The Boston Bruins will embark on their toughest task of the 2013 season as they will travel to Chicago for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals that begins Wednesday.
Many believe these two teams are similar in stature. Both coaches roll four lines, have tremendous goaltending and their players do not care who they are going up against. They will play rough, tough and physical.
But, the real story line here will be how will the Bruins power-play match up against the Blackhawks penalty kill?
The Blackhawks penalty kill has been more than impressive. They have only allowed three goals on 58 power-play chances for opposing teams throughout these playoffs. That is a 94.8%. It is nearly perfect.
The B’s on the other hand have only converted 15.6% of their power-plays in the post-season. That must change if the B’s want to take advantage of their opportunities.
Blackhawks players such as Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews much be exposed while the likes of David Krejci, Jaromir Jagr, Zdeno Chara, Brad Marchand must find a way to bury a few goals on the man-advantage.
Head Coach Claude Julien spoke about what makes the Blackhawks so effective on the penalty kill after practice Monday.
Although the Blackhawks penalty-kill has been terrific, Julien’s penalty-kill has been great as well and he talked on how the team will kill penalties without their warrior Gregory Campbell.
“It just means some other guys have to step in and do the job,” Julien said. “Campbell is an elite penalty killer for us. Like anything else, when you lose a player like that it certainly hurts your team, but at the same time, there’s also guys that come up and step up and do a great job just like our young D’s did when our three D’s were hurt. We didn’t miss a beat because they did the job and we expect people to do the same thing in Gregory’s absence.”
Not only did Julien preach that the power-play must be better, but he talked about how to limit the Blackhawk’s attack and speed in the neutral zone.
“Our forecheck has to be our forecheck,” Julien said. “It’s got to be efficient in order to minimize that and that means putting pucks in the right places. If you don’t, they’ll have some easy breakouts. They excel at that area. They have a lot of D’s back there that can carry the puck and skate well, so there’s no doubt that that’s going to be a key. Some of our success will be how good we are in those areas.”
Most times, games are won and lost on the special teams. The B’s must find ways to make Corey Crawford uncomfortable not only on the power-play, but for an entire 60 minutes.
It will be very fun to watch the B’s on their much improved power-play versus the Blackhawks’ shutdown penalty-kill.
No one said it would be easy, but as we all know-it is never easy with the Black and Gold.