After both of the Conference Finals went all the way to Game 7 we finally know who will be battling it out for the Stanley Cup. First, the Tampa Bay Lightning eliminated the New York Rangers and then, a day later, the Chicago Blackhawks sent the Anaheim Ducks packing. The good thing is that no team will have really rested longer than the other so it makes it a little more fair.
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This marks the sixth time in six seasons that the Chicago Blackhawks have advanced to the Stanley Cup Final. That’s ridiculous! Meanwhile, Tampa Bay will become the first team to play four Original Six teams in one Stanley Cup Playoff. Again, craziness!
Game 1 between Tampa Bay and Chicago will take place on Wednesday, June 3, 2015 at Amalie Arena (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports). Since TBL had six more points than Chicago at the end of the regular season, they will have home-ice advantage.
If their match-ups this season are any indication, this could be a very tight series. Chicago was 1-1-0 against Tampa Bay in the regular season. Lightning netminder, Ben Bishop, managed to shut Chicago down almost entirely by blocking 65 of their 67 shots on him. Still, it’s been a decade since Tampa won the Cup while this level of competition is still fresh for the Blackhawks who took home Lord Stanley in both 2010 and 2013.
While Chicago has relied heavily on defense for most of the postseason, forward, Patrick Kane, leads the team with 20 points. It’s impressive when you consider the fact that he had missed 21 games due to a fractured clavicle before returning in time for the postseason. Blackhawks captain, Jonathan Toews, and defenseman, Duncan Keith, each have 18 points. One thing that could be interesting is that the team has had a little goaltending drama. Corey Crawford was the starting goalie at the beginning of the playoffs but was pulled in favor of Scott Darling, only to later return to the net. We will have to wait and see how stable he is in this final round.
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Over in Florida, Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov, otherwise known as the “triplets,” are largely responsible for Tampa Bay’s success. They account for 28 of the 55 goals scored and continue to exhibit winning chemistry. Meanwhile, captain, Steve Stamkos, had a slow start to the playoffs (he didn’t post a goal in the first eight games) but he seems to have found his mojo and has 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in 12 games. Of course, another huge part of lineup is goaltender, Ben Bishop, who is fresh off of a shutout victory over the Rangers in Game 7. He had been mostly solid and consistent throughout the playoffs so it should be interesting to see how he stacks up against Chicago’s Corey Crawford.
I feel like this series is too close too call which will make it pretty exciting. Do you have predictions about who will win the Stanley Cup this year?