Despite the whiskey and beer haze, the memories of June 24th are still fresh in my mind as I hope they are in yours. It doesn’t hurt to go back and watch this video every few weeks like I find myself doing when I need a smile (probably should turn down your speakers). That win was in way so much more fun because of the polar opposite types of endings – a come from behind knockout punch against a subtle confusing delayed celebration. Either way, it was a special night to remember no matter how many brain cells I killed.
You’d hope it remains the same for the players too. Sure there are subtractions and additions on both benches but for the most part, the cores have remained the same on each side and the bewilderment had to have turned to disappointment and anger on the Boston side. Though the games were entertaining and physical, it lacked the sideshow drama and ill-will that built up against the series like we saw in Philly (Chris Pronger).
So at a completely unnatural time for hockey, we’ll get to see not only the always entertaining Original 6 match up, but the a Stanley Cup re-match that also features 3 of the last 4 winners of the chalice. Get yer coffee and bacon ready.
For Boston, they’re coming off a win against Dallas last Thursday that was an evenly matched outing and typically physical outing for Boston (14 penalties called between the two squads). Their top line finally began showing some signs of life again as both Lecic and Krejci potted goals, the first outburst from that line in a few weeks. While Boston fan hopes the win provides signs of the ship being righted, their team is still 5-5-0 in the their last 10. They’re also only mediocre on the road, 12-10-0, compared to a solid home record of 18-5-2. Even with the recent struggles though, the Bruins remain in a comfortable lead in the Atlantic with a point lead and two games in hand over the Bolts. Their struggles still don’t hide their talent. They’re in the top 5 in team Corsi share and are near the top for Goals for and against in the league. From the beginning of the year it’s looked like it’ll be another Pens/Bruins match up in the Eastern Conference Finals. That all remains to be seen. Here’s my obligatory shot at how bad the East sucks too – the 62 points the Bruins have in their second place spot would only be good enough for 7th in the West.
Injuries haven’t helped the Bruins.. or should I say “injuries have been a problem”? Fuck.. I’ll get the hang of this writing thing one day. Whether it’s being decapitated by John Scott, multiple other concussions, knee injuries or even just being stabbed by your own captain, having to find replacements for key players has been an ongoing battle for Boston this year. Bartkowski and Miller are working as their third pairing as McQuaid gets dragged around the ice by the speedy Krug. Chara is still a force but the Hawks found out exactly how to deal with him last year and exposed him badly. He’s not all that big really, it’s just a matter of perspective.
Rask is getting the nod in the net after being off Thursday to prevent limbs from falling off from exhaustion. He hasn’t been stellar lately but with the extra rest, he should be able to come out strong in a big game for the Bruins.
For Chicago, Friday’s gem was a great way to get their game back. You can forget struggles a lot easier when you’re able to take down the league’s hottest team in a pretty decisive manner. The bad turnover and brainfart that lead to the Ducks goals were erased by Hossa’s empty netter. Versteeg and his line had a solid game and Steeger looks to be fine after his collision with Bickell late in the second. The Hawks relied less on home run passing and gave their defensemen more options down low for quick passes. The team is fast enough that they don’t always need the long passing options. If the forwards get the play going the right way low enough, they’ll find ways to burn just about any team. That’s going to be especially crucial this morning as the Bruins have plenty of large nasty forwards that will be looking to force guys like Leddy and Seabrook into mistakes.
Kane still remains in a slump and even while a full two steps off his blistering pace earlier, I thought he had signs of breaking out in the last game… even if he did only record a single shot. So hopefully your breakfast is tasting good. Enjoy the hockey and the football today.
Let’s Go Hawks