The Chicago Blackhawks won Game 1 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final through perseverance and speed, and if all goes according to plan the Blackhawks will own a commanding 2-0 series lead following Game 2 on Saturday night.
Chicago was able to outlast the Boston Bruins 4-3 in a three-overtime thriller on Wednesday night despite falling behind to a 2-0 deficit early into the second period.
The biggest key to the Blackhawks' Game 1 win—other than goaltender Corey Crawford's 51 saves—was Chicago's combination of speed on the offensive attack and its mobile defense.
Boston had trouble containing the Blackhawks' speedy forwards in Game 1, as Dave Bolland, Michael Frolik, Marian Hossa, Marcus Kruger, Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw all registered points for Chicago. If Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell get it going in Game 2, Boston will be looking up at a serious deficit.
On defense, the Blackhawks boast a combination of power and speed as well as talented defenders who quickly get the puck to their playmaking forwards.
That Chicago defense is also responsible for a slew of takeaways, as the Blackhawks lead the NHL in takeaways throughout the playoffs. What's even worse for the Bruins is the fact that they lead the playoffs in giveaways, which spells disaster for a team that's already down 1-0 and could be without its star forward.
According to TSN hockey insider Darren Dreger, Nathan Horton's status for Game 2 is looking bleak.
Tough nailing down injury specifics during the playoffs. I'm hearing Nathan Horton's injury is not that bad, but he's doubtful for gm 2.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 13, 2013
The extent of Horton's injury is still largely unknown. What we do know is that he's being labeled as day-to-day after exiting in the first overtime of Wednesday's Game 1.
Horton is Boston's second-leading points scorer throughout the playoffs, posting seven goals and 11 assists to go with a team-best plus-22 plus/minus.
If Horton is unable to go, Chicago's defense can really key in on guys like Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Tyler Seguin. If the defenders utilize their speed and versatility to the best of their abilities, they'll be able to make long passes to Blackhawk forwards and create scoring opportunities on Tuukka Rask.
All of this should allow Chicago to avoid an early deficit and take control of the game from the moment the puck drops.
The Blackhawks have all of the momentum heading into the Game 2 tilt, and playing at home before a rowdy Chicago crowd, I think they take a commanding 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final.