Depth pays off for Bruins, Blackhawks
CHICAGO – It hasn’t been all about the biggest stars for the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup finals. Depth is paying off for both teams.
“You can’t have passengers in these games,” Bruins Coach Claude Julien said.
When it comes to grabbing the wheel, it’s not just the usual suspects doing it. It’s players such as Chicago’s Andrew Shaw and Boston’s Daniel Paille stepping up and scoring winning goals in a series that’s been nothing short of wild.
Shaw had his moment in the opener, scoring on a double deflection after Michal Rozsival unleashed a shot from the point into traffic that also hit off teammate Dave Bolland.
In Game 2, it was Paille beating Corey Crawford glove side in overtime to give the Bruins a 2-1 victory and tie the series. He struck again in Game 3, falling to one knee for extra power as he scored the game’s first goal in a 2-0 win for Boston.
And in Game 4, it was defenseman Brent Seabrook firing a slap shot past Tuukka Rask in overtime as the Blackhawks beat the Bruins, 6-5, to tie the series.
“The top lines, whether they neutralize one another, the production might come from those second, third and fourth lines that somebody jumps up, scores a big goal,” Chicago Coach Joel Quenneville said. “Obviously scoring is not always high most nights. (Game 4) was kind of a fluke. But at the same time we don’t care who scores goals for us as long as we get some production. A lot of nights it could be any line that can score. We feel we’ve got some balance on our lines and all lines are capable of making plays and scoring. I think Boston has got a capable lineup.”
At 6-foot-9 and 255 pounds, Zdeno Chara can probably take care of himself. That didn’t stop the Bruins from defending their defenseman again yesterday.
The Blackhawks went right at him in Game 4 and made it clear they believed they found the right formula to deal with him in that 6-5 overtime win. Jonathan Toews even said they showed “a little bit too much respect” by trying to avoid him earlier in the series, and Bryan Bickell even said Chara doesn’t like getting hit.
“A lot of people have tried to figure out Zdeno,” Bruins Coach Claude Julien said. “People talk about five goals against. Were they all his fault? None of them were his fault, actually. We feel he’s one of our best players on the team. He’s one of the best defensive players in the league. I don’t think there are too many flaws in his game, but if they want to think that way, they’re entitled to it.”
Chara was on the ice for all but one of the Chicago’s goals and was a minus-3 for the game, tying a season worst.
“I think Z likes those situations where he’s under pressure, where the guys go at him, playing physically. It doesn’t matter what they do,” Boston’s Dennis Seidenberg said. “Whatever they think their game plan is, we have to respond to it and try to figure it out.”
Too much rest
There were two off days between Games 1 and 2 and Games 4 and 5 of the Stanley Cup finals, giving the Blackhawks and Bruins extra time to rest.
Bolland is not a big fan of the extra day between games.
“The extra day is a little bit of a pain,” he said. “You wait around. You wait for the next game. You start to get a little sluggish, just hanging around.
“But you do get to think about more of what happened in that game when you do have that extra day. So I think for myself I like having them back to back or every second day is always fun.”
Marian Hossa skipped the Blackhawks’ morning skate yesterday after missing practice the previous day, but Quenneville said he would be in the lineup. Hossa was a late scratch from Game 3 because of an upper body injury and had an assist in Game 4.
“He’s fine,” Quenneville said after the morning skate. “He’s going to play, and we’ll say he should be better.”