Just prior to the start of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final last Wednesday I gave you my five keys to a Bruins series victory and their second Stanley Cup in three years. With three games officially in the books and the Bruins holding a 2-1 lead in the series, the Bruins have perfectly executed my five keys.
It’s certainly been a strange series thus far as the Bruins could easily be leading the series 3-0, or down 2-1 just as easily.
Let’s go ahead and take a look at what the Bruins have done to put themselves in a great position heading into Game 4 Wednesday evening.
Rask needs to win the goaltending battle
The goalie duel between Tuukka Rask and Corey Crawford has certainly lived up to the hype, but so far through three games Rask has outplayed Crawford. In the three entertaining games the two teams have skated in thus far in the Stanley Cup Final Crawford has allowed seven goals on 117 shots while Rask has allowed five goals on 125 shots. Rask has one shutout under his belt. Both goalies have come up with some key saves throughout the series, but Rask has the slight edge over Crawford, so far.
Slow down Toews and Kane
If you’re a Blackhawks fan you probably should go find Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane and tell the dynamic duo the Stanley Cup Final as started. The two talented forwards have been held to just one point—an assist by Kane— in three games while combing for a minus-1. Toews has struggled a bit worse than Kane has as the Hawks’ Captain has gone without a goal in his last ten games. In hopes of getting the two going, it appears Hawk’s head coach Joel Quenneville will put the two together on a line; the Bruins will look to continue to win the battle against Toews and Kane.
Win the special teams battle
Heading into the Stanley Cup Final against the Bruins, the Blackhawks had the playoff’s best penalty kill percentage, but thanks to two power play goals in three games the Blackhawks can no longer claim that title. On the other side of the special team’s coin the Bruins have been perfect as they have killed off all 11 Blackhawks power plays. Check off winning the special teams battle as another thing the Bruins have done right.
Top line needs to remain red-hot
They haven’t been red-hot, but they haven’t been ice-cold. The Bruins top line has just two goals in three games with both of those coming off the stick of Milan Lucic in Game 1, but the Bruins number one line has played pretty well in the three games. The chances have been there for all three forwards, but they just haven’t finished as much as they would like. Look for the top line to take over Game 4 tonight in Boston.
Find an answer for Bryan Bickell
Have you heard much of Bryan Bickell’s name at all this series. No you have not, and that’s a good thing for the Bruins. Bickell entered the Stanley Cup Final with eight goals and five assists including two game-winning-goals, but has been a complete no-show in the three games against the Bruins. The big bruising forward has been held without a point in the series and has just five shots on goal. If morning skate is any indication Bickell will be skating alongside Kane and Toews which could be the spark he needs to get going again. Look for this trio to see a lot of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg in Game 4.
If the Bruins can continue to execute these five keys for two more games, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be able to bring Lord Stanley’s Cup back to Boston.