Special teams will be big factor in Stanley Cup final

CHICAGO — When it comes to power plays in the Stanley Cup finals, the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins might just prefer to keep going with everyone on the ice. The last two teams in the NHL playoffs have been lousy with the man advantage and terrific at killing penalties during the post-season.

CHICAGO — When it comes to power plays in the Stanley Cup finals, the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins might just prefer to keep going with everyone on the ice.

The last two teams in the NHL playoffs have been lousy with the man advantage and terrific at killing penalties during the post-season.

When the Blackhawks are forced to play a man down, Michael Frolik and Marcus Kruger are so persistent it almost resembles an even-strength situation. And the Bruins have hulking defenceman Zdeno Chara and goalie Tuukka Rask, who is swallowing everything at the net these days.

Heading into Game 1 on Wednesday night, goals on special teams have been so scarce for these teams that a couple for either side could tip the series in one direction.

“The special teams are kind of key, if you want to (have) success,” Frolik said after Chicago held an optional practice on Monday. “We try to talk about it all the time about that and make sure we’re on the same page. It’s especially going to be key right now. We’ve got to make we are ready for the challenge.”

So far, so good on that front for the Bruins and Blackhawks. With Frolik and Kruger tying up the action on top of the zone, Chicago has allowed just three goals in 58 power-play opportunities for an astounding 94.8 per cent kill rate. Los Angeles got two of them in the Western Conference finals, but one was a meaningless goal by Tyler Toffoli at the very end of the Blackhawks’ 4-2 victory in Game 2.

The 92.5 per cent finish for the 2000 New Jersey Devils is the best playoff rate for a Stanley Cup champion in the last 25 years, according to STATS.

“I think they do a good job of fronting shots,” Boston coach Claude Julien said of Chicago’s penalty killers. “You really have to work hard to get the shots through. That’s what they are, they’re very patient; they’re very aggressive when you do lose, I guess, control of the puck and if they feel they can get on you, they’ll get on you quick. They’ve done a good job that way.”

Pittsburgh had converted an NHL-best 28.3 per cent of its power-play chances heading into the Eastern Conference finals against Boston, but the high-powered Penguins went 0 for 15 with the man advantage during the Bruins’ impressive four-game sweep.

One of the lasting images from Boston’s post-season run came with Pittsburgh on the power play in the second period of Game 3. Bruins forward Gregory Campbell broke his right leg when he dove to block Evgeni Malkin’s hard shot, then limped around for more than 30 seconds until Boston cleared the zone and he was able to get off the ice.

Campbell’s gutsy display served as inspiration for the Bruins, and they went on to finish off the Penguins with a 1-0 victory on Friday. But Campbell will miss the remainder of the playoffs, presenting a challenge for the series against Chicago.

“It just means some other guys have to step in and do the job,” Julien said. “(Campbell) is an elite penalty killer for us. Like anything else, when you lose a player like that it certainly hurts your team. But at the same time, there’s also guys that come up and step up and do a great job just like our young Ds did when our three Ds were hurt.”

When it comes to scoring on Boston, whether it’s even strength or on the power play, the last line of defence may be the most difficult one to solve. Rask has been terrific throughout the playoffs, making an NHL-best 497 saves.

Just Posted

Updated: Red Deer welcomes 2019 Canada Winter Games Team Alberta

About 250 Alberta athletes are participating in the Games

Syrian immigrants feel welcomed

Winter Social held at Festival Hall to promote multiculturalism

Small group rallies with pro-immigration message

Group wanted to counter misinformation on United Nations migration agreement

Trump says ‘things are going very well’ with North Korea

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Saturday that “things are going very… Continue reading

NDP won’t stop until Trans Mountain is built, says minister

Deron Bilous speaks at Red Deer chamber luncheon

VIDEO: Students in MAGA hats mock Native American at Indigenous Peoples March

Diocese in Kentucky says it is investigating the matter, caught on video by onlookers

CONSUMER REPORT: What to buy each month in 2019 to save money

Resolve to buy all of the things you want and need, but pay less money for them

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Kriechmayr edges Swiss favourite Feuz to win WCup downhill

WENGEN, Switzerland — It takes a special run to beat Switzerland’s best… Continue reading

WestJet plane heading to Victoria slides off Edmonton runway, no injuries

EDMONTON — A WestJet plane has slid off an icy taxiway at… Continue reading

Sam Bennett scores twice, Flames beat Red Wings 6-4

Flames 6, Red Wings 4 CALGARY — Sam Bennett scored twice including… Continue reading

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Most Read