2015 Stanley Cup Finals: Thoughts and Prediction
As bad as the NBA Conference Finals were, the NHL more than made up for it with two great series that both went the distance. The New York Rangers kept fighting until the end, but lost out to the young and determined Tampa Bay Lightning. And in the west, the Chicago Blackhawks held off the Anaheim Ducks offense when they needed to get the win the critical game seven. And now, the stage is set for a great series and a new champion to be crowned.
The Blackhawks have been a constant force in the Western Conference for a few years now and no one should be surprised to see them batting for the Stanley Cup once again. They won the cup in 2010 and 2013 and look to add a third one in the past six seasons.
In order to win the Stanley Cup this year, Chicago will need consistent offense from their superstars Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp, and Patrick Kane. If they can keep pressure on the Tampa Bay defense, they will be in good shape. But the Blackhawks will also have to get solid ice time out of Bryan Bickell and Andrew Desjardins and solid play from goalie Corey Crawford. They can score as much as they want but will have to stop a potent Lightning offense.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning have beat three of the Original Six teams on route to the Stanley Cup Finals, but will need to beat a fourth to win the cup. They beat the Red Wings, Canadiens, and Rangers in the Eastern Conference playoffs and surprised most fans in doing so. The Lightning won a Stanley Cup in the 2003-2004 season, but that was a different Lightning team and was a long time ago.
But, if Tamp Bay plays like they have all postseason, they have a chance to get their name added to the cup once again. And to do so, they will need to continue getting the scoring they have gotten from their forwards. Tyler Johnson, Steven Stamkos, Brenden Morrow, and Brian Boyle have been phenomenal and will need to continue to be. The difference makers may be RW Ryan Callahan and G Ben Bishop. Callahan hasn’t been the same player he was for New York before being traded to Tampa Bay, but started to look better in recent games. Bishop has been great, but had a few bad games giving up too many goals. Their chances may rest on the these two guys and others playing their roles.
Winner: Just as in the NBA, I believed that both teams from the west were better than the Eastern Conference teams. I like what the Lightning have done and it is very impressive. However, I just can’t see them being able to slow down the Chicago Blackhawks with all of their talent and experience. I still think the Lightning will win a couple games, but the series will be Chicago’s to lose. I predict the Chicago Blackhawks will win the series in seven games.
But regardless of who wins, this will be a hell of a series and will be fun to watch!
Daryl Karpinski Jr.