Stanley Cup Finals: Potential Game 5 X-Factors

2013 Stanley Cup FInals
2013 Stanley Cup FInals
Chicago IL USA Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brandon Saad 20 during the third period in game one of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins at the United Center Rob Grabowski USA TODAY Sports

Knotted at two after four games, including three overtime tilts, the deadlocked Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks are set to duke it out for a spot on the brink of the ultimate goal. Tonight’s Game 5 in Chicago will be the last of the season for which the Stanley Cup will not be present, and the victor will have two chances to hoist the famous trophy.

Through four contests, unlikely heroes Andrew Shaw, Daniel Paille and Brent Seabrook have provided the game-winning goals. Of course, usual suspects Patrick Kane, David Krejci, Jonathan Toews and Patrice Bergeron could be difference makers at the business end of the series, but so often in tight series it’s the depth players that leave their mark.

Here are a few players that could tip the balance in Game 5:

Brandon Saad – Chicago Blackhawks

Blackhawks rookie Brandon Saad got things going in Game 4 with blazing speed as he set up Michal Handzus’ opening goal on an odd-man rush. Saad has just six postseason points, but he played well against Boston. He scored his only goal of the postseason in Game 1, and he has the skills to do it again. The 2011 second-rounder has been inconsistent in his first full season, but he did prove his talent with 15 points in 14 February games. His ability could lead to a Chicago breakthrough this evening.

Tyler Seguin – Boston Bruins

The name Tyler Seguin keeps coming up as an X-factor. Boston’s  2012 scoring leader in terms of both goals and points, has just one lamp-lighter to his name in the playoffs, but he has been excellent in the finals nonetheless. He has been especially positive in overtime, and his youthful energy could finally payoff if extra sessions are needed again. Now aligned with Daniel Paille and Chris Kelly, Seguin has three assists in four games against the Blackhawks, and he has tested Corey Crawford 14 times. Perhaps the fifteenth chance will finally reach the back of the net.

Michael Frolik – Chicago Blackhawks

The tenth overall pick in the 2006 NHL draft, Michael Frolik has talent to burn, though he has yet to establish himself as a top-six center. The Czech 25-year old shares the hometown of Kladno with Boston’s Jaromir Jagr, and Frolik likely grew up idolizing the 41-year old winger. Despite his veneration for the active leader in career postseason points, Frolik will look to steal the grizzled veteran’s thunder by keeping him from a third championship. Frolik has two assists in the series, including one in Game 4, and he should be a major factor tonight dueling with Boston’s Chris Kelly.

Carl Soderberg – Boston Bruins

It remains unclear whether or not Soderberg will take the ice tonight for Boston, but CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty suggests that the big Swede could step in for Kaspars Daugavins. Following a protracted transfer saga, Soderberg finally arrived in Boston after playing a complete season in the Swedish Elitserien. Playing for Linkopings HC, the sizable forward led the league with 31 goals and trailed just one player with 60 points. Deploying Soderberg tonight would be a big gamble for Boston, considering he has just six NHL games under his belt and questions abound about his readiness for the intensity of the playoffs, but the depth forward has a superb shot. Soderberg can definitely score goals, but he could be a defensive liability for the Bruins. If he is in the lineup, he will undoubtedly be a player to watch.

author avatar
Chris Blanchard
Chris Blanchard is a Boston, MA native and a student at Davidson College. He began writing about hockey as a Boston Bruins featured columnist for Bleacher Report in the fall of 2012. He has been covering the NHL for XN Sports since May of 2013. !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+'://';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');