Cup finals questions: Will Hawks hold down the HuLK?

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The forward group that dominated the 2011 playoffs is doing the same through the first three rounds of 2013. So, the question is: can the Chicago Blackhawks slow down the Boston Bruins’ “HuLK” line?

The trio of Nathan Horton, Milan Lucic and David Krejci presents a befuddling mix of talent, size and skill. Head coach Claude Julien rarely splits them up, and when you look at their playoff numbers, it’s easy to see why:

Krejci: 21 points,* +14, two game-winning goals in 16 games
Horton: 17 points, +21, three game-winning goals in 16 games
Lucic: 13 points, +13, zero game-winning goals in 16 games

As this CSNChicago.com piece discusses, the lockout cut off any chance for the Blackhawks to get an idea of what they’re up against. Instead, we can only look at how Chicago handled the top players from other opposing teams in the 2013 postseason.

The verdict? So far, so good.

  • In five games against the Minnesota Wild, Zach Parise only managed a goal while Mikko Koivu and Ryan Suter went pointless.
  • Henrik Zetterberg went without a goal until Game 7 of their second-round series (while adding three assists in the semifinals) and Pavel Datsyuk only managed a goal and an assist in seven contests.
  • The Blackhawks held Anze Kopitar pointless through four games before he scored a goal and an assist in Chicago’s 4-3 double OT win in Game 5.

Those numbers certainly don’t guarantee that Duncan Keith, Corey Crawford and the rest of the Blackhawks will be able to subdue that bear of a line.

Still, whether you attribute it to puck possession, positive bounces or “offense being the best defense,” it seems that Chicago is developing a track record for powering down some of the league’s most dangerous players.

* – Krejci’s 21 points tops all playoff scorers. Horton’s 17 comes in second.

For more 2013 Cup finals questions, click here.