Stanley Cup 2013: Blackhawks depth outlasts Bruins in Game 1

CHICAGO – Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien seemed incredulous when he heard the question, something about what a factor Andrew Shaw is in their game preparation.

“I don’t think we do our game planning around Mr. Shaw,” Julien said.

Hey, at least he didn’t call him Player 65.

Actually, it’s probably best that Julien referred to Shaw as Mr. After all, when you score goals this big, they call you Mr. Or, they should. In any event, that Shaw ended the fifth-longest overtime game in the history of the NHL final should have come as no surprise. As star-studded as the Blackhawks are, this was a game that belonged to their lesser lights. Brandon Saad, David Bolland, Johnny Oduya and Shaw were the goal-scorers and Bolland might have been the best player on the ice in all three zones.

About the only thing Shaw messed up all night was his post-game interview with Pierre McGuire of NBC. Probably not the best time to drop an F-bomb, what with the interview being on national television and all. Luckily, it came late enough that it didn’t violate any broadcast standards.

“Slip of the tongue,” he said. “I couldn’t think at all actually. Could barely breathe. I think I made up a word in there, too, actually. I was never good in English.”

Much will be made of Shaw’s tip of Bolland’s tip of Michal Rozsival’s shot at 12:08 of the third overtime period, but the play Shaw made on Bolland’s third period goal to cut the Bruins lead to 3-2 was even more impressive. After holding up at the blueline so his linemates could get onside, Shaw showed incredible patience and poise with the puck, dishing it off to Bolland for a one-timer that beat Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.

“Especially with us being down 3-1, that’s not an ideal situation,” said Hawks winger Patrick Sharp. “But Shawsy was able to spark us as he has all year, whether it’s with a fight or a big hit or the great pass he made there.”

The Hawks were so depleted after the victory that if you had walked into their dressing room without having watched the game, you would have had no way of knowing whether they had won or lost. Hawks goalie Corey Crawford, who was spectacular in overtime, slumped in his stall and could only wave his hand to decline an energy bar offered to him by one of the trainers. He then buried his head in his hands before bending down to untie his skates.

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The Hawks depth was able to outlast the Bruins in this game. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville had no problem throwing his fourth line over the boards for a regular shift in all three overtime periods and while it might not have given the Blackhawks as many quality chances as the Bruins had in extra time, their top players did not get ground down as the battle of attrition wore on. The Bruins, meanwhile, were forced into shortening their bench after Nathan Horton left the game late in the first overtime period. Horton did not return and appeared to be clutching his forearm after being hit by a shot, but did not display any ill effects walking out of the United Center after the game.

Still, though, a guy such as Shawn Thornton, who can usually play a regular shift without hurting you, played just 9:55 on the night, while Bollig played 14:24. Kaspars Daugavins played 15:09, while Michal Frolik played 18:33, including almost two minutes shorthanded. When your fourth liners can give you those kinds of hard minutes, it gives a team an enormous advantage.

If Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final is any indication, this series has the makings of a classic. Going back to Game 5 of the Western Conference final, the Blackhawks last two games have lasted 91:40 and 112:08.

“You’re just trying to stay hydrated, getting everything in you and getting as much water into you as you can,” Bolland said of what the Blackhawks did between periods. “We got some coconut water, it’s called CoCo5. By that sixth period, guys were cramping up and each time you’re going up the ice, your legs are just jelly and you can’t move. Being hydrated is probably the main thing.”

Judging by the way Game 1 went, the Blackhawks might want to run down to the convenience store and buy it out of CoCo5 before Game 2 Saturday night.

THN’s Three Stars
1. Andrew Shaw: Actually went after Zdeno Chara early, scored the overtime winner and earned an assist on the goal that got the Blackhawks back into the game.

2. David Bolland: Played his best game in years. Stopped three or four certain goals in overtime and made heads-up play after heads-up play. Did so many little things well we lost count.

3. Milan Lucic: Was in on all three of the Bruins goals with two goals and an assist and had a number of opportunities to get a hat trick.