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Cup finals questions: Can Chicago break through Boston’s ‘layers’?

Jun 10, 2013, 2:35 PM EDT

Chara and Crosby Getty Images

The defensive system the Bruins used to reduce the Pittsburgh Penguins to two goals in four games isn’t complicated, according to Boston head coach Claude Julien.

What it takes to be successful is a complete team effort.

“I think it’s pretty obvious that we have layers,” said Julien. “Our guys are committed to come back and just making sure that there’s layer after layer that make it hard for them to get to our net.”

Of course, it helps that the Bruins have the following key players in their “layers”:

—- Patrice Bergeron, one of the best defensive forwards in the game.

—- Zdeno Chara, one of the best shutdown defensemen in the game.

—- Tuukka Rask, entering the Stanley Cup finals with a .943 save percentage in the playoffs.

And that’s the challenge that awaits the Chicago Blackhawks — a team, it should be noted, that just defeated a pretty good defensive side in the Los Angeles Kings.

“We’ve seen some of [Boston's] games, especially the last series there,” Chicago d-man Duncan Keith said. “Sweeping Pittsburgh, I think, says it all right there with the amount of firepower Pittsburgh had, what they were able to do to a team like that.”

Prior to the Western Conference finals, ‘Hawks forward Marian Hossa said the key to winning would be to use their plethora of speed and skill.

“They play a physical game,” said Hossa. “We play a quick game, and we know how we can beat them. We just have to use our quickness.”

The same should hold true versus Boston.

Arguably Chicago’s quickest and most creative player, forward Patrick Kane, struggled at times versus Los Angeles, but he broke out in a big way during Saturday’s clinching victory, potting a hat trick that included the overtime winner.

“Yeah, he stepped up,” said ‘Hawks coach Joel Quenneville. “He took on the responsibility of leading the team. Proven he’s a top player in the game, he made special plays over the two games. [It's] nice to see him finish it off in a real positive way for us.”

Quenneville will have his work cut out, too. Can he draw up a better game plan than Dan Bylsma did for the Penguins?

Perhaps Quenneville can glean something from watching tape of Boston’s first-round series versus Toronto in which the Maple Leafs used their speed to score 18 goals in seven games.

Also worth mentioning: five of Toronto’s 18 goals came on the power play, an area of Chicago’s game that will almost certainly need to improve if the Blackhawks are to hoist the Cup.

Against the Kings, the ‘Hawks scored just once on 14 man-advantage tries and still managed to advance; however, that was against a banged-up group that had struggled to score all postseason.

The Bruins, for all everyone is talking about their defense, have averaged an impressive 3.12 goals per game in the playoffs.

 

  1. jimthebear - Jun 10, 2013 at 2:40 PM

    Simply put… NO. If Pitts offense could only produce 2 goals in 5 games, then NO, I don’t think they can.. Goal a game isn’t going to do it.

    • valoisjoeybfeld69 - Jun 10, 2013 at 3:10 PM

      They can increase their chances if coach Q takes advantage of line matching on home ice.

    • adambballn - Jun 10, 2013 at 3:34 PM

      Comparing Chicago and Pittsburgh’s style of offense is like comparing apples and oranges; just because they were 1 and 2 in the league in scoring doesn’t mean they did it the same way… the Hawks create their scoring more from stretch passes and taking advantage of turnovers created by their defense… Pittsburgh’s defense is crap.

      • 19to77 - Jun 10, 2013 at 9:10 PM

        You don’t see Boston’s D giving up turnovers much. And they fill the middle of the ice like few other teams, making stretch passing difficult. That said, Rask is much less daunting 1-on-1 than he is with the Bruins swarming in front of him, and Chicago’s been good at finding open space to exploit against even the Kings, one of the few teams as talented defensively as Boston.

        This is gonna be close.

  2. buffalomafia - Jun 10, 2013 at 2:45 PM

    Anything can happen! Who thought Boston would sweep Pittsburgh?

    I think its going 7 games!

    If Boston wins Lucic scores game winner!

    If Chicago scores Kane gets game winner!

    • kingcobraman - Jun 10, 2013 at 3:19 PM

      *$#&* you are a genius…

    • intruudir - Jun 10, 2013 at 3:41 PM

      idiot

    • itsallniceonice - Jun 11, 2013 at 2:17 AM

      If Lucic scores a SC game 7 winner my jaw will hit the floor.

  3. amerika1313 - Jun 10, 2013 at 2:50 PM

    I tried to focus on the story, I really did… But look at that picture. I know Sid Crosby’s not a huge guy, but his seemingly tiny, baby-man fingers barely peek out from behind Chara’s bananahands! That’s insane! I mean Chara’s fingers reach nearly to the inside of Crosby’s elbow! Bananahands!

    • chicagobtech - Jun 10, 2013 at 4:19 PM

      It’s like watching Jaws throw around James Bond. Jaws’ palm covers Bond’s entire face!

  4. adge84 - Jun 10, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    Chicago can only win if Rask becomes human again. He has flown under the radar long enough these past few years.

  5. grogansheroes - Jun 10, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    Hawks are the best transition team in the NHL. Bruins need to be very aware of this, especially on line changes. Hawks are a better Toronto style team, which gives me pause to think this is an advantage to Chicago. But can’t underestimate the Bruins. Whichever team can impose their will, should win. Let’s see!

    • kingcobraman - Jun 10, 2013 at 6:34 PM

      ace up the sleeve… Campbell…Campell.. Campell…

  6. lonespeed - Jun 10, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    I predict there will be a three over-time game.

  7. rahavort - Jun 10, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    Sounds exactly like the Pens before they started losing

    • adambballn - Jun 10, 2013 at 3:30 PM

      The Pens gave up the least amount of goals in the NHL this regular season? I don’t think so…

      • brianmckendry15 - Jun 10, 2013 at 4:07 PM

        Pens gave up more goals than Hawks(102); Ottawa (104), Boston (109), NY Rangers (112), Sharks (116), Blues and Red Wings (112), and Ducks and Kings (118). Even Columbus gave up only 119 goals like the Penguins did. Now if you meant SCORED more goals Yes they did, 10 more than the Hawks did. However Chicago had a +53 in goal difference to +46 for Pittsburg.

      • adambballn - Jun 10, 2013 at 4:14 PM

        My point was the Pens defense is not on the same level as the Hawks, so no, it doesn’t sound exactly like the Pens before they started losing… but I should have elaborated rather than making what I thought was a sarcastic comment.

  8. kingcobraman - Jun 10, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    Boston in 6 games, will physically were down the hawks …and a lot faster and skilled than L.A.

  9. tripps3 - Jun 10, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    Not sure why some folks think just because BOS shut down Pens, gonna just simply do it to CHi. So, if CHI simply speed past LA, then they can simply just do it to BOS? Ah, no. History doesn’t matter here, new series, new challenges on both sides folks.

    • adambballn - Jun 10, 2013 at 3:44 PM

      Exactly. We’ll have no idea how this series is going to play out until the puck drops on Wednesday. Both teams are rolling into this series hot. The Bruins just destroyed the media’s favorite team, the paper champions, and the Hawks just took care of the defending champions.

      • alexbaymac - Jun 10, 2013 at 4:05 PM

        I’ll extend that to ‘we’ll have no idea until after we see the response/coaching changes by the team that loses the first game’…ie. game 2. We’ll have an idea after the first game but we’ll have a better handle on it when we see how that team responds & adjusts.
        look at the way Detroit adjusted in game 2; the Hawks fortunately adjusted themselves to come back but game 1 doesn’t tell the whole story (& I realize you weren’t saying it does).

      • blackhawksdynasty - Jun 10, 2013 at 5:46 PM

        @Alex, good point. The first 20 of game 1 will prob be real sloppy as both teams try to get a feel for the other. They haven’t played each other in a long time, and both teams have undergone roster changes since their last meeting. Games 2-3 will give us a better idea of how they really match up.

  10. chanceoffleury1 - Jun 10, 2013 at 3:42 PM

    Chicago is a more complete team then Pittsburgh. If you can shut Pittsburgh’s special teams down you have a much, much better chance of winning a game. Chicago, like Boston, is a great 5 on 5 team. If Boston shuts down Chicago’s powerplay, they really won’t be doing much to hurt the Hawks. Whereas, by shutting down the Pens powerplay, it destroyed them.

  11. captaincj35 - Jun 10, 2013 at 3:43 PM

    I’m from Boston, live in Boston, and I’m a Bruins fan. Chicago seems to be the most complete team the Bruins will play in these playoffs, and that scares me a bit. They have a ton of front end talent, but can also play great D. They’ve won close low scoring games and seem more than confident playing a grind-it-out style if they have too, like Chicago did against Detroit. Something the Penguins weren’t prepared to do against the B’s. The ‘Hawks present the toughest test yet for the Bruins.

    That said, if you can keep Crosby, Malkin, Letang, etc., from scoring a point in an entire series… you can shut down anyone. If the B’s can keep rollin the way they are, which I think they will, the Bruins win in 6!

  12. garagehero1 - Jun 10, 2013 at 3:46 PM

    The boston bruins play like the Kings of last year. The blackhawks will be swept. Maybe 4-1

    • garagehero1 - Jun 10, 2013 at 4:16 PM

      Yes garagehero, I agree in your assessment. Gee, there sure are a lot of simpering bleakhawk fans giving you a thumbs down.

      • hammerhead5573 - Jun 10, 2013 at 7:22 PM

        Anyone who past’s a comment, then answers their own comment, really spends too much time in their garage. Feel free to makes some sense once in awhile.

  13. jacketsfan7 - Jun 10, 2013 at 3:51 PM

    @jimthebear they scored 2 goals in 4 games not 5 , I think if Bickell , Kane , and toews stay in fire maybe they can

  14. girouxed - Jun 10, 2013 at 3:57 PM

    The bruins are extremely humble, they deserve to be we’re they’re at right now.

  15. reefcup - Jun 10, 2013 at 4:26 PM

    You have to be willing to get dirty against the Bruins, goals at this stage don’t come on clean plays like in the regular season. Pittsburgh avoided the corners like it had the plague, they were built to win during the regular season – Boston went into the zone and came out of their own zone whenever they wanted with almost no resistance. Chicago showed against LA that they can create turnovers and are willing to work for goals – the third goal the other night is a great example.

    For Chicago to win, Toews is going to have to score. It would be nice for Bolland to get back on track too but that might just be a pipedream at this point.

    It should be interesting to see who Chicago matches up with the top Boston line. We know Keith will be out there for much of the time but I am interested to see who Q uses as the forward line.

    Also does Chara matchup against the Toews line or the Handzus line?

  16. davidmessina63 - Jun 10, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    I think this is going to be a great series. I think the teams are evenly matched. Both cities are great sports cities with good hockey fans. I wouldn’t be surprised if this goes to a game 7 with OT. Looking forward to this one. Go Bruins!

  17. dhillca - Jun 10, 2013 at 4:43 PM

    Parfaits have layers!
    Parfaits are delicious!

    • wingsdjy - Jun 10, 2013 at 4:57 PM

      Have you ever met anyone that doesn’t like parfaits?

  18. pastabelly - Jun 10, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    Well, according to Vegas, the Blackhawks are heavy betting favorites to win the series at -145 (Bruins at +135). So, the smart guys out there think the Blackhawks will break through the layers.

    • amityvillefun - Jun 10, 2013 at 6:19 PM

      The “smart guys” said the same thing about Pittsburgh too.

  19. blackhawksdynasty - Jun 10, 2013 at 5:39 PM

    Sad to see so many (though not all) Boston fans come out of the gate looking like the champions of trash talking. I was hoping for a respectful and admirable showing from both sides, but to no avail.

    To Bruins fans puffing our their respective chests, predicting domination and an easy 4-0 or 4-1 victory:
    Boston has yet to play against a complete team. Each opponent has had a major flaw. Chicago doesn’t. This will be a much bigger challenge than you’re expecting.

    To my fellow realistic and respectful hockey fans in Boston: Congrats for your team’s accomplishments thus far. I look forward to a great Original 6 match-up of two championship caliber teams.

    Best of luck to both teams.

    LET’S DROP THE PUCK ALREADY!!!!

    • pastabelly - Jun 10, 2013 at 6:21 PM

      blackhawksdynasty – Jun 10, 2013 at 5:39 PM
      Boston has yet to play against a complete team. Each opponent has had a major flaw. Chicago doesn’t. This will be a much bigger challenge than you’re expecting.
      ====================================================================

      I call BS on this one. Where are these Boston sweep or 5-game series predictions?

      By the way, what is Pittsburgh’s major flaw? Other than putting up a stinker in game two, the series was tight. Pittsburgh lost because they couldn’t put the puck in the net. Are you suggesting that their offense has a major flaw? How many opposing teams could hold them scoreless in 15 power plays? The Bruins won by shutting down a strength and not by exposing a flaw. Yes, this could be a great series. We’ll see.

    • amityvillefun - Jun 10, 2013 at 6:29 PM

      Total respect for the Blackhawks from a Bruins fan. In fact, they may be my second favorite team. People talk trash because it’s fun for them, it isn’t anything personal unless you are from Vancouver or Montreal. From what I saw, the Pittsburgh fans were talking it up pretty good before they faced the Bruins.

      Any intelligent hockey fan is going to know that the Hawks are going to be a challenge for the Bruins. It should be a great series. The Bruins are playing at the top of their game (which hasn’t been the case for much of their season) while the Hawks dominated the regular season and are quite scary.

      I think the difference for the Bruins will be if Chara plays to his full potential, if Rask continues to play like he has force fields up, and if Krejci opts to shoot more than pass. Chicago’s offense is different than Pittsburgh. They actually go into corners without urinating themselves and have skill enough to put the puck home too.

      This could be the best Stanley Cup finals we will see in our lifetime. Go Bruins!!!

      • davidmessina63 - Jun 11, 2013 at 1:27 PM

        I’m from Boston and I 100% agree with your post.

    • hammerhead5573 - Jun 10, 2013 at 7:33 PM

      @dynasty, I suspect though that some of the guys are not even Bruins fans but just haters of the Hawks. It is what it is. There will be plenty of commenters from both teams coming on here and predicting this that and the other thing. If you re-call some commenters were saying the Hawks better get the golf clubs out, when they were down 3 games to 1 against the Wings. I’m sure the same things was being said from Pitt fans before that series started against the B’s. In the end, neither of these teams will quit and that is what made both of them get to this point. If the Hawks or Bruins lose in 7, there is no dishonor in that. It means both teams put everything they had on the line for 7 games. At least that is what I am hoping for

  20. thebigtim2012 - Jun 10, 2013 at 6:14 PM

    I think the team that scores more goals than the other guy will win. That being said this is a dream matchup for the NHL coming off the lockout. Should be some amazing hockey

  21. tripps3 - Jun 10, 2013 at 6:15 PM

    Yes – just like they did with LA

  22. crusty14 - Jun 10, 2013 at 6:28 PM

    This really should be a great series! Chicago is somewhat like Pitt , but has better d (I’m not that sold on crawford though). Boston is a lot like the kings, but has better scoring abilities.
    Can’t wait for wednesday ! Go B’s Go !

    • alexbaymac - Jun 10, 2013 at 10:17 PM

      I agree! It will be a great series !!!
      I’ll grab one part of your comment “I’m not that sold on crawford though”: after the soft over-time goals last year against the Yotes, Crawford seemed to be crowned the Softie King but this year, he passed that ‘crown’ over to Quick. JQ made some amazing saves, as expected, but gave up more soft goals than Crow did, definitely NOT expected…even by many Hawks fans. Not to say Crawford didn’t give up ANY soft goals this year, but very few (see against Detroit game 5) & Quick had several just against Chicago. Long live the (new) King!

  23. LampyB - Jun 10, 2013 at 11:38 PM

    I like how Hawks fans and a lot of the media keep dishing out credit for knocking the Kings out. Same as the B’s with Pitt. Both Pitt + LA were terrible last round, couldnt buy a goal. Neither series was that impressive off of paper.

  24. fallen737 - Jun 11, 2013 at 12:43 AM

    Chicago has a dominant penalty kill that can’t seem to be beaten. they don’t win every game based on the power play. they win because they have so much depth and every line is threatening just like Boston. personally the hawks are a transition type team and Pittsburgh has poor d and can’t transition like the hawks can. a key difference is the bruins had an issue against Toronto’s speed which the hawks also have. it’ll be a tough series but I feel the hawks will win in 5 or 6

  25. ssttvv - Jun 11, 2013 at 3:03 AM

    Both Boston and Chicago are conducting a sort of trap style defense in there own zone. The penguins and kings were poorly coached. They should have attempted more shots from the point once they gained the zone. More of the posession gains in the corner should have been worked to the point for shots!

  26. deacon272 - Jun 11, 2013 at 8:08 AM

    It all boils down to speed, defense, and heart. Don’t hate the Bruins, but they’re up against the best Hawks team I’ve ever seen – better than 2010 and as far back as the mid ’50s when I started going to games.

    Good luck to Boston and the Hawks, both. However, if the Bruins do win it, they will have pulled it out of their “where the sun don’t shine!” ‘s.

  27. jrhawk - Jun 11, 2013 at 8:52 AM

    Headline looks kinda biased to me.
    You don’t think the Hawks have layers? If you watched a few of their games, maybe the headline would read: “Can Bruins and Hawks break thru EACH OTHER’s layers?”
    Nothing worse than biased reporting.
    Except biased play-by-play commentary.

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