Boston Bruins vs. Chicago Blackhawks
The Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks face off in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks are -144 favorites over the Bruins with an over/under goal total set at 5.
This might be one of the most exciting Stanley Cup Finals that we’ve seen in a long time when you look at the way that both of these clubs are currently playing. Both teams faced adversity in the postseason, with Boston having rallied from a 4-1 third period deficit in Game 7 to the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Blackhawks saving their season in the third period of Game 6 against the Detroit Red Wings. Each team has been on fire since that point of their respective post seasons. Boston has gone a combined 8-1 the last two rounds since their epic rally over the Leafs and the Blackhawks are 5-1 since their comeback against Detroit. Chicago really played some impressive hockey against the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Finals, beating them at their own game up and down the ice. Corey Crawford outperformed Jonathan Quick for much of the series and the depth of the Blackhawks forwards really gave the Kings a hard time. Boston has gotten progressively better as the post season has gone on and you need to look no further than the addition of Torey Krug on the blueline. Krug wasn’t even supposed to be in the Bruins lineup until injuries to three of their defenseman forced him into their series with the New York Rangers in the second round. He’s emerged as a huge presence on the blue line, scoring four goals and adding two assists in his short time on the ice in the playoffs. His skating ability has given Boston a different dimension from their back end that they haven’t had for much of the year and it’s allowed them to really capitalize in transition. Boston killed the Penguins all series long with big transition goals and with the way Tuukka Rask is playing in goal right now for them they’re going to be very tough to beat. This is about as even of a series as you could expect to have heading into the finals and both of these teams play very similar styles. We’re going to two teams that have extreme forward depth and it might come down to who gets more offensive production from their bottom six forwards in this series. Typically that’s not something you look at but with the quality of players both teams have all over the ice there are going to be threats to score out there at any given time. Chicago will look for Bryan Bickell to continue his dominant post season but it’s going to need Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews to step up. Both players have had mediocre post seasons but Kane’s hat trick in Game 5 might be just what the doctor ordered for Chicago’s offense.
Both these teams have playoff experience and have won it all before. Neither will get too down if things aren’t going their way and this has all the makings of a long series. Chicago is the favorite here but I love the way that Boston has been playing and love the way Rask has looked in goal.
Boston Bruins +134 Chicago Blackhawks