the Bruins.
The Blackhawks are led by Duncan Keith's 11 points. Johnny Oduya and Brent Seabrook are the only other Blackhawk defensemen to score. But that doesn't mean they can't. The Blackhawks have just an offensively potent D-core as the Bruins.
Tuukka Rask and Corey Crawford are the hottest goalies in the league. It helps that they're both pretty good too. They are the top two goalies in goals against average and save percentage. No one has played as well as these two have during the post season, regardless of what Steve Rosenbloom has to say. Goals are going to be tough to come by with these two in net.
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