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NHL Boston BruinsChicago Blackhawks

2013 Stanley Cup Finals: 10 Players to Watch For

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Who Should Fans be Watching?

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Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

It is finally time for the Stanley Cup Final as the shortened 2013 NHL season draws to a close. We are left with a great matchup between two of the original six teams as the Boston Bruins face the Chicago Blackhawks, beginning on Wednesday night in Chicago. There is no doubt in my mind that we are in for an epic series, especially coming from these two teams. I have picked the 10 most important players in this series to watch for.

This becomes a matchup of two of the best goalies going in the playoffs with Tuukka Rusk and Corey Crawford. It could easily boil down to which one of them breaks first. There is always the offensive talent on both of these teams and with the potential that this series turns physical and low-scoring, it will be up to the skill players to make the biggest difference in who ends up winning this. It’s going to be close and each game should be watched from start to finish.

If I was going to make a prediction on this series, I would say that it will go at least six games. I have to think that the Blackhawks will be able to pull this out in the end to complete their epic season. If they don’t get it done, the season won’t exactly be a failure, but there will be some people who say that the team didn’t get the job fully done. Here are the 10 players who need to be watched the most closely during the Stanley Cup Final.

Andy Schmidt is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ASchmidtSports, like his Facebook page or add him to your network on Google.

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10. Patrick Sharp

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Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Sharp has more goals in the playoffs than he had during the regular season with eight postseason goals. He will anchor a second line that may be the key to this series.

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9. Jaromir Jagr

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Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Jagr has been here before and played against Chicago in the finals over 20 years ago. He hasn’t scored a goal in the playoffs, but I’m sure that will change.

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8. Jonathan Toews

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The captain needs to have a huge series for Chicago. He has been held down in the scoring department with just one goal and eight assists, but if he does break out, it will spell trouble.

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7. Nathan Horton

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Horton is just increasing his value in free agency with 17 points in 16 games. If he can keep it up, Boston will be hard to beat.

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6. Corey Crawford

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Scott Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Crawford has a huge job ahead of him in trying to hold down the Boston offense, since goals will come at a premium in this series. He is 12-5 with a 1.74 goals against average in the postseason.

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5. David Krejci

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Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Krejci could be looked at as one of the biggest offensive players left out there with his 14 points in 16 postseason games.

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4. Duncan Keith

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Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Keith will need to log probably 25-30 minutes a game to help out on defense. He has 11 points this postseason.

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3. Tuukka Rask

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Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Rask has improved his game even more in the playoffs with a 12-4 record and a 1.75 goals against average. It will be tough to score on him to say the least.

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2. Patrick Kane

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Scott Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Kane had the hat trick to move Chicago to the title round. He has turned it up lately and has 14 points in 17 postseason games.

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1. Zdeno Chara

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Chara is a massive presence with his 6-9 height. He has 11 points in 16 games during this year’s postseason.