Both Corey Crawford and Tuukka Rask were with their respective organizations during the last Cup victory. Crawford with the Chicago Blackhawks‘ American Hockey League Rockford IceHogs and Rask on the Boston Bruins‘ bench behind Tim Thomas. Both net-minders have been vital to their teams success and it has shown on the scorer’s sheet. Crawford leads the league with a 1.74 GAA and a .935 save percentage. Dominate blue line play should help either goalie in leading their team to a Cup win.
2. Special Teams
The Blackhawks boast the NHL’s No. 1 penalty kill and should not face any problems if they are sent to the box. Boston went 0-for-15 in the conference finals on the man advantage and struggled in round one against the Toronto Maple Leafs converting on three of their 20 attempts. The Hawks other special team front as not been as productive with only a 13.7 conversion rate on the power play. Whichever special team breaks in this series could cause a momentum swing that could turn a game or the series.
3. The Four Horsemen
The Hawks’ four horsemen: Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane, Bryan Bickell have been the main offensive contributors during the 2013 campaign. Each player is in the top ten in the league’s goal scorer’s table. Sharp and Bickell are tied for second with eight goals a piece while Kane and Hossa have six and seven to their names. Any drop in production from these four would be a series changer for the Hawks.
4. Jonathan Toews
The Hawks’ star players have been anything but consistent and it all starts with the captain, Jonathan Toews. He recorded 48 points in 47 games during the regular season and has only found the back of the net once during the playoffs. This year’s run has been starkly different for Toews compared to his 2010 Conn Smythe Trophy performance when he netted seven goals and 29 points. While he has recorded eight assist during the 2013 run seeing him on put one between the pipes could ignite the Hawks squad. This task is easier said than done for the Hawks’ captain as the Bruins shut down Pittsburgh Penguins‘ stars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and New York Rangers star Rick Nash earlier in the this year’s run.
Having won the President’s Trophy the Hawks have earned home-ice advantage during the Cup Finals. For any team this is a good thing but for the Hawks it could be the edge they need to win it all. They have an impressive 9-1 record at the United Center during this year’s playoffs and a 3-4 record on the road. The Bruins are 5-1 on the road and recorded a 9 to 1 margin in the first two games in Pittsburgh during the Eastern Conference Finals. With a 4-0 record in elimination games Hawks fans could see their favorite team close out the series in Game 5 or 7 at the Madhouse.
Tags: 2013 NHL Playoffs 2013 Stanley Cup Finals Boston Bruins Bryan Bickell Chicago Blackhawks Corey Crawford Evgeni Malkin Jonathan Toews Marian Hossa New York Rangers Patrick Kane Patrick Sharp Pittsburgh Penguins Rick Nash Rockford IceHogs Tim Thomas Tuuka Rask United Center