Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final gets underway Saturday night. Can Chicago and Boston deliver a repeat performance of Game 1?
The Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins set the bar pretty high in terms of excitement in the opening game of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. With Saturday's Game 2 approaching, the question on fans' minds is simple: Can these teams take us on another thrill ride?
I'm sure they can. I won't be disappointed if the 'Hawks can limit the action to a regulation win, though. I don't know about you, but I'm not sure how many triple-overtime games I can take.
What was a fast-paced affair Wednesday night/Thursday morning in Game 1, bogged down noticeably as the game went deep into extra time. No surprise there. Most of regulation play was a combination of speed and physical play, with Chicago giving as good as it got from a hitting standpoint.
Actually, by winning the hit count for the game, 61-59, Chicago gave just a little bit more. This is where the chess match kicks in between 'Hawks coach Joel Quenneville and Boston coach Claude Julien.
Will the 'Hawks be as physical in Game 2 as they were in Game 1?
Neither team practiced Thursday for obvious reasons. While Quenneville could come out with a new look at Friday's skate. It would be a little out of character for him to mess with a winning lineup, although he did so prior to Game 1.
Missing Horton would mean that Julien would have to tweak his top line, which was so effective Wednesday night as the Bruins built a 3-1 lead. Tyler Seguin finished the game in Horton's spot and could do so on a full-time basis Saturday night in Chicago.
Julien could opt for Daniel Paille if he wanted to give that line a measure of Horton's grit. Horton's absence would require Julien to add a new face to the lineup as well.
The Blackhawks came out flying in Game 1 and also took it to the Bruins from a physical standpoint. Is Boston going to amp up its muscle in response? Will Quenneville change tactics and press his squad's speed advantage? Can that be done, considering the way the Bruins took the middle of the ice away from Chicago?
Both teams have the advantage of an extra day off heading into Game 2. That indicates that fatigue won't be the factor it might have been had the contest been held Friday night. Still, it will be interesting to see if the pace on Saturday night will match the way that Game 1 began.