A lot of people felt that, the way the goaltenders were playing during the overtime periods in Game 1 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, we could still be playing the game right now if they had their druthers. Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins and Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks played one of the most incredible 4-3 games you'll ever see, both stopping shot after shot after shot. Only a crazy, double deflection to get by Rask could end the game, and give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead in the series.
After the customary two days off (the NHL traditionally plays its Final on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays), the two teams return for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final at United Center on Saturday night. They will, hopefully, be fresh and ready to go after nearly playing the equivalent of two consecutive games on Wednesday. Boston and Chicago both took Thursday off and held practices on Friday.
This is an important game in the Stanley Cup Final, statistically. Teams winning Game 2 of the Final have gone on to win the Stanley Cup in 55 of 73 years since the best-of-seven format began in 1939 (75.3 percent), including eight of the past 10 seasons. Also, the all-time record of home clubs sweeping Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Final is 32-3 (.914). However, two of those three losses happened in the last four years, when Pittsburgh (2009) and Boston (2011) lost the first two games of their series but rebounded to win a Stanley Cup.
The Blackhawks have won eight of their last nine games, and haven't lost at home since Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinal against the Detroit Red Wings. They also have a bit of statistical history on their side. There has not been a split of the first two games in the Stanley Cup Final since 2004, when Calgary took a game from Tampa Bay, though the Lightning still won the series. Bryan Bickell remains the hottest Blackhawk, with five goals and nine points in his last nine games.
Boston will likely have Nathan Horton -- who left Game 1 in the midst of overtime with an upper-body injury -- in the lineup for Game 2. You could tell the team started to tire a little quicker than Chicago did without their full complement of forwards on Wednesday. The hottest Bruin right now is Patrice Bergeron, who has five points in his last four games. Milan Lucic has six points in his last five.
Can Boston find a weakness in the Chicago penalty kill again?
Despite leading the league in penalty kill this postseason (57-for-61, or 93.4 percent), the Blackhawks have surrendered power-play goals in each of their last two games. Of course, it's worth noting that the power-play goal in question was scored when one of the Blackhawks' best penalty killers, Michael Frolik, was serving the penalty. That said, have the Bruins found a way to beat the Hawks' PK? Or did they just get lucky with the circumstance of Chicago using an inferior version of their penalty kill?
Will Corey Crawford again get the better of Tuukka Rask?
Both goaltenders played a hell of a game on Wednesday night, but many would be hard-pressed to say that despite his victory, Corey Crawford was better than Tuukka Rask. Rask stopped 59 shots to Crawford's 51, though Boston outshot Chicago in overtime, 29-24. It'll be interesting to see how both goaltenders rebound specifically and whether or not Crawford rides a performance like this to a potential Conn Smythe-type series.
Any chance we avoid OT again tonight?
I mean, these two clubs are both incredibly talented and incredibly well-matched. The Blackhawks' bottom six forwards are a little better, and the Bruins' defensive depth is a little better, but otherwise ... it's so hard for either team to find an advantage. I highly doubt we've seen the last of overtime in this series.