After their game one marathon win, the Blackhawks came out firing in game two, yet Tuuka Rask outlasted Corey Crawford for his own overtime victory. Then in game three, the Bruins seized momentum and executed in the offensive, putting them up two to one. Some were already giving the B’s the series; the Chicago stars, which rose from the dead in game four, heard those people.
With goals from Toews, Sharp, Kane, and Seabrook accompanied by nifty finishes from Handzus and Krugger, one would think they would have ran away with the game. And they should have.
If not for lackluster play by Corey Crawford, the game would have been a blowout. All five Bruins goals were scored glove side on the Canadian net minder while he only faced 33 shots total. A save percentage of .848 won’t win many games in the NHL, especially in the Stanley Cup. Luckily, his forwards were there to bail him out.
Photo Credit: Associated Press
If the goalies had swapped teams for the game, the score would be extremely lopsided. While Crawford struggled to see the puck all night, Rask gave the Bruins a chance to win even though his cage was under siege for the full game. Line after line they peppered Rask, sending 47 shots his way on the evening.
Nearly every goal scored would have taken a miraculous effort to stop. Rask even managed to stop Kruger’s first attempt as he was left all alone in the slot. Thanks to a slow back check, Kruger collected his own rebound to cash it in. For letting in six goals, it would have been difficult for the Bruin goalie to play better.
If the onslaught of pressure carries over for the Blackhawks, the series might as well wrap up now. Fore-checking and disruption define the Bruins play and it was difficult to sustain that style on Wednesday night. Crawford can even continue to play mediocre goaltending with an absent glove hand if the ‘Hawks put up six goals again.
The way the Bruins will have to regain momentum is at the faceoff dot. In the game four loss the Bruins nearly split the faceoff battle, winning just one more faceoff than the Blackhawks. In games two and three combined, which Boston both won, they won 30 more faceoffs than Chicago. The best way to beat a team that thrives on puck possession is simple: don’t let them have the puck.
Patrice Bergeron is Claude Julien’s guy when it comes to a big time draw. Over the playoffs, he’s won just over 62 percent of his battles at the dot. Even more impressive is his 71 percent success rate in the two Boston victories. Again, the more possession the Bruins can grab, the less momentum the Blackhawks can muster up.
Before game four I thought a split was well in reach of Chicago. And after game four, I don’t think the Bruins are too far away from battling back. However, with two out of three games at home for Chicago, it’s hard to see them losing the three game series that remains to decide the 2013 Stanley Cup Champions.
The NBA got a seven game series, so why not a hockey complement? I see the ‘Hawks in seven, riding the hot pairing of Toews and Kane.