Sunday, June 16, 2013

Stanley Cup Finals: Fourteen Down, Two To Go

Apparently, there is some sort of historic NBA Finals match-up taking place right before our very eyes. The hockey fans will just have to take that for what it is worth.

With the kind of hockey that is being played in the Stanley Cup Finals through the first few games, why would anyone watch anything else? Sure, whenever hockey is not on, basketball was being played and vice versa. The first two games between Boston and Chicago should have people wanting to watch highlights even on the off days. That is how good the series has been thus far.

Anyway, the Bruins and Blackhawks resumed play on Monday night for game three. This time around, the Bruins tasted home ice advantage. 

B's head coach Claude Julien discovered a new line during game three on Saturday. As the game went on, Chris Kelly was paired with Tyler Seguin and Daniel Paille. That line figured in both of the goals scored in that game. Look for that line to remain intact as the series progresses.   

Tuukka Rask has played outstanding this postseason and he looked to keep that going on Monday night. 

Prior to game three, it was announced that Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa was scratched from the lineup after injuring himself during warm-ups. It was later declared an upper-body injury. He was back in the lineup for Chicago in game four.

Also prior to the game, Zdeno Chara collided with Milan Lucic during the pre-game skate. Chara had to receive stitches above his eye, but he returned to the ice to record a team-high in ice time with almost 26 minutes. 

During Monday's game, the Bruins were all over Hawks netminder Corey Crawford. They had several early chances, but they could not capitalize right away. That all changed in the second period when the B's netted two goals. Paille put home the first one and Patrice Bergeron capitalized on the power play to give the B's a two-goal lead. 

That is how the game finished. The game also finished with a scrum involving Chara and Bryan Bickell, not to mention Brad Marchand and Andrew Shaw finally dropping the gloves, even though nothing really got going there. 

Now it is starting to feel like the Stanley Cup Finals. 

The Blackhawks did not look sharp in game three. The constant jumbling of the lines and inserting a youngster with some speed did not help at all. 

The Bruins took a 2-1 series lead heading into game four on Wednesday night. They also took with them a streak of 26 consecutive penalties killed off. 

That streak ended in game four, but we witnessed the best game of the series thus far. In regulation, five goals were recorded for each side and 21 different players recorded at least one point. Bergeron was the only skater who had two goals. For Chicago, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane finally found their scoring touch again.

The thing that stood out was the fact that the Blackhawks worked extremely hard to get their goals on Rask while the B's were beating Crawford with relative ease. Glove side will be his downfall. 

In the end, it was Brent Seabrook who netted the game-winning goal to give the Hawks the 6-5 win and tie the series at two games each.

Jaromir Jagr skated in his 200th career playoff game on Wednesday. He is only the 19th player in history to accomplish that feat. He continues to rack up assists, but he is beyond the point of knocking on the door for scoring a goal. It will happen at any point at this rate.

Game five will be on Saturday night back in Chicago. 

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