Wednesday, June 12, 2013

East -VS- West: 2013 Stanley Cup Finals Prediction!

1) Finally, we're down to the Final 2 teams to vie for Lord Stanley's Cup!  Neither are cinderella stories, having both won a Cup in the past couple of years. Both have expirenced, veteren lineups with plenty of talent. These two Original Six teams haven't met in the playoffs since the 1978 quarterfinals. There are loads of similarities between these two teams, starting with the depth up front, along the blue line, terrific goaltending and a veteran coaching staff. Interesting to note that while the Blackhawks and Bruins are returning to the finals after recent Cup wins, they both boast different starting goaltenders.   Rask and Crawford have both been big reasons their teams are here today.  With Crawford there were more than a few questions about his playoff worthiness after a disappointing turn against Phoenix last spring, but he has rarely wobbled this spring and boasts a 1.74 goals-against average and .935 save percentage.  As for Rask, he's turned in an eye-popping .943 save percentage. He shut out the NHL's top offense twice in four games and since the start of the second round has allowed more than two goals in just one game.

2)  Some would say the Blackhawks would have an edge in the skill department with Towes, Kane, Sharp, Hossa, Keith, etc, but the Bruins have been a deceptively dangerous team on offense, led by playoff points leader David Kreji.  He and fellow 1st line mates Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton have combined for 51 points, including 19 goals and five game winners, this spring. Bergeron has found great chemistry with longtime linemate Marchand and a rejuvenated Jaromir Jagr. The good news for the Blackhawks is that they are starting to click at the best possible moment. Kane now has four goals in his past two games. And while Toews might not be scoring goals at his usual pace, he remains a pivotal fixture on both sides of the puck for the Blackhawks, and that will only be magnified in the finals.

3) Of course special teams will play a HUGE role in who wins. The fact these two teams are dominant when killing penalties isn't all that surprising, given that they were ranked third and fourth during the regular season. Needless to say, the team that is able to crack the penalty-killing armor in this series is going to have a significant advantage.  The Blackhawks scored just one power-play goal in five games against Los Angeles, while the Bruins somehow managed their sweep of the Penguins without scoring a power-play goal.  Since this is a series that's almost certainly going to be won at even strength, the importance of both teams' depth will be crucial.  Players like Bryan Bickel for the hawks and Torey Krug for the B's exemplify players who have emerged this spring.  Bickell has been a force physically, and his eight goals are tied for the team lead and have him tied for second in the postseason. Two of those goals have been game winners.

4) So who wins you ask? This might be the most difficult series to predict of the playoffs. Both teams boast similar attributes, including patience and experience, and have great depth. In the end, you have to give a slight edge to the Bruins in physicality, and that might be enough to wear down the Blackhawks' defense enough for the series victory.  However we believe the Hawks do posses enough of an edge in the overall talent that they should be able to edge the Brins out in 4 of 7 but there for sure will be a couple of crucial OT games in here along the way that could tilt that either way. For sure will be an entertaining/close playoff series
Black Hawks in 7

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