Tonight is game one of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final (why do people refer to it as the finals?) between the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks. The story here is that each team may as well be playing themselves. These two teams are almost mirror images of each other in just about every aspect. Offense, defense, special teams…its difficult to separate one from the other. Taking a look at the personnel on each squad only displays, in greater detail, just how similar the B’s and ‘Hawks are to each other.
David Krejci and Patrick Kane:
Yes, Kane has played one more game, but the average time on ice per game separates the two by only one minute, with Krejci averaging 20:57 to Kane’s 19:57. David obviously gets the nod in points, as the leader in these playoffs, but with 6 goals and 14 points, Kane is slowly closing in on David’s 21 points. Even size-wise they are close. As we all know, the official heights and weights the teams release is questionable in some cases, David is listed at 6 feet, 188 pounds. Kane is a paltry (tongue firmly planted in cheek) 5′ 11″ and 181 pounds. This matchup is a wash in my opinion, creativity going to Kane.
Patrice Bergeron and Jonathan Toews:
Two of the best two way players, if not the two best (with a nod to Pavel in Detroit) in the NHL at this time. Both are Selke nominees this season, so they automatically cancel each other out, and possibly the entire opposing team at the same time, they are both just that damn good. Here Toews gets the time on ice nod by a little over half a minute, with both players over 20 minutes per night. Toews is at 21. Bergeron has 11 points during this post season, edging out Toews by two, but its no secret that Jonathan has been struggling to put the puck in the net with only one goal in 17 games. Again, size is comparable, with both individuals listed at 6′ 2″ and Toews slightly heavier at 208 to Patrice’s 194 pounds. The edge here would have to go to Bergeron, solely on the fact that Toews is struggling to find the back of the net. Should this change, then this matchup is a wash as well.
Zdeno Chara and Duncan Keith:
Two Norris trophy winners, and unlike this year’s presumptive winner, they both won the award on their defensive prowess as well as their ability to dent the twine. Zdeno is a beast this post-season with 29 minutes of time on ice while Keith is no slouch at just under 26 minutes per game. They are exact with their stat lines at 2 goals and 11 points. Big Z has an 8 inch height advantage, a 6 point +/- advantage, and, in this writer’s opinion, a slight advantage in the series.
Tuukka Rask and Corey Crawford:
Tuukka is finally casting the shadow of Tim Thomas off his back. I would be the first to tell you that there is a book on him, as there is for most European goaltenders. High glove is the place to shoot when facing him. But this post-season, Tuukka is playing out of his mind. Allowing only two goals to the vaunted Penguin offense (yes, I am aware that he doesn’t do it all on his own, but he is the last line of defense) is nothing to scoff at. His 1.75 GAA and 94.3 save percentage are ridiculous, and to allow for one other comparison, better than the final numbers Thomas put up in the Stanley Cup run from 2010-11. Corey Crawford on the other hand…wait, his numbers are ridiculous as well. He has a 1.74 GAA and a 93.5 save percentage. So again, this is a wash.
There are too many comparisons to make…Lucic and Bickell, Marchand and Shaw, the ineffectiveness of both teams’ power play units. The mirror images go on and on. So when picking a winner in this Stanley Cup series, I would say that it will be the Bruins in seven, or six, or seven. Yep, I have been called a homer (and I am, especially when it comes to the Red Wings), but I feel that there is a slight intangible that sways it for the Black and Gold. Or maybe it will be the Blackhawks in seven, due to their superb penalty killing this post-season. Oh, wait…If you look at just the last two rounds, the Bruins have a higher penalty kill percentage at 93.55% than the Blackhawks 92.5%. See, the comparisons just keep coming, so do what I went and did…just ask the mirror mirror on the wall.
Special thanks to Sportsnetics.com for the assist with some of the statistics used in this post.