2. Shutting down the left side. Right wingers Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa are two of the most explosive players in hockey with open ice and a lane to the net; the Chicago snipers can and will do damage if given the opportunity. That’s where Big Z comes in; Boston’s behemoth captain, Zdeno Chara, is a left defensemen who will be tasked with putting a body on these two dangerous but considerably smaller forwards and keeping them away from the Boston goal. It’ll be a fascinating game-within-the-game each night as both coaches try to get the matchups they want on the ice.
3. Owning the dot. The loss of center Gregory Campbell to a broken leg notwithstanding, faceoffs are an area where the Bruins should be able to dominate. Patrice Bergeron is arguably the best in the NHL and his league-best winning percentage on draws during the playoffs (61 percent) proves that. Chris Kelly (59.5%) has also been terrific while David Krejci (46.8%)and Rich Peverley (64.4% in limited time, but increasing now that Campbell is out) can also win their fair share of battles. The Blackhawks’ pivots, including Jonathan Toews (53.1%) and Michal Handzus (47%), are serviceable, but far from automatic. The more draws Boston can win, the more time they’ll be able to control where and when the puck goes in all three zones.
4. No fear. When the Bruins faced Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference final, many pundits felt the Bruins might take the series 6 or 7 games before ultimately falling. Few selected Boston to actually defeat the Penguins, and no one saw them sweeping Sidney Crosby & Co. While the prognosticators have certainly come around heading into the Cup finals, few would argue the Blackhawks aren’t, on the whole, a more talented collection of players than their Black-and-Gold foes.