First off, congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks and their fans on a well-deserved Stanley Cup victory. It's rare that we see one dominant team for the entire season and playoffs, and the Blackhawks were just that this year. They had to go through a couple of bumps in the road along the way and were in a couple of rough spots, but for the most part, they handled all of their opponents well and just ran them over at even strength. To make things even better, some of the teams they ran over were very good possession clubs like Detroit, Los Angeles and Boston was their latest victim. The Hawks may have not been the even strength power house that the LA Kings were last year, but they were still an elite team and cup favorites for a good reason.
With all of that being said, the Bruins managed to give them a good fight and it took Boston giving up two goals in 17 seconds for the Hawks to get the job done in Game 6, so this didn't come easy. The Bruins actually had a decent chance of pulling off an upset despite being inferior at even strength because they had better goaltending and special teams. That was enough to win them a Cup two years ago against Vancouver and there was a reasonable chance of it happening again with Tuukka Rask playing out of his mind and Chicago's power play being dreadful. The better even strength club prevailed in the end, though.
Oddly enough, special teams were the reason why the Blackhawks won Game 6 and it all relates to lack of execution on the Bruins part. They had a few chances to put this game away early, but let Chicago hang around for too long. Eventually that came back to haunt them and the Hawks took home their second Stanley Cup in four years.
Stanley Cup Finals Game 6
The Bruins came ready to play and dominated the Hawks in the first period, but they could only get one goal past Corey Crawford. This isn't so much of a big deal when you have a goaltender like Rask to lean on, but letting the Hawks hang around really came back to haunt them in this game. Not scoring on all four of their power plays in the first two periods also played a big factor because special teams was the one area where they had an advantage over the Bruins. To make matters worse, the goal they gave up in the second period was essentially a shorthanded tally since it came right as one of the Bruins power plays expired.
One thing the Hawks have specialized in this year is putting away their opponents in the third period. The Bruins managed to take the lead, but they let the Hawks hang around after that and it eventually cost them. Chicago has too much elite talent on their roster for teams to sit on leads against them, so this was somewhat of a predictable outcome when you look at how much the Bruins were outchanced after the first period.
Blackhawks Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forwards: Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw & Dave Bolland +4
Worst EV Forward: Michal Handzus -3
Best EV Defenseman: Michal Rozsival +3
Worst EV Defenseman: Duncan Keith -3
Getting the most out of your depth players goes a long way in the post-season and the Hawks got a great performance out of their bottom-six in this game. Some of their best forwards had off-nights for their standards, so having guys like Shaw, Bolland & Frolik step up was pretty big. I also commend the Hawks for employing a bottom-six and a fourth line that can actually play rather than filling it with goons like some teams do. Kruger, Frolik & Stalberg are all skilled players who can kill penalties if needed and their contributions definitely helped Chicago win this series. Having solid depth on their blue line in the form of Michal Rozsival also helped a lot.
Bruins Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Tyler Seguin +3
Worst EV Forwards: Milan Lucic & Nathan Horton -4
Best EV Defensemen: Zdeno Chara & Dennis Seidenberg +!
Worst EV Defensemen: Johnny Boychuk & Andrew Ference
Zdeno Chara has taken a lot of heat for his play in this series and being on the ice for a lot of Chicago goals and he didn't have his best game here. He made a bad read on the puck which led to Jonathan Toews' goal and he he failed to make a play on the puck on Bryan Bickell's game-tying goal in the third period. That being said, Chara wasn't the biggest problem Boston had on defense. That would be their second defense pairing of Johnny Boychuk & Andrew Ference. These two were eaten alive by the Hawks second and third line all series and it was only fitting that both of them looked completely lost on Dave Bolland's game-winning goal. Boston's defensive depth was questionable coming into this series and it proved to be a huge factor in Game 6.
Even with Ference & Boychuk's own problems, I still have a hard time placing all of the blame on Boston's defense because the Bruins created only nine even strength scoring chances. That kind of offensive production simply isn't going to get the job done. When your third line is creating half of your team's even strength offense then you know you have problems. Although, some of this isn't completely their fault because Patrice Bergeron was playing through a bad injury and Jaromir Jagr was also hurt. So the Bruins were basically playing without their second line and that hurts more than just the Bruins offense. Due to Bergeron not being at 100%, Claude Julien did not match him up against Jonathan Toews, using David Krejci's line against them instead. Despite their bad scoring chance numbers, this matchup itself didn't end up as badly as it could have been.
Head-to-Head at Five-to-Five
Krejci has been dominated by Toews all series, but he actually handled him well in Game 6. The problem was that Krejci's line got crushed by Chicago's bottom-six and that simply can not happen. Chicago's depth also outplayed the Bruins bottom-two lines in head-to-head play and they also crushed Boychuk & Ference. Chicago's fourth line is better than most clubs but even they shouldn't outchance a top-four defense pairing by this much.
Chicago's second defense pairing of Niklas Hjalmarsson & Johnny Oduya also kept Krejci's line in check. Brent Seabrook & Duncan Keith didn't have a great series, so the play of these two was huge for Chicago's defense.
|1||BOS||12:41||Kelly – GOAL||16||36||67||2||7||50||19||23||20||47||54||40||5v5|
|2||CHI||15:36||Toews – GOAL||19||65||88||27||32||50||23||49||20||33||44||40||5v5|
|3||BOS||7:49||Lucic – GOAL||19||88||29||2||4||50||46||18||17||33||44||40||5v5|
|3||CHI||1:16||Bickell – GOAL||19||26||88||29||2||7||46||18||17||33||44||40||EN|
|3||CHI||0:59||Bolland – GOAL||16||36||67||4||27||50||46||18||17||21||55||40||5v5|