Chicago’s third and fourth lines gain scoring spotlight in tight series.

BOSTON – Coming into the Stanley Cup Final, the high-powered offense of the Chicago Blackhawks was expected to lead the scoring as they had in the first three rounds of the playoffs.  While there is balance across all four highly-mobile lines, scoring has largely come from the third and fourth waves of the Chicago attack.

Michal Handzus creates havoc in from of Tuukka Rask.

Michal Handzus creates havoc in from of Tuukka Rask.

in the first three rounds of the playoffs, the first line (Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa) and the second line (Bryan Bickell, Michal Handzus and Patrick Kane) contributed 33 goals and 44 assists with a +30 rating in 19 games.  However, in the first two games of the Final, the top two lines have just one goal and three assists with a -2 rating, not what a team expects of their regular season and early playoff snipers.

Thankfully and surprisingly, though, the other two lines have stepped in to provide the offense.  The third line (Brandon Saad, Dave Bolland and Andrew Shaw) and the fourth line of (now with Victor Stalberg replacing Brandon Bollig), Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik.  In the first three rounds, these two lines accounted for 12 goals and 19 assists with a -4 rating.  In the first two games of the Final, they have tallied 3 goals and four assists with a +7 rating.

The change in source of where the scoring has come from is remarkable and likely reveals Boston’s lack of concern for the lesser threats early in the series.  This certainly changes now as any Blackhawk skater is a threat.  

Boston continues to play their game attempting to dictate the way the game will be played.  Chicago remains firm in their disciplined approach of rolling out all four lines consistently strong and mobile for their widespread attack.

Patrick Sharp battles for position in front of the Boston net.

Patrick Sharp battles for position in front of the Boston net.

Game three should continue to show how evenly matched these two teams are.  Tonight, though, Boston has home ice and this will pose a challenge for Chicago who has not played at the TD Bank Garden in nearly two seasons.

Game three is set for Monday night and the puck drops at 8:00 PM ET.

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