Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bruins vs. Blackhawks: Stuff To Look Out For

Tonight the Bruins break a 4-day gameless streak when they visit the Blackhawks for their only matchup this season. Here are a few threads to keep an eye on.

Don't Get Caught Looking: The Bruins, who are playing 4 of the other 5 teams from the Original Six in the next week, have some huge matchups on the schedule. Tomorrow night's game against Montreal will essentially be a grudge match for the division title, and games against the Rangers and Sabres also have major conference implications. It's a textbook setup for the Bruins to come out flat on the road, and get torched by a team in the middle of an important homestand.

Evenly Matched: All the buzz around this game is that the Bruins and Hawks are doppelgangers. Both are young, emerging squads playing for the hearts of their respective cities. Both are focused squarely on the playoffs and developing a winning attitude... with secret hopes that they're witnessing the birth of a dynasty. Both are dealing with an embarrasment of riches in goal. Both come into the game on a hot streak with a division lead within sniffing distance. But their styles are almost entirely opposite -- the Blackhawks have a run-and-gun team stocked with top-shelf talent. The Bruins play tooth-loosening defense and get their offense through depth and tenacity.

Home Cookin': The Blackhawks have not lost a regulation game at home this season (6-0-2). Then again, Boston ended the Sabres' undefeated road record last time they played. It'll be tougher tonight as the Blackhawks are retiring the #3 worn by Pierre Pilote (overdue) and Keith Magnuson. Ideally this would be a distraction, but the Blackhawks have been drawing huge crowds this season and the fans will be expecting a big game.

Matchups: Since they have the advantage on line changes, the Blackhawks will presumably match up their top line of Kane-Toews-Versteeg against the Bruins' 4th line of Thornton-Yelle-Kobasew when possible. I would advise them to do otherwise -- the 4th line has probably been Boston's best at keeping possession of the puck lately. The combination of faceoff prowess, intelligence, speed and hulking body mass have kept the puck squarely in the offensive end of the ice while the Bruins wear down opposing goalscorers. This has been a key... nay, a vital element of their recent success. If I'm Joel Quenneville, I'm matching my scorers against Boston's weaker third line of Sturm-Krejci-Wheeler.

Change Is in the Air?: These teams have a combined Cup drought of 83 years.

Other Previews:
Stanley Cup of Chowder
The Bear Cave
Cornelius Hardenburgh
Wicked Bruins Fan
Hub Hockey
Kynch's Bruins Korner

PS -- Vote for Timmy!

The campaign has begun to elect Tim Thomas to his rightful place in the All-Star game (he was left off the ballot despite currently leading the league in GAA and Save %). Don't forget to go to and vote for him. Blackhawks fans, we'd appreciate the support if you are going there to vote for your own guys... on the Eastern Conference section, just write in Timmy's name.

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Anonymous said...

AS a Blackhawk's fan i woll definetly vote for Thomas just u guys keep in mind Patrickk Sharp who despite being in fifth for most goals this season and 6 in points was left off the ballot

Tom said...

I'll remember to write him in on the WC section... the ballot this year is pitiful.