2013 Stanley Cup Final Predictions
Pucking Hockey’s 2013 Stanley Cup final predictions are finally here between the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks. Before we get into our prediction let’s take a look at how each team got to the finals and our series preview on how each team matches up with one another.
It didn’t start out easy for Boston as they found themselves in a game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs where they were trailing in the game 4-1 with about 10 minutes to go. The Leafs thought they had the game in the bag after scoring their 4th unanswered goal but quickly they learned to never let their foot off the pedal until the game was over.
Boston as you know, scored 3 unanswered goals with their fourth coming in overtime and have gone 8-1 in the playoffs since then.
The Blackhawks biggest series came in the semi finals where they found themselves down in the series against Detroit 3-1. This was of course before they found their game and took the series in an epic game 7 overtime where Brent Seabrook scored to send the Hawks to the Western Conference Finals.
Everyone including myself didn’t expect Chicago to easily skate all over L.A. but they did and both Boston and Chicago are entering the finals with a lot of momentum.
Offense – Edge goes to Chicago
Boston does not have the big name stars like Chicago does but they are just as equal on offense. David Krejci leads the playoffs in both goals (9) and points (21). Nathan Horton is second in playoff scoring with 17 points and his plus-21 rating leads all players by a significant margin.
With Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic bringing a physical edge and Patrice Bergeron’s defensive abilities, Boston’s top lines have been nearly unstoppable of late.
So far in these playoffs Boston has won 56 percent of their draws at the face-off dot, but it will be interesting to see how they do with out Gregory Campbell. Each year the team that succeeds in the playoffs is the team that has that underrated player that comes out of their shell. Boston had Campbell – who is now out with a broken leg – and Chicago has Bryan Bickell.
Chicago have been getting consistent offense from Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Bryan Bickell throughout these playoffs, and it wasn’t until the Western Conference finals we saw Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane finally break out.
If Chicago is going to dominate on offense they need to get consistent offense from their top lines with Michal Handzus and Andrew Shaw racking up the hits while making timely contributions on offense.
In my opinion Chicago has the edge on offense if they can wear down Boston’s defense with their speed and by consistently generating second and third chances off rebounds.
Defense – Edge goes to Boston
At age 36, Zdeno Chara is playing some of the best hockey of his career, averaging nearly 30 minutes of ice time with 53 hits and 33 blocked shots to go with 11 points. The Bruins are also getting great smart hockey out of 22 year old Torey Krug who has just played 3 games in the NHL before being called up in the semi finals.
Krug has collected six points in nine games and it playing very smart hockey for the Bruins on the back end, something they will need against this Chicago offense.
Chicago’s defense has been the same as it has been all season. Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are doing their jobs and aren’t disappointing Chicago in any way. Niklas Hjalmarsson and Michal Rozsival both stepped up in Game 4 against the Kings when Keith was suspended but they will need to do an even better job against Boston by limiting turnovers and clearing the zone.
Goaltending – Edge goes to Boston
Tuukka Rask: 12-4, .943 save percentage, 1.75 GAA, two shutouts.
Corey Crawford: 12-5, .935 save percentage, 1.74 GAA, one shutout.
Boston and Chicago fans have quickly forgotten about Tim Thomas and Anti Neimi and it’s all because of the stellar goaltending these two teams have been getting these playoffs.
Nobody and I mean NOBODY expected Rask or Crawford to be this good entering the playoffs. Neither goalies have much playoff experience but they both have shut down teams in the playoffs, and I mean SHUTDOWN!
Crawford has faced an offensive-less Wild team, an OK Red Wings offense although Datsyuk was silent. Then shut down an offensive-less Kings team. But Rask has faced a high scoring team in the Leafs, an offensive-less Rangers team then turned around and shut down the best offensive team in the playoffs, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
If it weren’t for Rask the Penguins could have won the series, he single handedly shutdown Crosby, Malkin and company. And for that, Boston has the edge in net.
Stanley Cup Prediction
I know I gave the edge to Boston in 2 out of the 3 categories that I covered but Chicago should do what Pittsburgh didn’t do on offense. And that is to score on Tuuka Rask.
Expect a lot of tight low scoring games and don’t be surprised if almost every game comes down to the wire or comes down to 1-2 overtimes. It won’t be easy for Chicago but home ice advantage and their stars are heating up finally as I expect Toews and Kane to carry this team to the promise land. Especially since Chicago did just knock off the former champs.
Chicago Blackhawks to win the Stanley Cup in 7 games while Jonathan Toews wins the Conn Smythe trophy for the second time in his career.
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