Before we get into the Stanley Cup Final, I’d like to give a big thumbs down to the NHL. The last few seasons I had look forward to seeing the NHL awards in Las Vegas instead, because of the lockout, it was held before the Stanley Cup Final. Oy vey (No I’m not Jewish). This is because of the lockout and the need to smush the draft, playoffs, etc. all together. But in reality the awards show is only one day and the Finals is only starting about a week or so later than normal. I’m pretty sure they could have tried really hard and made it work.
Also a big LOL moment to Ray Shero winning the GM of the year award. You have GOT to be kidding me. Basically I’m trying to say he did not deserve it at all. I would have given it to Bob Murray, of the Anaheim Ducks, who is more deserving. I’ll discuss this more in depth in the “NHL Season Recap” column I’ll be posting in a few weeks.
Anyway this Stanley Cup Finals has been great so far and very evenly matched. Despite that it should really be the Bruins up 3-0 and they should wrap it up in 5 games. In which case is it really close at all? I think it’s possible to lose a series 4-0 and have it actually be closer than a 4-3 series and that’s what we are looking at here. But when you get two overtime games to start the series, a triple overtime in Game 1 and a Game 3 that was evenly contested to the end, you can’t really ask for much more.
1 Chicago Blackhawks vs. 4 Boston Bruins
What we learned: These are very evenly matched teams who have played some overtime classics. I think Game 2 was one of the best games I have ever seen.
Things I Like: Corey Crawford and Tuukka Rask, as expected, have played phenomenally Just one of the reasons for the lower scoring games. Tyler Seguin and Jaromir Jagr have significantly improved their level of play in this round. Jagr improved against the Penguins but he has taken it up another notch in this series. You’d never know he was over 40. Seguin was largely invisible during this playoff run so far but he has assisted in every game so far this series and contributed in a lot of other ways not noticeable on a stat sheet. Patrice Bergeron, Daniel Paille, Chris Kelly and Milan Lucic have all been offensive heroes as well. Defensively the Bruins are at their smothering best still. Teams usually have a hard time recovering after losing a triple overtime game but the Bruins bounced back in Game 2 even though you could tell they had a hangover from it, being outshot 19-4 in the Game 2 1st period. The Bruins powerplay is also converting, for once.
Things I Don’t: The Bruins gave away the 1st game. They had the better scoring opportunities in the 1st game but the biggest blunder goes to rookie Torey Krug. He cleared the puck up the middle, which you of course never do, which led to the 2nd Blackhawks goal and gave them some life. The the Blackhawks got the tying goal off a cheap deflection of a Bruin defender’s skate. The Blackhawks offensive has really sputtered downward. After getting 4 goals in Game 1, largely due to fortunate bounces and Bruins miscues, the Blackhawks have only one goal in two games. They only have that one goal because of them dominating in the 1st period of Game 2 after that aforementioned triple overtime win in Game 1. Meaning if they didn’t win Game 1 they probably would have been shut out twice in a row. Patrick Kane scored that goal but he’s been pretty off with his shot. Jonathan Toews continues his playoff struggles with no points and playing like he isn’t even there. Not good when you are the captain of the team. While the Blackhawks won more faceoffs in Game 1, each game thereafter the Bruins have increased their faceoff winning percentage to total domination in Game 3. Not only aren’t the Blackhawks scoring on the powerplay, in the beginning of the series they passed the puck around like it was a hot potato when they had the man advantage. It’s tough to score when you can’t pass accurately.
Likely Winner: Bruins, I really don’t see any way the Blackhawks can turn it around. The Bruins aren’t that much better than the Blackhawks but they are the better team.
2 – For 8 on the powerplay by the Bruins
0 – For 10 on the Blackhawks powerplay
15 – Shot advantage by the Blackhawks in the 1st period of Game 2
9 – Shot advantage by the Bruins the rest of the way
29 – Blocked shot advantage by the Bruins through three games
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
June 12, 1985 Pittsburgh’s Mario Lemieux won the Calder Trophy, as the NHL’s top rookie.
June 13, 1974 Hockey Hall of Fame announced it’s newest members: Tommy Ivan (general manager of Chicago Black Hawks), Dickie Moore, Art Coulter, Billy Burch, Tomas Dunderdale, Charles Hay and former NHL referee-in-chief Carl Voss.
June 14, 1994 New York Rangers beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 in Game 7 of the Finals in New York, to win their first Stanley Cup since 1940. Defenseman Brian Leetch scored the first goal of the game, and was named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy.
June 15, 2000 Denis Savard, Joe Mullen, Walter Bush (President of USA Hockey), and L.A. Kings announcer Bob Miller were selected as the newest members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
June 16, 1975 Boston defenseman Bobby Orr was named to the NHL’s first All-Star team for the eighth straight year.
June 17, 1995 Scotty Bowman became the first coach in NHL history to appear in the Stanley Cup Finals with four teams, when the Red Wings lost to New Jersey in Game 1 of the Finals. Bowman had previously appeared with St. Louis, Montreal, and Pittsburgh.