The 2013 NHL playoffs have been some of the most interesting and intense hockey of this year’s entire schedule, and with the Stanley Cup finals kicking off Wednesday, June 12, the excitement is through the roof.
The Stanley Cup is awarded to the NHL champions, and the series between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins in the finals should be one of the most physical and brutal battles we see all postseason.
Not only are these the two best defensive teams in the league—each also poses a bevy of players that can find their offensive rhythm on any night—but the fact that each team also realizes this is the end of the line will turn this series into an all-out war.
If you are a hardcore hockey fan or if you just like the sport casually, this is a championship series that all sports fans will want to invest time watching. Do not miss all this wild NHL playoff action.
Full 2013 Stanley Cup Finals Schedule
|Game||Date||Time||Home Team||Away Team||Watch|
|1||June 12||8 p.m. ET||Chicago Blackhawks||Boston Bruins||NBC|
|2||June 15||8 p.m. ET||Chicago Blackhawks||Boston Bruins||NBC|
|3||June 17||8 p.m. ET||Boston Bruins||Chicago Blackhawks||NBC|
|4||June 19 ||8 p.m. ET||Boston Bruins||Chicago Blackhawks||NBC|
|5*||June 22 ||8 p.m. ET||Chicago Blackhawks||Boston Bruins||NBC|
|6*||June 24 ||8 p.m. ET||Boston Bruins||Chicago Blackhawks||NBC|
|7*||June 26 ||8 p.m. ET||Chicago Blackhawks||Boston Bruins||NBC|
*If necessary. For full schedule, check out NHL.com.
Lights Out on the Power Play
Both the Bruins and the Blackhawks are incredibly gifted on the penalty kill, and if either team thinks the power play will be a real advantage, they couldn’t be farther from the truth in the Stanley Cup Finals.
With Chicago boasting a league-leading 94.8 penalty killing percentage this postseason, Boston will have a better chance getting the puck in the net going five-on-five. The Blackhawks' power-play attempts will be just as futile, as the Bruins have an 86.5 penalty killing percentage.
As much as both Boston and Chicago have dangerous power-play units that have the firepower to score on the advantage, the elite play of both goalies—Bruins’ Tuukka Rask and Blackhawks’ Corey Crawford—and the defense in front of them will stifle both teams’ chances of getting a goal.
The offense in this series will come off mistakes and timely even-strength scoring.
Prediction: One power-play goal from each team in this series.
Defense, Defense, Defense
There is a large contingent of fans that loves the high-scoring, fast-tempo style of hockey that offensive-minded teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins or San Jose Sharks run, but this series will be far from an offensive battle.
Hockey fans should be happy to see three combined goals scored per game in this series.
Not only does each team boast a top-flight goaltender and a penalty-killing unit that is ranked amongst the best in the NHL, these franchises are predicated on a defense-first mindset and will be looking to shut down their opponents in the championship series.
With neither team wanting to make a mistake, this series will be fundamental hockey at its finest.
Boston has received an incredible amount of praise for its domination of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals—they swept the top seed and didn’t allow a single point to the team’s top stars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jarome Iginla and Kris Letang—and will now try to do the same to Chicago.
The Blackhawks are just as talented on defense, boasting depth on the blue line that few teams can claim. Led by top-tier defender Duncan Keith, Chicago has adapted a blue-collar approach that has every player on the team committed to forechecking and dedicated to protecting the puck.
With such an emphasis on defense, solid goaltending and penalty killing, each game of this series will be a hard-fought battle. The team that can find the most cracks in the other team’s defensive game plan will be the eventual winner.
Prediction: This low-scoring series will feature a combined goals-per-game average of just over three.
Series Prediction: Boston 4, Chicago 3