The Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins pick up the action Saturday night in Game 2 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. The United Center will be buzzing with excitement in anticipation of another great game between the two storied franchises.
Game 2 should continue to showcase Boston's defensive prowess and Chicago's speed and depth. As was the case in the first game of the series Wednesday, the game may be decided by some of the 'Hawks' lesser names.
Chicago's depth players outperformed their Boston counterparts on the way to a 4-3 triple-overtime win. Now up 1-0 in the best-of-seven series, what can fans expect in Game 2? Here are some things to watch for Saturday night.
Where's Nathan Horton?
Horton is officially listed as day-to-day after coming off the ice in the first overtime Wednesday. He has battled shoulder issues throughout the playoffs.
Horton skated at practice Friday. If he winds up in the lineup Saturday, the concern for Boston is whether or not he can skate his normal workload and how effective he can be.
Boston's top line has carried the scoring load in the postseason. If Horton is out, someone on the Bruins bench will have to step up. Tyler Seguin would look to be the skater to take Horton's spot.
According to ESPNChicago.com's Twitter feed, the lines at practice Friday were as follows:
Brandon Saad-Jonathan Toews-Marian Hossa
Patrick Kane-Michal Hadzus-Patrick Sharp
Bryan Bickell-Dave Bolland-Andrew Shaw
Michael Frolik-Marcus Kruger-Brandon Bollig
The names remain the same from Game 1, with the combinations resembling what the Blackhawks used at the conclusion of Wednesday's marathon.
The players are used to this configuration. The top line spent most of the early part of the 2013 schedule together, so chemistry won't be an issue.
Bollig again will take Viktor Stalberg's place in the lineup and be expected to carry a measure of physical play to the Bruins. Bollig, Bickell and Shaw accounted for 27 of Chicago's 61 hits Wednesday. Can the 'Hawks make those hits in the flow of the game and not get taken out of position?
Tempo Will Tell the Tale
If Boston tries to make Game 2 a track meet, the 'Hawks have to like their chances.
Chicago was able to get back into the game Wednesday with some hard forechecking. The Bruins will likely attempt to slow the game down while continuing to control the middle of the ice.
Second Chances Key For Blackhawks
I was impressed by Boston's ability to eliminate a lot of second-chance scoring opportunities in Game 1. Chicago skaters would get off a shot and then be forced into the corners more often than not as the game wore on.
The 'Hawks weren't able to capitalize on rebounds that came out well in front of the net. As a matter of fact, Boston would occasionally get to those loose pucks and start a rush the other way.
Following up on the rebounds Tuukka Rask allows may result in an extra goal or two for Chicago. The way Game 1 went, that could mean the difference between a regulation win and a couple of overtime periods.
A 2-0 series advantage guarantees nothing in a series that has not visited Boston as of yet. However, like the result of a long, hard Game 1, it's better to be on the winning end of things.