When this year’s Stanley Cup final started I was more excited about it than I had ever remembered being. Not only was it an original six match up, but you have the Chicago Blackhawks who dominated the regular season and the Boston Bruins who are trying to bring Lord Stanley to a town marked by tragedy. Game 1 of the series did not disappoint. For most of the game the teams were evenly matched. It was a seesaw possession game with the teams trading moments of sustained pressure in the offensive zone the entire game. The goalies were phenomenal. A lot of the saves had me yelling at my tv “how on earth did he save that?!?” The intensity of the game was everything I had expected of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. The pace of the game and the multiple scrums after the plays were awesome.
The intensity didn’t let up, even through the first overtime period. Chicago came out feeding on the energy of the crowd and the momentum of overcoming a two-goal deficit so I expected a quick end to the game. Boston didn’t give up though. No one really dominated the first OT. As the game went on Boston was getting more chances than Chicago. I really thought Boston was going to win and they might have if Horton hadn’t gotten injured late in the first OT. The Horton, Krejci, Lucic line was really the thorn in Chicago’s side all game long. Horton’s injury took the productivity away from that line. This allowed Chicago to get more chances and eventually they were able to get a deflection past Rask to win.
After the excitement of Game 1, Game 2 was a disappointment. It lacked the intensity that Game 1. Perhaps this had to do with fatigue from Game 1 but the teams had 2 days off and didn’t have to travel. Both coaches gave their teams ample time to rest between games, so I don’t think that was the issue. Chicago dominated the 1st period, but began to slow down in the 2nd and continued to play at half speed throughout the rest of the game. Boston on the other hand came alive with about 5 minutes to go in the 1st and continued to get better as the game went on. As a Blackhawks fan, I had been praying that when Boston tied up the game it would light a fire under the Hawks and they would start playing the game again. Chicago never got back to the level of play that they had in the 1st and Boston dominated overtime and deserved to win the game.
Now that the series is tied, it changes the dynamic of the series. I expected the crowd to play into the Blackhawks favor and they would go into Boston up 2-0. It is going to be for Chicago difficult to win one in the Garden, and they could easily be headed back into United Center down 3-1. In order for Chicago to win the Cup, they have to shut down the Horton, Krejci, Lucic line. That line killed them in the first two games of this series. They also need Kane and Toews to get back on the scoreboard. For Boston to win the Cup, they just need to keep up the intensity, play their physical game, and generate more offensive chances. They cannot afford to let Chicago dominate them again.