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Stanley Cup Finals Will Come Down To Goaltending Battle

Posted by Don Melrose on 6/12/2013 7:19:36 PM

When the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, it was goalie Tim Thomas that took home Conn Smythe honors as the MVP of the playoffs. Fast-forward to 2013, and it’s now Tuukka Rask’s turn to prove that he is capable of handling the No. 1 job on the biggest stage and providing the Bruins with the same level of goaltending that Thomas did. There have been endless comparisons made between Boston and the Chicago Blackhawks, but the online sports betting match up that will matter the most will be the goaltending duel that pits Rask up against Corey Crawford.

Unlike when Thomas started opposite Vancouver Canucks’ net minder Roberto Luongo in the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals, there hasn’t been much talk between the two goalies. Rask respects Crawford for everything he has done to help the Blackhawks get to the Stanley Cup Finals, but he is also concentrated on his own game and what he will have to do to come out on top. Both goaltenders are quick, athletic, and spend a lot of time studying tape and breaking down what opposing shooters do. There certainly aren’t many differences between them, and that is especially true of the sports betting numbers that they have registered throughout the postseason.

Rask is 12-4 with a 1.75 goals against average, and his numbers would be a lot better if he hadn’t struggled at times in Boston’s opening round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Three of Boston’s four losses in these playoffs came against the Maple Leafs in the first round, but they have been nearly unstoppable since and Rask has played better with every passing online betting series. Meanwhile, Crawford is 12-5 with a nearly identical goals against average at 1.74, and has also stepped up with every passing round. Rask’s .943 save percentage is only slightly better than Crawford’s .935 mark, and that is likely the result of Rask having one more shutout than Crawford at 2-1. To an extend both goaltenders have already proven they are among the legitimate franchise goaltenders in the NHL, yet both still feel they have everything to prove in the Stanley Cup Finals.

While the numbers make it no easier to decipher the differences in these goaltenders, the reality is that only one of these two starters will be able to celebrate a Stanley Cup win. The Bruins have been the more physical team, but their skill is often underrated bcause of the attention they get for the big hits and ugly goals. The Blackhawks are considered to be the more skilled team, but how they will hold up in front of Crawford against a bigger Boston team is something that will have a significant impact on the series. This series has been broken down almost every possible way and there is no doubt that it is a fairly even match up overall, and that is why goaltending will be the key for which team celebrates as Stanley Cup win.

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