If there is anything at all that can be said with 100% certainty about this series between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins is that it has been absolutely anything but boring. After an exciting goal from Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook just over the 10 minute mark in overtime, this series is headed back to the Madhouse on Madison for Game 5 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Here is a look into what we can expect from the showdown in Chicago.
Game 4 was a high octane, high scoring game. You can expect to see the same intensity in Game 5.
Both teams are going to want to come out onto the ice and immediately put pressure on the opposing defense. You can expect to both sides putting up shots, and trying to create scoring chances for themselves.
Last game, the Hawks were able to pull ahead offensively, outshooting the Bruins 47-33. They put the pressure on from the minute the puck dropped, and made sure that they were in the right place at the right time, and they peppered Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask with shots. This is the only method I have seen this series that has been successful in repeatedly beating the Finnish goaltender.
If the Bruins want to pull ahead of the Hawks, especially while they are in Chicago, they are going to have to put together a defensive strategy that will contain the line of Hawks captain Jonathan Toews, LW Patrick Sharp, and RW Patrick Kane. This is by far the strongest combination that the Hawks have in their arsenal.
In game 4, Toews was able to break his scoring slump, by netting himself a goal in the second period off of a redirection from defenseman Michal Rozsival.
Even with the Bruins’ best defensive pair, defensemen Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, on the ice together, they still were not able to prevent Hawks center Marcus Kruger from finding the net. In fact, The Bruins captain was on the ice for five of the Hawks goals, finding himself on the business end of a minus-3 rating coming out of Game 4.
Have the Hawks finally found a way to neutralize the 6’9 Boston defenseman?
He’s a big guy, and that’s one of the main goals you want to do is getting him to turn and move his feet and try to sustain that pressure. He’s a great defenseman, but to keep that pressure and have the success that we did, it’s always a positive thing.” LW Brandon Saad said in the press conference one day after Game 4.
Hawks captain Jonathan Toews have very similar things do say about Chara.
He does a lot of good things. He uses his size and his reach to his advantage. I think maybe sometimes in the first couple of games we were giving him a little too much respect by trying to keep the puck away from him.” Toews said. “He’s not a guy that we should be afraid of. We should go at him, protect the puck from him, and try to make plays around him and through him. We use our speed.”
Toews continued to recount the goal from Kruger, and the way RW Michael Frolik continued to move his feet as a way for them to expose the big man, and getting the puck to Kruger for the goal.
In case you missed it, or if you just want to see it again, you can watch the Kruger goal below. Video courtesy of NHL.com
While it may not seem like it due to the high scores on both sides, both goaltenders put up an excellent performance in game. Despite ultimately letting in 6 goals, Rask was able to fend off 41 of the 47 shots that the Hawks brought against him.
On the other side of the ice, Corey Crawford may not have had to defend himself against the same barrage of shots that Rask was forced to face, he was there for the Hawks when they needed him the most, in overtime. The only downside is that the Bruins offense was able to exploit a weakness in Crawford’s glove side. This is something that the Hawks will have to address going into Game 5 if they want to keep the puck out of the net.
Three of the four games that have been played so far this series have gone to at least one overtime period. I would not be shocked if Game 5 is no different.
With the series tied up at 2 games apiece, this series is most certainly anyone’s for the taking. It is going to boil down to blood, sweat, and sheer determination to prove whose desire to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup is greater.
Expect to see a hard hitting defense, high octane skating, and a barrage of shots on goal in the matchup in the Madhouse known as Game 5.
Who do you think will come out on top tonight in Chicago? Do the Hawks have the momentum on their side coming off of their OT win onto home ice, or are the Bruins ready to put a halt to the Hawks’ stride? Sound off in the comments below and let us know.