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Playoffs Tonight: Can ‘Hawks solve Rask?

Jun 19, 2013, 9:04 AM EDT

Game 4: Boston Bruins host Chicago Blackhawks (8:00 p.m. ET — NBC/Live Extra)
Boston leads series 2-1

Through three games, Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask has a 1.22 GAA and .959 save percentage in the Stanley Cup Final — so yeah, he’s been good.

Rask turned aside 28 consecutive shots in Game 3 to give the Bruins an edge in the series courtesy of a 2-0 victory. However, Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville doesn’t think that the problem is that Rask’s unbeatable.

“Tonight, I thought we made it rather easy on him,” Quenneville said after the contest.

Part of the Blackhawks’ offensive woes can be attributed to their struggles with the man advantage and at the faceoff circle.

“It’s tough to get a clean entry (versus Boston),” said Quenneville.

“It starts losing the draw initially. That’s the area we have to get better. Hopefully, you don’t have to resort to the entry.”

It also doesn’t help that captain Jonathan Toews has now gone 10 playoff games without a goal.

“I think right now whether it’s him or our power play, offensively I think we’re all a little gun shy in that area,” said Quenneville.

“One thing with Johnny, you can always measure how he’s going to be competing, because game in, game out he leaves it out there. Offensively maybe pressing in that area.”

Of course, it’s not like the Boston Bruins aren’t dealing with similar issues. They’ve won their last two games despite the fact that David Krejci, Nathan Horton, and Milan Lucic were all held off the scoresheet in both contests.

Those three forwards got the Bruins this far with their offensive contributions, but what’s separated the Blackhawks and Bruins recently has been their third lines. Tyler Seguin, Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille meshed well since being united in Game 2.

“They just seem to be working well together,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “A lot of credit goes to them. I’m just a little ticked off that I didn’t put them together sooner.”

All that being said, these two teams remain very evenly matched, especially if Marian Hossa is able to return from an upper-body injury.

Just as Rask was the hero in Game 3, Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford could be tonight. Or perhaps Toews or one of Chicago’s complimentary players will step up.

One thing is for sure though: The pressure if on Chicago to even the series tonight.

  1. pastabelly - Jun 19, 2013 at 9:20 AM

    “Tonight, I thought we made it rather easy on him,” Quenneville said after the contest.

    Correction- Bruins defense made it rather easy for him. Bergeron was a monster on faceoffs and Seidenberg played his best game of the playoffs. I don’t expect Quennville to give all of the credit to the Bruins, but there is another team out there. It’s not as if the Blackhawks can just exert their will on the Bruins, especially at TD Garden.

  2. ilikejay - Jun 19, 2013 at 9:35 AM

    Yes, I agree. But he is the coach of the Hawks, their leader, and he needs to say what he thinks is best for his players. That is job number one for him. Everybody watching this series knows Boston is the reason. They are facing a new monster unlike any faced so far this season, and they are stuck right now. It’s the coaches job to steer them through it the best he knows how. To get his talent to understand what needs doing. That is part of the chess game. Both excellent coaches, both excellent teams, Boston has momentum in more ways than one, but momentum can change, and that starts with coaching.

    • dropthepuckeh - Jun 19, 2013 at 10:01 AM

      I think you are right ilikejay, he does not want his players to build Tuuka up to mythic proportions and get in their heads (which may be happening anyway). It is funny though because it seems like the attitude on this board has been that the Bruins have only taken two games because of Tuuka and otherwise they are a mediocre team. Right Habsman? Obviously it is a combination of both the team defense and excellent goaltending. There is a reason Toews hasn’t scored and it isn’t because he hasn’t wanted to or hasn’t played hard. There is a reason the Blackhawks aren’t winning faceoffs and it isn’t because they forgot how to take the draw or were too tired or distracted. There is a reason the Hawks aren’t winning a lot of puck battles.

      Reason: The Bruins.

  3. jacketsfan7 - Jun 19, 2013 at 9:47 AM

    I agree , I think they’ll solve him once but not enough

    • greenmtnboy31 - Jun 19, 2013 at 10:26 PM

      Task isn’t the problem, these refs are awful.

  4. nhloon - Jun 19, 2013 at 9:53 AM

    Hopefully, the B’s keep up this Defense !!!!!

    So many times the Chicago D jumps up ice and the B’s layers are on display, furthermore coverage is not always there from the offensive players with Chicago.

    Bruins offense has been timely the last two games, would like to see last night repeated, tons of puck possession !!!!

    Kane looks miserable on ice. Toews is frustrated, there best forward has still been Bickell. Oduya is the only real weak link for Chi’s D, exploit him !

    A lot of odd man rushes for a Stanley cup game on Monday, here’s to another B’s team effort and a W !!

    Cheers from Beantown ! ! ! !

    • homelanddefense - Jun 19, 2013 at 11:28 AM

      you are right, there were a lot of odd man rushes. That Marchand breakaway where he lost the pick killed me.

    • tbd3 - Jun 19, 2013 at 12:35 PM

      The Hawks’ best forward has actually been Hossa.

      • polegojim - Jun 19, 2013 at 2:17 PM

        By far and away true!!!!

    • 19to77 - Jun 19, 2013 at 12:41 PM

      I don’t know, Leddy’s looked weak at points too.

  5. tripps3 - Jun 19, 2013 at 10:00 AM

    Not sure Rask is what the Hawks need to solve for – when they penetrated the offensive zone, they scored. I think the media should give more credit to the B’s defense than to Rask IMO.

  6. 8man - Jun 19, 2013 at 10:35 AM

    Despite Rask being so good, the Bruins have not been able to pull away in any of these games. They aren’t lighting the lamp a lot either. Important points to remember. 1. Crawford is a pretty damn good goalie as well. 2. The Hawks power play will not go 0 for the series. 3. It’s not likely that Boston will maintain such a huge edge in face off wins. 4. A win tonight and the Hawks are firmly in the driver’s seat.

    • bruininnh1984 - Jun 19, 2013 at 11:03 AM

      crawford is the only reason these games haven’t been blowouts. if it wasn’t for him, bruins would be up 3-0 going for the sweep tonight. i think it’s a real possibility that the hawks go 0-for the series on the pp; bruins pk is on another level right now, the only way the hawks might score on the pp is if bergeron or chara end up in the box. we all saw what the bruins did to the vaunted pittsburgh pp and they had the best pp in the playoffs. i think it’s a given that the bruins won’t be able to maintain a 70% advantage in the faceoff circle, but i can easily see them maintaining at least 60% because right now, the bruins are just playing on another level and it’s hard to argue against them tonight at least. if the bruins win tonight, the series is over. bruins won’t let chicago do to them what they did to detroit.

      • 8man - Jun 19, 2013 at 7:10 PM

        3-1 is huge for the team that only plays three games at home.

    • tbd3 - Jun 19, 2013 at 12:38 PM

      The PP won’t go oh-fer? Why not? It has been abysmal and the Bruins’ PK has been excellent. They blanked the Penguins’ power play, they can do it to the Hawks.

      The Hawks will firmly be in the driver seat if they win? The series will be 2-2. No one will be in the driver’s seat. If two teams are about to start a three game series, tied 0-0 because they haven’t played a game yet, is the team that plays at home twice in the driver’s seat? No.

  7. 19to77 - Jun 19, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    It’s not as simple as solving Rask. That’s only one problem. But to even get there you have to get possession, either off the draw (where Boston’s dominant) or by beating them to a loose puck, then get through their checking presence in the neutral zone, then through their defense, which is exceptional at cutting down the angle and forcing their opponents to take easy shots or miss the net. Before you even have a chance to think about solving the goalie, you have to solve the toughest defensive team in the League. All without giving up a chance the other way by being careless, or losing your composure and taking bad penalties because they play in your face.

  8. stoopidfool - Jun 19, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    1 goal or less in 8 of the last 10 games

    In order to beat rask, the hawks are going to have to beat everyone else first.

    It’s not because of rask that the hawks can barely get a shot off on PP

  9. tbd3 - Jun 19, 2013 at 12:39 PM

    Rask was unbeatable against the Penguins. The defense has been the driving force behind the lead in this series.

  10. adambballn - Jun 19, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    Hawks have been very good when the going gets tough… don’t expect to see the same Hawks team that didn’t show up for game 3. Hawks scored on Rask in game 1… they’re capable of doing it. I’m expecting to see one of the Hawks best games of the season tonight… if we don’t they’re likely done. I’m still expecting this series to go 7.

  11. sunderlanding - Jun 19, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    He’s been good, but the way Boston plays he doesn’t have to be great. All the shots are perimeter shots without a screen. Most goalies will make those saves. Thomas was better during his run. Rask hasn’t really stolen a game or made crazy highlight reel saves that we’ll see again and again. The best highlight reel save came from Chara in the semifinals. In my opinion the real Conn Smythe has been Bergeron, but defensive players never get enough credit.

  12. valoisjoeybfeld69 - Jun 19, 2013 at 4:18 PM

    To be a threat to Rask the Hawks O first has to get through the B’s D, which they failed to do last game.

  13. badgerbuck - Jun 19, 2013 at 6:12 PM

    This series was over the minute Boston won at Chicago, should be done by Saturday

    • jrhawk - Jun 20, 2013 at 8:13 AM

      Series was over in Chicago? Done by Saturday?
      Waiting for your “intelligent” comeback after last night’s game.

  14. greenmtnboy31 - Jun 19, 2013 at 10:29 PM

    Rask isn’t the problem. Could these refs be any more in the tank for Boston?

    No hooking call on Toews breakaway, but then they call hooking on Kane?

    Bruins bias becoming brazenly blatant.

  15. ilikejay - Jun 20, 2013 at 2:26 AM

    So now in hindsight we have a series. All you Hawk haters out there, have at least two more games to suffer through. The Hawks are not as physical, and are not as dominant defensively, or imposing, but they sure hang around don’t they? This has been one hell of a series. I have rewatched every game, and I personally think the games are not so lopsided, they are pretty even with a tilt to Boston. And I think Chicago has yet to find their groove. I give credit to an awesome Boston game, they really are jamming them up.

  16. ilikejay - Jun 20, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    Who are you talking too?

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