A lot of things are on my mind before tonight's Game One of the Stanley Cup Final, so I'll just go point to point and you can sort out my insane ramblings.
- I don't like the fact that Brandon Bollig is in the lineup over Viktor Stalberg. I know Stalberg hasn't exactly set the world on fire in these playoffs (three assists in 15 games), but why is Joel Quenneville adjusting to the Bruins? The Bruins should be adjusting to the Blackhawks. The Hawks are the better team. Instead of the Hawks trying to "beef up" for the big, bad Bruins...Boston should be trying to "speed up" to catch the Hawks. Chicago's biggest advantage is their speed. Why then bench their fastest skater? It doesn't make sense to me, but I've learned the consequences of questioning Quenneville, who's (eventually) pushed every correct button this season.
- One huge key, and thanks to 670 the Score's Adam Hoge for the head's up on this stat, will be stopping the Bruins' top line. David Krejci (21) , Nathan Horton (17) , and Milan Lucic (13) have combined for 51 points in the B's 16 playoff games.
The Hawks have done an excellent job of shutting down their playoff opponents' top lines so far.
In the five game series against the Wild, the Hawks held the Minnesota's top line of Zach Parish, Mikko Koivu, and Charlie Coyle to 3 points and a minus 17 rating.
Against the Red Wings, the top (often interchangeable) combo of Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen and Justin Abdelkader combined for nine points and a minus two rating in seven games.
Los Angeles? Their ever changing combination of Justin Williams, Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, Jarret Stoll and Mike Richards combined for seven points and a minus nine in five playoff games. Four of those seven points came from Mike Richards and Anze Kopitar in Game Five. It wasn't enough.
I don't see a huge upgrade in talent from those teams to Boston. If the Hawks defensive system continues to work as it has, this series is over.
- The Blackhawks' role players must continue to contribute. With Zdeno Chara almost inevitably on "Toews line duty", the Bryan Bickell / Andrew Shaw types will have to put the puck in the net. Look for Boston to skate Chara with Dennis Seidenberg at home, and split them up on the road. Bruins coach Claude Julien likes to have at least one of those two on the ice when he doesn't have the luxury of the last change.
- I guarantee that you will hate Brad Marchand by the middle of the 3rd period tonight. Marchand is a gritty little gnat bastard of a player, but he can also score (36 pts in the regular season). Think of the love child of Andrew Shaw and former Hawk Steve Sullivan. Add 20% more annoyance, and that's Brad Marchand.
- Tonight's game will tell you so much about this series. It's hard to analyze because we haven't seen a single West team face a single East team all season. It's hard to gauge level of competition. Most believe the Western Conference is stronger. I guess we'll find out shortly after 7pm tonight.
As soon as Game One ends, I'll be on 670 AM the Score with Wayne Randazzo breaking down the action. Tune in and join the conversation, win or lose. If you'd like to call, the number is 312-644-6767. Follow me on Twitter @jayzawaski670.
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Filed under: Blackhawks, Boston Bruins, Brandon Bollig, brent seabrook, bryan bickell, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Sports, Dan Carcillo, daniel carcillo, danny mac show, duncan keith, goaltending, hockey, jay zawaski, joel quenneville, LA Kings, marian hossa, michael frolik, Michael Handzus, michal rozsival, minnesota wild, NHL, nhl playoffs, Patrick Kane, patrick sharp, red wings, stanley cup, Stanley Cup Champions, stanley cup finals, wscr
Tags: Stanley Cup Final