Well I guess my dream of going 14 for 15 with my playoff predictions is gone, and I didn’t just barely miss. No, that was the Ultimate Warrior and I was the Honky Tonk Man. I was the champ and I was feeling pretty damn cocky heading into my match with whoever was in the back and willing to fight me. Then the Warrior came out. Jimmy Hart couldn’t save me, nobody could save me. And before I knew it, I had not only lost my belt, I had been humiliated. Pens in 7….WRONG!!! Kings in 6….WRONG!!! Hawks and Bruins for the Cup it is, and it only took them a total of 9 games to get through the conference finals.
It’s one heck of a sexy matchup. 2 originial 6 teams (first time since 79 when the Habs took down the Rangers in 5). 2 of the top 4 TV markets in the US which will make the NHL offices in New York VERY happy. It has a marketable star too in Patrick Kane who is coming off a hatty and series winning OT goal (don’t confuse star with marketable star, Jonathan Toews is miles ahead of Kane but he isn’t as marketable). If your team wasn’t going to get in the final, then you couldn’t have asked for a better matchup. If you’re a Wings fan, or Habs fan, or Leafs fan then you have a team to pull for….the team that you don’t hate!
So lets get on with it, who will win. Well since there is only the 1 series to talk about I guess I have to drag this out don’t I? Lets talk about the tendy’s first. Rask is better than Crawford. Ok, now that we covered the tendy’s….maybe I’ll give it more respect than that. Look, everyone is sky high on Rask right now. He’s great, don’t get me wrong. But the Pens generated NOTHING in that series. Just about every shot was right at the B’s logo. And usually nobody was near the net for the rebound. Now, while I think the Bruins did a FANTASTIC job playing New Jersey Devils circa 2003 type hockey (if that’s not a backhanded compliment, I don’t know what is), the Pens still never made Rask make many great saves. Don’t get wrapped up in shots on goal, it can be decieving.
Meanwhile, Crawford doesn’t face many shots but it seems to me that when he gets them, they’re high quality chances. The Bruins have good offensive fire power, but Crawford is capable of shutting the door on them. So while there is still no doubt that Rask is the better goaltender (better technically, better athletically), the Hawks will put up a much better offensive fight than the Pens did so if the Bruins are to win this series Rask is going to have to be even better than he has been so far.
Then we have the 2 bluelines. The Bruins have the top dog in Chara, but give me the Hawks blueline as a 6 man unit over the Bruins. They move the puck much better and they’re more mobile. Brent Seabrook has been great in these playoffs, Duncan Keith is Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson is underrated, and Johnny Oduya is DISGUSTING….but he still moves the puck pretty good. It’s the type of blueline that every NHL GM wishes to have these days.
Up front the Bruins have a bit of a size advantage but anywhere near as bad as its made out to be. Lucic is huge, but so is Bryan Bickell. Nathan Horton is a beast, but Marian Hossa is 6’1 210. And these are top 6 guys. As for the skill, its not like the Bruins lack skill but give me the Hawks skill up front over Boston’s, especially as a unit. The chemistry Chicago has up front is ridiculous. The misconception is that the Hawks are a finesse team. The Hawks can play any style, so if the Bruins want to take this series into the ally I’m sure the Hawks won’t have any problem with that.
But if we are talking about up front then of course I’m going to hit on how they matchup down the middle which as you may know is vital in my mind. This is where the Bruins have the Hawks beat. Not by a lot, Jonathan Toews is still the 2nd best player in the league in my mind, but the Bruins still beat them. Patrice Bergeron is as close to a Jonathan Toews clone as you’ll find in the league. Then, while I LOVE Dave Bolland, David Krejci is just simply on another level. Chris Kelly and Michal Handzus are pretty much a wash, and while Andrew Shaw is the best 4th line center in this series it’s pretty much like being the tallest midget.
I could break down the coaching battle, but in the end to me it’s a wash. Julien and Quennville are both great. So that’s how I feel about the matchups, I can honestly say either of these 2 could win the series. The Bruins might be better in more area’s, but not by enough to make them a favorite in my mind (I believe they are favored by Vegas in the series). So here it is…..
Hawks in 7
I’m going to get really stupid here and make a game by game prediction that in no way will be right. In game 1 the Hawks will shock everyone and put 5 past Rask in a 5-1 blowout. Game 2 the Bruins will bounce back with a gritty 3-2 OT win and for the first time since 2004 the Stanley Cup final will be 1-1. Game 3 the Bruins on home ice will come out strong and walk away with a 3-1 win. Game 4 I got the Hawks coming back with a big 4-3 OT win to tie the series. They split home wins in 5 and 6, and then the Hawks on home ice skate away with a 3-2 win and their 2nd Stanley Cup in 4 years….I would be shocked if ANY of that happened.
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