Through the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final, the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks have proved what most hockey observers theorized before the start of the series: Both teams are virtually even.
The Blackhawks and Bruins have exchanged overtime victories in Chicago. In the first game, the Bruins squandered two two-goal leads and the Blackhawks took the game. The Blackhawks dominated the first period in Game 2, but the Bruins rebounded from the poor start to steal the game on the road.
While there's plenty of time for players to write the full script for the series, here's a look at who's hot and who's not in the early part of the series.
Patrick Sharp has been the Blackhawks' best goal scorer in the playoffs. He uses his speed to get open. He can get his shot off quickly and find the open top corner.
Sharp and Boston's David Krejci are tied for the playoff goal-scoring lead with with nine each. Sharp scored the Blackhawks' lone goal in their 2-1 overtime loss in Game 2 when he wristed home a shot in the first period while Boston goalie Tuukka Rask was trying to scramble back into position.
Sharp was very busy in the first period and could have had one or two more goals if it weren't for Rask's outstanding play. Sharp had six shots on goal in the opening 20 minutes and seven in the game.
The Bruins will have to find a way to slow down Sharp if they want to win on home ice in Games 3 and 4.
Milan Lucic is one of the most influential players in black and gold. He seemed to carry the Bruins on his back in the seventh game of the opening-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and he has not slowed down since then.
Lucic came out of the gate storming in the opening game of the Stanley Cup Final with two goals and an assist. He did not add to his scoring total in Game 2, but he helped turn the game around with his physical presence. Lucic was credited with 10 hits, and many of his body checks were heavy and punishing.
As long as Lucic skates hard on every shift—something he didn't do in the regular season—he will be tough for the Blackhawks to control as the series progresses.
In some ways, Jonathan Toews' lack of production is an old story. He has not been able to put the puck in the net throughout the postseason.
He scored one goal in the conference semifinal series against the Detroit Red Wings, and that's the only time he has found the back of the net in the postseason.
This is unacceptable. Toews is the Blackhawks' best player, and while they have managed to win the first three rounds of the playoffs with Toews slumping, they might not be able to hoist the Stanley Cup against a powerhouse team like the Bruins if Toews does not start to score.
It's never going to be about a lack of effort with Toews; it's simply a lack of production. During the first two games, he does not have a goal or an assist and he has been successful on just 45 percent of his faceoff attempts.
Jaromir Jagr has been a presence for the Bruins, and he has had several stellar scoring opportunities. Jagr cruised into the slot early in Game 2 and whipped off a dangerous wrist shot that Corey Crawford snared.
Once Game 2 went into overtime, Jagr had a chance to end it early as he whipped another shot at Crawford. The puck got by the Blackhawks goaltender, but it whipped off the inside of the post and ricocheted out. Jagr turned his head skyward after the close call.
Jagr, one of the most explosive players in postseason history, has failed to score a goal for the Bruins during the playoffs. He has seven assists and has even showed a defensive presence, but the Bruins need him to score goals.
Jagr has been credited with 51 shots on goal in the postseason. This is the longest postseason goal slump of his career.
Andrew Shaw has been causing quite a few headaches for the Boston Bruins. The third-line center has been a key influence in the first two games.
He scored the game-winner in the Game 1 marathon when the puck glanced off his leg and sailed past Tuukka Rask in triple overtime. While that was largely a function of luck—it was a double deflection—Shaw was in the right place at the right time.
He also set up the Blackhawks' second goal in that game. Shaw intercepted a Torey Krug pass, carried it hard into the Bruins' zone and fed Dave Bolland with a perfect pass that he rifled past Rask.
The Blackhawks were down 3-1 at the time, and they likely never would have forced overtime if Shaw had not been so aggressive and decisive.
Shaw did not get on the scoreboard in Game 2, but he was credited with six hits, four takeaways, two shots on goal and two blocked shots. He has been a force in the first two games.
This postseason has been largely disappointing for Tyler Seguin. However, he has been one of the Bruins' most influential players during the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final.
Seguin is the Bruins' fastest skater, and his speed has been obvious in the extra sessions of the first two games. He had a slew of chances in Game 1, but Corey Crawford kept him from finding the back of the net.
Seguin's tape-to-tape pass set up Daniel Paille with the game-winning goal in Game 2. He also assisted on Patrice Bergeron's power-play goal in Game 1. That goal gave the Bruins a 3-1 lead and appeared to give them control of the game.
Seguin has had 10 shots on goal in the first two games of the series, and he has played both ends of the ice well. He has already had an influence on the series, and it seems that he is just inches away from breaking through in the goal-scoring category.
The Blackhawks appear to have a significant problem on their blue line. Brent Seabrook is not playing up to the form that head coach Joel Quenneville expects from him.
Seabrook has been a step slow on the defensive end throughout the playoffs. He had Boston's Daniel Paille in his sights when the Bruins left winger took his game-winning shot in overtime of Game 2.
Seabrook is a big, rangy defenseman who is known for his excellent shot, but his defensive play has not been good enough in the playoffs.
Seabrook has scored two goals and one assist in the postseason. One of the goals was the series clincher in overtime of the seventh game against Detroit. However, he is minus-three overall in the postseason, and he has been a liability on several occasions.
Brad Marchand was one of the Bruins' most influential players in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals victory over the Vancouver Canucks. He scored five goals in that seven-game series, including two in the decisive game.
Through two games of the 2013 Stanley Cup final, Marchand has had several chances to score against the Blackhawks, including a breakaway late in the second period. He beat Corey Crawford with his shot, but it hit the post and skittered away.
Marchand is supposed to be a clutch scorer for the Bruins, but he has not been able to put his name on the scoresheet once in two marathon games.