Stanley Cup Final 2013: Biggest Questions Heading into Game 2

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Stanley Cup Final 2013: Biggest Questions Heading into Game 2
Harry How/Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins both face questions heading into a crucial Game 2 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final at United Center.

After a marathon of a game in the series opener, both teams certainly have rest and recovery in mind after playing just over 52 minutes of extra hockey before Andrew Shaw's game-winning goal gave the Blackhawks the 4-3 victory. 

As both teams gear up for a decisive Game 2, let's take a look at the biggest question marks each team will face.

 

How Serious is Nathan Horton's Injury?

The Bruins were dealt a major blow late in the first overtime of Game 1 when star forward Nathan Horton went down with an apparent upper-body injury, per Chris Peters of CBS Sports, and left the game.

The 28-year-old has a knack for producing in clutch moments, so the Bruins definitely missed Horton as they knocked on the door of victory countless times before Shaw's goal sent them packing.

Of course, we saw Horton's departure from the Stanley Cup final in 2011 act as a momentum boost for his team, which outscored the Vancouver Canucks 21-4 after he was taken out by Aaron Rome. But that was a different circumstance, as his injury on Wednesday wasn't a dirty play and happened somewhat mysteriously. 

It's unclear the severity of Horton's injury or what exactly happened to the forward, but if he's unable to play in Game 2 or throughout the rest of the series, it'll be a huge loss for the Bruins. He's come on incredibly in this year's playoffs, notching seven goals and 11 assists just in the postseason.

 

Will Fatigue Affect Either Team in Game 2?

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The final numbers from Game 1 are absolutely ridiculous, and it leads one to believe that the ramifications from this marathon game will be felt past Wednesday night.

Game 1 lasted 112:08, less than eight minutes shy of being two full regular-season games. And it wasn't a slow game by any means, as the two teams combined for 117 shots (63-54 Blackhawks advantage). 

A combined 19 players notched at least 30 minutes of ice time, including five players with at least 40 minutes on ice. Dennis Seidenberg and Duncan Keith both notched nearly 49 minutes on the ice. 

Harry How/Getty Images

Neither team let off the gas as far as intensity goes, either. The Blackhawks racked up 61 hits compared to Boston's 59. 

Simply put, ice baths should be in high demand in urban Chicago over the next 48 hours. 

There's no doubt that all of these players are accustomed to playing in long overtime games, as each team has had to play a similarly long game in their respective playoff runs. But three overtimes isn't normal by any means, much less with the intensity we saw on Wednesday.

It's safe to say there will be a handful of tired legs late in Game 2, but with the Stanley Cup on the line, don't expect any of them to take it easy while on the ice.

 

Can the Blackhawks Afford to Come on Late Again?

Harry How/Getty Images

Sure, the city of Chicago is celebrating an epic Game 1 victory, where its team showed an incredible amount of grit and resolve. But is it a formula that works?

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We saw the Blackhawks come on late in their playoff series with the Detroit Red Wings earlier in the postseason, going down 3-1 in the series before pulling off three straight wins and advancing. A similar dynamic led to victory on Wednesday, as they were down 3-1 in the third period before storming back.

The Blackhawks certainly have the talent to pull off incredible stretches of hockey and tear up the net, but against a team like Boston, that formula of success won't last all series.

The Bruins are arguably just as talented and gritty as Chicago, and they boast the playmakers to shut down the Blackhawks' late runs when they come about. It just didn't bounce their way in Game 1, but don't expect Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg to give up late goals like they did Wednesday.

 

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