Three keys for Hawks and Bruins

CHICAGO --The keys to victory for the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night in Game 2:


1 -- The little things: The Bruins are a detail-oriented team, as well prepared by the coaching staff as any squad in the league. When they're at their best, they're about the sum of their parts, every player focused on his specific task, short shifts, smart decisions with the puck, proper line changes and so on. Coach Claude Julien felt that while his team played a strong game in the opener, it was a little loose in some areas.

"We had a couple bad line changes. Little details in games make a big difference," Julien said Saturday morning. "A lot of it is more about little details. So it's nothing major, things that are easily correctable. We just have to have better focus tonight on those little details and hopefully swing the pendulum our way."

2 -- Bring down the Hawks' shot meter: Boston allowed Chicago a staggering 132 shots at net in Game 1, with 63 of them on goal in the triple-overtime affair. No question many of those shots were of the perimeter fashion, but the fact is, if Chicago had 132 shot attempts to 85 for Boston, it meant the Blackhawks were in control of the puck a lot more than the Bruins. Spending more time in the Hawks' zone in Game 2 would go a long way in bringing down Chicago's shot arsenal.

3 -- Defend point shots with better coverage: Both the tying goal and the triple-overtime winner were point shots redirected in. For as much as the Bruins have received a ton of offense from their blue-line corps in these playoffs, Game 1 was a reminder that Chicago has defensemen who are equally able to chip in offensively. Give them too much ice at the point and they will find a way to get a puck toward the net.


1 -- Stabilize the forward line combinations: Coach Joel Quenneville has demonstrated time and time again that he's comfortable switching up his forward lines midgame. He certainly did that in Game 1, throwing things into a blender early, in part because he felt he needed a quick answer to slow down David Krejci's top line for Boston, which was on fire in Game 1. Now that the Hawks have seen the Bruins up close for the first time in nearly two years, my sense is that the Hawks can settle down with their line combinations, which will help bring some continuity to their game.

"It was six periods, so we got a pretty good assessment of what they're up to," Quenneville said of the Bruins. "We'll see. I think we got a little bit more comfortable with our own line rotation as we were going along. I think every game is different. We know we're playing a real good team here. We got to be at our best. Every game is different. I think the lines right now look like they were for most of the regular season."

The lines at the pregame skate Saturday morning were the same as what ended Game 1:

Saad - Toews - Hossa
Sharp - Handzus - Kane
Bickell - Bolland - Shaw
Bollig - Kruger - Frolik

2 -- Protect the puck: The Bruins enjoyed some success on the counterattack off Chicago turnovers in Game 1, the Hawks listed with 18 giveaways in the opener compared to only five for the Bruins. You saw what happened in the Eastern Conference finals when the Penguins turned the puck over. The Hawks need to make better decisions in the neutral zone with the puck.

3 -- Much-maligned power play needs to generate chances: I documented a few days ago that power plays weren't really a factor in helping Boston (2011) and Los Angeles (2012) win Stanley Cups, but Chicago's man advantage has been so bad there's a risk of deflating the team if it's not at least generating chances. It's OK not to score as long as the Blackhawks are still testing Tuukka Rask.

Captain Jonathan Toews is hopeful the power play can wake up.

"For sure, we're always optimistic," he said Saturday morning. "There's some little things we want to change. It comes down to competing and winning draws and getting shots."

That's been a point of focus the past few days.

"Just little tweaks. I'm not going to elaborate," said Toews.