Stanley Cup Final 2013: Critical Keys for Game 6
They took charge early in Game 5 to win at home and take a 3-2 lead, but the task will be much harder in Game 6 as they attempt to close out the series.
The Blackhawks will be taking on a desperate Bruins team that does not want to see the visitors parade around with the Stanley Cup. Here are the critical keys to tonight's game.
Bruins Need Strong Start
The Chicago Blackhawks took control of the Stanley Cup Final when they got off to a strong start in Game 5. Patrick Kane scored late in the first period and again early in the second, and that allowed the Blackhawks to dictate the pace at the United Center.
The Boston Bruins need to do the same thing if they are going to square the series with a win in Game 6. The Bruins got off to good starts in Games 1 and 3, but the Blackhawks have taken charge early in Games, 2, 4 and 5.
Chicago has the edge in speed and quickness, while the Bruins are the more physical team. Look for Claude Julien to have his team bounce bodies all over the rink. That could lead to the all-important first goal.
The Blackhawks will have to be ready for a strong Boston start and then provide a counter-punch of their own.
Kane Is Able
Patrick Kane is the quickest player on the ice. He complements his ability to skate into the open areas and make key plays with his excellent hand-eye coordination and high skill level.
Kane is at the top of his game, scoring three goals and an assist in the last two games, and the Bruins don't appear to have any answers for him.
The Blackhawks want to see their star continue his hot streak. Nothing will quiet the crowd quicker than a goal by Kane.
Corey Crawford and Tuukka Rask have both been stellar during the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Both goalies are leading the way with 1.83 goals against averages, but they have shown vulnerabilities from time to time.
The sixth game of the Stanley Cup Final would be the wrong time to show a weakness. Crawford's glove hand has been questioned throughout the series, and the scrutiny was intensified after giving up five goals in Game 4.
Still, he was the winning goalie in that game, as Rask gave up six. Rask was not happy with that performance, but he has been one of the Bruins' best players throughout the postseason.
Neither Patrice Bergeron nor Jonathan Toews were able to finish Game 5.
It seems likely that both players will try to play in Game 6, but there is no way of knowing if either one will be effective. If Bergeron or Toews can contribute while the other struggles, that will give one team an advantage.
These are the two best forwards on their respective teams. Both players do much more than contribute on an offensive level. They are among the two best defensive players in the league, and while Toews is solid in the faceoff circle, Bergeron is the best player in the league in that area.
Toews has scored two goals and had 10 assists in the postseason, while Bergeron has scored nine goals and served up six assists.
Claude Julien said Bergeron would dress for warm-ups tonight. If he plays, that should get a loud Boston crowd whipped into a frenzy.
Where Is Brad Marchand?
Brad Marchand was one of the Bruins' most valuable players during their 2011 Stanley Cup run.
Marchand is known as a pest and an agitator, but he is also a dangerous hockey player with speed, quickness and a hard, accurate shot.
This time around, he has been quiet in the Stanley Cup Final, failing to tally a point. The Bruins need Marchand to step up with their season on the line.
These are two veteran teams that have both had recent Stanley Cup success. The Blackhawks are trying to win their second Stanley Cup in four seasons, while the Bruins are trying to stay alive so they can win their second in three years in Game 7 Wednesday night.
Both teams have shown the ability to bounce back from adversity, so the Bruins, who have lost two straight, should not be undone by their recent problems.
The Blackhawks know that a 3-2 advantage does not mean they have won the Stanley Cup. They have to play their best game of the series tonight if they are going to win.
Both teams should be prepared and neither one should collapse.
The team with the emotional edge may be able to use that to propel itself to victory tonight.