Game 1's thrills will be difficult to match

Chicago Blackhawks' Brandon Saad takes part in a team practice for the NHL Stanley Cup final in...

Chicago Blackhawks' Brandon Saad takes part in a team practice for the NHL Stanley Cup final in Chicago Friday. (REUTERS/Jim Young)

ROB LONGELY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:19 PM ET

CHICAGO - Now that they've gotten the first date out of the way, will the Hawks and Bruins be as attractive as they were in Game 1?

The feeling out process in Wednesday night’s Stanley Cup final opener was a marathon, a dramatic and eye-catching curtain-raiser that stretched into a sixth period before Chicago finally prevailed.

But as exciting and fast-paced as Game 1 was, is it too much to ask for a repeat both in style and speed for Game 2, set for Saturday night at the United Center?

"It was good, great tempo, a great game for the fans," Hawks winger David Bolland said following practice Friday morning. "There were pucks flying back and forth. Things never slowed down.

"And that type of game suits us."

But does it suit the Bruins? And if it doesn't, might they try to tone things down a little for round two? You can certainly make the argument that returning to the shutdown style they employed in their sweep of the Penguins could be more effective.

In the 10 games since the 5-4 overtime win over the Leafs in Game 7 of their opening-round series, the Bruins have surrendered more than two goals just twice. One of those, of course, was Wednesday's opener when the Hawks were able to use their speed-and-stretch game to dictate the flow.

There's a decent chance Bruins coach Claude Julien will try to stifle that tempo in Game 2, especially since the Hawks have an edge in high-end talent as well as depth.

Wednesday, the Bruins were able to shut down Chicago's top lines, but the bottom-six forwards came through in a big way. Boston, meanwhile, didn't get much from that element of their lineup and Julien was essentially reduced to three lines in overtime.

The only Bruins opponent who has been close to as quick as them in these playoffs was the Maple Leafs, and we saw what their forecheck did to the Bruins at times. Since that dramatic Game 7 win, Boston had lost just once since the Leafs series.

"We knew they had a lot of speed, but it doesn't help when we turn pucks over at our blueline," Bruins defenceman Dennis Seidenberg said. "That's when (the Hawks) are dangerous because they have so much speed on the outside with their wingers."

With two days to analyze video and get a clearer understanding of what worked and what didn't in Game 1, expect both teams to tinker with their approach in the follow-up to the thrilling opener. And given that each has reason to believe they deserved the victory the other night, it's almost like starting over.

The Hawks ultimately got the winning bounce on Andrew Shaw's overtime deflection, a fluke conclusion to a game full of high-end plays. The Hawks had carried the play for much of the night and had an edge in shots.

The Bruins had built a two-goal lead 6:09 into the third period and, despite having the game dictated to them at times, had more quality scoring chances in overtime where they held a 29-24 edge in shots on goal.

The Bruins became just the third team in NHL history to lose Game 1 of a Stanley Cup Final after holding a two-goal lead in the third period.

"We lost the game so there are some little adjustments we've got to make," Bruins centre and playoff leading scorer David Krejci said. "That's their game. They have great moving defenceman. We kind of expected it (to be fast)."

Obviously, the Hawks wouldn't mind a similar type game to the opener, especially if they can pump three or more behind goaltender Tuukka Rask.

"Definitely the pace was high and I think that's something we want to try to use to our advantage," Hawks defenceman Duncan Keith said. "Use our speed and push the pace.

"They've got a lot of good skaters on their team as well, but we certainly don't mind that style of game."

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca

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