Stanley Cup Finals: 5 Impact Players Who Must Step Up to Win NHL Crown

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Stanley Cup Finals: 5 Impact Players Who Must Step Up to Win NHL Crown

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Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 Stanley Cup Finals showcase two teams with contrasting styles in the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks. The Bruins move as a unit. They defend together, transition together and score together. The Blackhawks, on the other hand, have a handful of guys who can create their own shot and bury the puck with the best of them.

The Blackhawks and Bruins steamrolled through their conference finals, so neither team should have any advantages from a longer layoff time. The Blackhawks were able to dispatch the Los Angeles Kings in five games, while the Bruins swept the Pittsburgh Penguins in one of the most impressive conference finals performances in recent memory.

Goaltending always seems to be one of the biggest reasons a team does or doesn’t succeed in the postseason. Both teams have solid net-minders in Tuukka Rask and Corey Crawford. Both have nearly identical stats through the playoffs, but Rask had one of the most impressive performances by allowing only two goals against one of the highest scoring offenses in the Penguins. If there were an edge to be had in the department, it would have to go to Rask.

The Blackhawks will need to find a way to slow the Bruins first line. Nathan Horton, Milan Lucic and David Krejci are a combined plus-48 in the playoffs, scoring 19 of the Bruins' 50 goals. The Blackhawks don’t have to rely on one line to get their offense going. They have eleven different players with at least two goals in the playoffs.

David Fouty is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @davefouty

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Brad Marchand - Boston Bruins

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Marchand emerged as the Bruins' lightning rod in the conference finals. His two-goal performance in Game 2 against the Penguins showed he can have an impact on his own with his speed.

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Brent Seabrook - Chicago Blackhawks

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Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Seabrook will have to get physical with the Bruins' first line to slow their production. He's capable of nullifying opponents offensively, and will have to assert himself to that end for the Blackhawks to be successful.

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Patrice Bergeron - Boston Bruins

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Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Bergeron has worked his tail off in the playoffs, earning the knockout blow in the second overtime of Game 3 against the Penguins. His ability to win faceoffs will be key to the Bruins capitalizing on odd-man situations.

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Patrick Kane - Chicago Blackhawks

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Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Kane had only three goals going into the clinching game against the Kings. But his hat-trick in the decider showed he can be one of the hardest Blackhawks to mark.

Kane can't disappear in the Stanley Cup Finals. He has to be a thorn in the Bruins' side. He has to keep moving. He also needs to stop trying to carry the puck into the zone when he's being marked by multiple defensemen.

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Tuukka Rask - Boston Bruins

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Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports

Rask was a beast for the Bruins against the Penguins. He can't let his level of play drop if the Bruins are going to have a shot at taking the Blackhawks down. He faces a very similar opponent in the Blackhawks, so it will be interesting to see if he can continue to dominate the painted area.

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