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:
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
Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa
Bryan Bickell - Michal Handzus - Patrick Kane
Brandon Saad - David Bolland - Andrew Shaw
Michael Frolik - Marcus Kruger - Brandon Bollig
Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Johnny Oduya - Nicklas Hjalmarsson
Nick Leddy - Michal Rozsival
Projected lineup for Boston
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Jaromir Jagr
Kaspars Daugavins -- Rich Peverley - Tyler Seguin
Daniel Paille - Chris Kelly - Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara - Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference - Johnny Boychuk
Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid
Follow Tim Wharnsby on Twitter @WharnsbyCBC
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