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Thirteen thoughts on Bruins/Blackhawks

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  June 14, 2013 02:30 PM

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... while having to constantly remind myself that Game 2 is Saturday, not Friday. Feels like it should be tonight, doesn't it?


1. The Bruins' first line of Nathan Horton, David Krejci and Milan Lucic features the top three scorers in the postseason, with 21 goals, 57 points, and a combined plus/minus of 51. Tyler Seguin leads the Bruins in postseason shots (62). He has one goal (1). That's a shooting percentage of 1.61290322580645 (not good).

2. Seguin seemed to get a little jump from playing on the first line after Horton's injury. But even if he suddenly finds some semblance of touch – he has a career 10.5 percent shooting percentage – it will be pretty close to devastating if "day to day" Horton misses more than a game. The Bruins can't afford further attrition, and for all of his talent, there are no indications that Seguin can replace him.

3. Biggest revelation to me from Game 1? That Corey Crawford is legit. I suppose there was ample statistical evidence of that -- he entered the Stanley Cup Final with a 1.74 goals-against average in the postseason -- but Tuukka Rask was so steady and sensational against the Penguins that it was impossible for a Bruins watcher to see him as anything but a significant advantage over just about any counterpart. Crawford was great and lucky in Game 1, stopping 51 shots, including 29 in the three overtimes. Rask was great and unlucky. But both are playing the position exceptionally well.

4. I'll admit to holding Crawford's pedigree, or lack thereof, against him. He's been a starter for three seasons. He was terrific this year, but last season, he did not crack the top 20 in save percentage or goals-against average. He never put up take-notice numbers during his five seasons in the AHL ...

... but the lesson that a goalie can gradually yet significantly improve over several seasons is one Bruins fans should already know well.

5. Dan Shaughnessy asked the question in his column this morning: will the Bruins' triple-overtime loss in Game 1 have the same deflating effect that Petr Klima's 3-OT winner in the opener of the 1990 Cup Final had then? Those Bruins, you may remember, went on to get swept by the Oilers. I say there's no chance. Those Oilers, led by 124-point scorer Mark Messier, were a force of nature, winning their fifth Cup in seven seasons. This series matches up two freakishly similar teams. Right now, I expect it to be a seven-game series, with roughly 42 total periods of hockey.

6. Seriously, hockeyphiles: where has Seguin's finishing touch gone? Is it mental? And is it me, or does he add unnecessary degrees of difficulty to the majority of his scoring chances?

7. Finally caught a replay of NBC's broadcast of Game 1. Mike Emrick, whose default status is greatness during any game and circumstance, actually seemed to get better on the call the deeper the game went into the night. The man is 66 years old, and he remains the hockey broadcaster equivalent of 1970-71 Bobby Orr. Amazing.

8.The Michael Jordan statue outside the United Center is sharp, and there's no doubt it ranks among the top photo-ops for Chicago tourists. But it's not the coolest artistic homage outside the building. The Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull statues are mesmerizing.

9. I've got no issue with the Chicago Tribune "taking back'' the Bruins aspect of its thoughtful tribute to Boston after the Marathon bombings. The original gesture was genuine, and this is all in good fun.

10. The atmosphere at Blackhawks games is one of the most electric I've ever experienced in person, particularly the pregame presentation, when the crowd roars through the singing of the National Anthem. Don't scold – it's a respectful tradition.

11. But the perception that it's always been this way here, that Blackhawks fans are loyal through and through, just isn't accurate. There was time in the '90s when their games weren't broadcast on local television. Tony Amonte, who played here from 1993-94 to 2001-02, told me there were sections of the building that were completely empty at times. Darren Pang remembered the same.

12. Despite his brutal turnover for the Blackhawks' second goal in Game 1, I hope the Bruins don't bury Torey Krug. He handled the situation with remarkable poise, and there were flashes of his dynamic offensive skills at times in the opener. But if I had to bet, I suspect Matt Bartkowski gets a shot Saturday night.

13. In Game 1, Johnny Boychuck, Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, and Andrew Ference combined for three hours and 37 seconds of ice time. All right, I guess that means the second day off between games is a good idea.

About Touching All The Bases

Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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