After splitting a pair of exciting overtime games in Chicago, the Stanley Cup Final pays a visit to Beantown for the resumption of play Monday night.
TV: CBC; RADIO: TEAM1200
SERIES TO DATE
Chicago won the first game in come from behind fashion with a double-tipped triple overtime goal from Andrew Shaw to win game one, while Boston came from behind in game 2 and used an OT marker from Dan Paille to even the series heading home for game 3.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Jonathan Toews, CHI – The Blackhawks will not win this series if Toews doesn’t contribute offensively. Joel Quenneville has reunited the top line of Toews, Marian Hossa and Brandon Saad that was so dominant in the regular season, but he might have to shuffle that combination if they cannot get through. They have had lots of chances as a group, but results are what counts at this point.
Zdeno Chara, BOS – One of the reasons that Toews has not been successful has been the play of Chara, and at home you can expect Claude Julien to ensure there is a constant matchup between the two. Chara has held Toews pointless in Chicago, and doing so at home for the next two games would put Boston in a good position to hoist the Cup for the second time in 3 years.
TOP 3 STORYLINES FOR THE GAME
1. Fatigue: Both team have gone through 3 wars already and have played more than a full game’s worth of overtime over the first two games of this series. Minute management of the top players is key, and Boston has used their key players for more minutes so far than Chicago has.
2. Conn Job: Usually by this point in the post-season there is a clear-cut candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy. While the field has been whittled down to 2, both Corey Crawford and Tuukka Rask will attempt to lay claim through the last 3-5 games of the season. Both netminders have been spectacular and it takes a jam the net or weird bounce to beat them. In most cases, even if they can’t see the puck coming, they stop it.
3. Ref Effect: The no-goal call on Toews’ wraparound in the first period of game 2 was a series-changer. If the goal had counted and Chicago goes up 2-0 in that game, they probably go up 2-0 in the series and are breathing a little bit easier heading to Boston. I am not saying that goal definitely should have counted, but the conflicting explanations on why it didn’t count leaves some questions to be answered (but probably never will be).
Depending on your perception on how the game should be played, this series has either been incredibly exciting or extremely boring. I have seen people on both sides of the fence on that one, especially in game 2. Either way, you would have to agree it has been intense and tight-checking, a series between two very evenly matched teams that will do what it takes to win.
That is what makes a classic series, if not always the most exciting. Mistakes create excitement in most cases, and these are two teams that simply don’t make very many.