Blackhawks vs Lightning Playoff Pick
It will be a clash of youth versus experience when the Stanley Cup Final kicks off on Wednesday night. The Chicago Blackhawks represent the experience – this team won the Cup in 2010 and 2014.
NHL Playoffs Betting
Stanley Cup Finals Schedule
Wednesday, June 3 8 p.m. Chicago at Tampa Bay NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
Saturday, June 6 7:15 p.m. Chicago at Tampa Bay NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
Monday, June 8 8 p.m. Tampa Bay at Chicago NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Wednesday, June 10 8 p.m. Tampa Bay at Chicago NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
*Saturday, June 13 8 p.m. Chicago at Tampa Bay NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
*Monday, June 15 8 p.m. Tampa Bay at Chicago NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
*Wednesday, June 17 8 p.m. Chicago at Tampa Bay NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
Blackhawks vs. Lightning Odds To Win 7 Stanley Cup Final Series:
Blackhawks Series Prices -145
Lightning Series Prices +125
The Tampa Bay Lightning are the youth – none of its core has even won three rounds in one playoff run. Each team plays a very similar style, with exciting players up and down the lineup and speed throughout.
Both teams arrive off grueling seven game series – both showed some grit en route to the Final and neither wants their magical seasons to end with a loss on the Biggest Stage. Tampa Bay went 1-0-1 against Chicago during the regular season but you can throw all of the stats out the window – the Final is a totally different ball game.
So who takes home Lord Stanley’s Cup? Let’s take a look.
There certainly isn’t a shortage of offensive talent in this series – the Blackhawks have names like Toews, Kane, Hossa, Saad, Sharp, Richards and Bickell to go along with superb roll players like Antoine Vermette, Teuvo Teravainen, Marcus Kruger, Andrew Shaw and Andrew Desjardins. All can and will contribute for Chicago.
Kane has 10 goals and 20 points in 17 games, Toews has nine goals and 18 points, including five goals in the last four games against the Ducks – they anchor perhaps the best top two lines in the game.
The terrific Patrick Sharp plays on Chicago’s third line along with Vermette and Teravainen while Kruger, Shaw and Desjardins are the fourth line – amazing depth indeed!
The Tampa Bay Lightning have some offensive threats as well. That said their depth isn’t quite up to the Blackhawks. In fact their top-six forwards have accounted for 45 of Tampa Bay’s 55 goals in the playoffs so far – they are going to need extraordinary efforts again from their top players in order to hoist the Cup.
The “Triplets” line of Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov has been sensational throughout the playoffs. Johnson leads the Lightning with 12 goals and 21 points, Kucherov is tied for first on the team with 10 assists and is second with 19 points and Palat has seven goals and 15 points.
No team has had an answer for this line yet although the Rangers did an OK job in the last four games in the East Final.
And then there is the top line of center Valtteri Filppula, Steven Stamkos on the right wing and Alex Killorn on the left wing. Stamkos has seven goals and 14 points in his last 12 games. He scored in four straight games against the Rangers. Killorn has seven goals, including two game-winners and 16 points and Filppula has 11 points.
Brian Boyle, Ryan Callahan, Cedric Paquette, J.T. Brown and Brenden Morrow make up the remaining forward group – decent names but not much of a threat to score at this point.
To me the Chicago Blackhawks have the advantage here mostly because they will be able to trot out a stellar top 2 defensive pairings to minimize, not stop the Lightning’s top two lines. There is no comparison when it comes to depth – the Hawks are the deeper, more experienced squad.
A lot has been made about the minutes that Chicago’s defense has logged so far in the playoffs but it hasn’t seemed to have had much of an overall impact on this team.
Two-time Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith has been absolutely stellar and is in the Conn Smyth conversation for sure, his partner Brent Seabrook has been a rock, Niklas Hjalmarsson has stepped up and is almost in the elite category of defensemen and Johnny Oduya has been eating up minutes and playing pretty well for the Hawks.
Tampa Bay’s you defensive pairing of Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman has become elite almost overnight. Hedman, the #2 overall pick in 2009 has been superb in the postseason in both ends of the rink. He has a minus 11 rating thus far – among the best in the playoffs. Hedman’s partner has been the perfect compliment – he allows Hedman to operate without limitation – both defensively and offensively.
Jason Garrison and Braydon Coburn have also been terrific – physical and certainly dependable. The third pair of Matthew Carle and Andrej Sustr have been as well.
The edge here again has to go to Chicago. The Hawks were the second best defensive team in the NHL during the Regular Season and although they have not been shut-down in the playoffs, Chicago’s D Crop. has still done a job on some pretty tough teams so far including the Ducks in the last series.
Now for the goaltending. Who Knows? Both Ben Bishop and Corey Crawford have struggled at times in the playoffs and have looked sensational at others. Crawford was benched remember in the first round but has bounced back. He is He is 9-5 with a .919 save percentage and a 2.56 goals-against average during the 2015 playoffs.
Bishop 12-8 with a .920 save percentage and 2.15 GAA overall in the playoffs but he has delivered some serious duds en route to this point including allowing 15 goals in three games against the Rangers.
He has some weaknesses for sure but has shown an ability to rebound nicely – Bishop is 7-1 with a 1.25 goals-against average, .951 save percentage and two shutouts in games after losses in the playoffs.
Translation – Bishop is resilient as they come right now.
4* FREE NHL Series Prediction:
Chicago will play for its third Stanley Cup title in six seasons. They have made it as far as the conference finals in five out of the past seven years. Experience is the difference here. The Lightning have been great so far in the playoffs but they haven’t faced an offensive juggernaut like the Blackhawks just yet. The reality is that Tampa is essentially a two-line team. It will take more than that to beat Chicago at this point of the year.
Take the Blackhawks in six games to win their third Cup in five years!