A key phrase for the Bruins and Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford through the first four games of the Stanley Cup Final was “high glove side.”
The Bruins scored 10 of their first 12 goals in this series to Crawford’s glove side, and eight of those were high and toward the catching hand.
Daniel Paille scored the game-winning goals in Games 2 and 3 by firing the puck past Crawford’s mitt. It would seem Paille has the book on Crawford memorized, and the scouting report was aiding his team’s cause.
“I think you kind of just see what’s open. If you look at a lot of the goals, I think it depends on the angle as well, too,” Paille said Saturday before Game 5 at the United Center. “I think we’ve been able to find ourselves on the one side of the ice a lot, and that’s what we’ve seen available. Doesn’t mean it’s going to be there this game, and it changes game in and game out.”
But a solid pre-scout on a player isn’t always foolproof. After winning a wild 6-5 affair in overtime in Game 4 at TD Garden, Crawford didn’t shy away from the notion that his glove side has been weak this series. But he also acknowledged that the Los Angeles Kings enjoyed success by attacking him to the blocker side in the Western Conference Final.
Maybe there’s a mental battle that involves guessing, as much as there’s a physical battle involving the speed and direction of a shot. When asked about all the glove-side goals, Bruins forward Tyler Seguin quipped that it might be time to shoot blocker-side.
“You guys are all thinking it, so . . .” Seguin said.
The manpower hours and money spent on scouting and technology might get a little wasted, especially at this time of year when only two teams remain. Not only have both sides seen pretty much everything the other team has to offer, but the game is just too quick to intentionally do everything based on a tip or a trend.
A baseball scouting report that tells a pitcher a hitter can’t touch a curveball gives that pitcher a major edge because he has plenty of time to prepare to throw that pitch. There’s little to no time to make calculations about shot selection when the puck lands on a player’s stick in the slot.
Success scoring against Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask or Crawford is probably more about hard work and determination than information.
“Well, at this point I think they know whatever they need to know about Tuukka; we know what we need to know about Crawford,” Bruins forward Brad Marchand said. “He’s still a great goalie, he still makes a lot of great saves, same as Tuukka.
“In the game, when you have a shot, you more just look for the open net. You’re not really thinking about that. And . . . we’ve had so many opportunities where we shot it glove-side, and he’s stoned us, so I don’t think it really matters.”