Bruins, Blackhawks ready to meet expectations of close Stanley Cup final | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaBruins, Blackhawks ready to meet expectations of close Stanley Cup final

Posted: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 | 12:48 PM

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Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman, left, and head coach Joel Quenneville talk to reporters prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final.
(Jeff Haynes/Reuters) Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman, left, and head coach Joel Quenneville talk to reporters prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final. (Jeff Haynes/Reuters)

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Three storylines for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final featuring the Boston Bruins at Chicago Blackhawks on Hockey Night in Canada (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7:30 p.m. ET).

CHICAGO -- Three storylines for series opener of the Stanley Cup final between the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks on Hockey Night in Canada on Wednesday (CBC,  CBCSports.ca, 7:30 p.m. ET). Game 2 is back at the United Center on Saturday.

1. Which team has the edge?

Las Vegas oddsmakers have made Chicago a slight favourite. But if you ask various NHL broadcast analysts and print reporters, they appear to be split down the middle.

It is interesting that, in the previous round, Chicago beat a team in the Los Angeles Kings in five games that is similar in playing style to the Bruins. Boston eliminated the Pittsburgh Penguins in a sweep, a team similar in skill to the Blackhawks.

Here are a few other matters to consider from the road to get to the Stanley Cup final:

  • Both teams thrive on the transition game.
  • Both teams are hot. Boston has won nine of their last 10 games; Chicago has won seven of eight.
  • The Blackhawks have the best home record at 9-1; the Bruins have the best road record at 5-2, including an impressive 3-0 win in Pittsburgh to open the Eastern Conference final.
  • Home teams have gone 11-3 in the 14 previous series openers.
  • In total, home teams have a 56-24 record this post-season, just one victory shy of the record of 57 set in 1991.
  • For the first time since the Stanley Cup playoff format went to four rounds of best-of-seven in 1987, every one of the previous 14 series have had at least one game extend to overtime.
  • In the last four post-seasons, the Bruins (44) and Blackhawks (42) sit 1-2 in playoff victories.

2. How will Blackhawks avoid matchups against Bruins captain Zdeno Chara?

Avoiding Zdeno Chara is difficult because he plays so much. He has averaged 29 minutes, 21 seconds of ice time in this playoff run. It appears the Blackhawks will start the series with a more balanced attack by splitting up Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

One Chicago forward who should be familiar with the 36-year-old Chara is fellow Slovakian national team member Marian Hossa, who is two years younger and suits up for his fourth Stanley Cup final in six years. Hossa and Chara have played together internationally for a long time and they live in the same neighbourhood back home in the off-season.

"He's the biggest guy on the ice," said Hossa, who gives away eight inches and 45 pounds to the 6-foot-9, 255-pound Chara.

"His stick is so big. If you don't move your feet, he's going to hurt you, he's going to come close to you and pin you on the boards.

"You have to make sure you're moving your feet, stop and start. It's not easy.

"It's going to be really interesting. Obviously, we are good friends.

"He's my neighbour. He lives right across the street.

"But in the next two weeks, that has to go on the side and we just have to play our roles. I'm going to play my game, he's going to play his game. I'm sure, right after, we'll be friends again."

3. Will either team make any lineup adjustments for Game 1?

Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville will make an alteration to his fourth line. Brandon Bollig, 26, has skated in Viktor Stalberg's spot alongside centre Marcus Kruger and left wing Michael Frolik.

The 6-foot-2, 223-pound Bollig, a St. Lawrence University product, hasn't played since he suited up for three of the five games in the first round against Minnesota Wild. He adds toughness and a physical presence to the Blackhawks, which the Bruins have plenty of on their fourth line with Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille.

Projected lineup for Chicago

Forwards

Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Bryan Bickell - Michal Handzus - Patrick Kane

Brandon Saad - David Bolland - Andrew Shaw

Michael Frolik - Marcus Kruger - Brandon Bollig

Defence

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Johnny Oduya - Nicklas Hjalmarsson

Nick Leddy - Michal Rozsival

Goaltender

Corey Crawford

Projected lineup for Boston

Forwards

Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Nathan Horton

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Jaromir Jagr

Kaspars Daugavins -- Rich Peverley - Tyler Seguin

Daniel Paille - Chris Kelly - Shawn Thornton

Defence

Zdeno Chara - Dennis Seidenberg

Andrew Ference - Johnny Boychuk

Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid

Goaltender

Tuukka Rask

Follow Tim Wharnsby on Twitter @WharnsbyCBC

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