Top 5 differences with playoff Bruins

Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask makes a glove save in the third period against the Chicago...

Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask makes a glove save in the third period against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 3 of their NHL Stanley Cup Finals hockey series in Boston, Massachusetts, June 17, 2013. (REUTERS)

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:25 PM ET

Differences between the first-round Bruins and the Stanley Cup finalist version.

1. Tuukka Time

The Finnish goaltender was ordinary at times during the Toronto series, prompting criticism that the Bruins wouldn't be able to win a Cup without a netminder comparable to Tim Thomas.

Rask has been brilliant since, clearly outplaying Corey Crawford in the Chicago net through the first three games of the final. (With that in mind, the talk after Game 1 of Crawford being Canada's Olympic goalie for Sochi sure has died down.)

With superb rebound control, Rask is essentially the anchor of the team's defensive approach and leads all playoff goaltenders in wins (14), goals-against average (1.64) and save percentage (.946).

2. Coach's Corner

As there always seems to be in these parts when the Bruins struggle, Boston coach Claude Julien may well have been on the hot seat if it weren't for that dramatic Game 7 win.

You could argue, as well, that in the Toronto series he was outcoached by Leafs counterpart Randy Carlyle who had a plan and got every ounce out of every player to almost make it happen.

But as the playoffs have moved along, Julien has pushed all the right buttons on a veteran-heavy roster. The team has played with more consistency and Chicago's Joel Quenneville has been losiong the battle of the matchups.

3. Killer B's

Led by Patrice Bergeron up the middle and Zdeno Chara on the back end, the Bruins PK has been killer, keeping the opposition off the scoresheet for 27 consecutive attempts. In the 10 power plays the Hawks have had this series, they've barely managed shots on net, never mind goals.

With Boston's domination in the faceoff circle, it's getting that much more difficult for the Hawks to generate some traction.

The only team that had success against the unit was the Leafs, who had five goals with the extra man.

While both the Bruins and Hawks are strong on the penalty kill, the edge in special teams is clearly in the B's corner.

4. The Beast

For much of the Toronto series, Milan Lucic was ordinary. The Leafs did little to rile up the big-bodied winger and that was a good thing.

But in that memorable third period of Game 7, Lucic became the physical force that makes him most effective. Lucic had a goal and assist in that game and has seen his role continue to be significant since skating on the top Bruins line with David Krejci and Nathan Horton.

In Game 2 of the final, it was almost as if Chicago players didn't want to go anywhere near Lucic when they could hear him coming.

5. Whose on Third?

When Julien created the third line of Tyler Seguin, Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille in Game 2 of the series, he was on to something.

On Tuesday, the coach talked about the reality of today's NHL demanding production from a third unit and this trio is doing just that, providing three of the past four goals and two game winners.

Seguin, who was invisible in the Toronto series, is suddenly showing some hustle and creating room and opportunities for his linemates. Paille, for example, has scored four goals in the playoffs and three have been game winners.

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca

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