Stanley Cup Final preview and predictions
By Peter Santo and Mitch Canzano
Editor-In-Chief and Contributing Writer
Ah, the Stanley Cup Finals. Finally. The long-awaited hockey championship has returned and this year will feature two unexpected opponents.
The Chicago Blackhawks legendary dynasty continues to grow with yet another Cup appearance. Their center-pieces have stayed with them and as a result the team has had shocking playoff success.
On the other side of the ice, a Tampa Bay Lightning team which sports one of the youngest rosters in the league. Led by superstar Steven Stamkos, this team is a team that is a blast to watch. This series is going to be one for the ages, and I can say that without any hesitation.
Contrary to my predictions, Chicago has handily made its way to the finals with a 12-5 record. Their most shocking series win was against the Ducks in the Conference Finals.
At the beginning of the playoffs, if I knew they’d meet, I’d have picked Anaheim in 4. Nevertheless, I shouldn’t have doubted the Blackhawks. They’re a playoff team with great recent success.
Led by Captain Clutch Jonathan Toews, as well as all-star Patrick Kane, the Blackhawks have depth that most other teams lack, the Lightning included. The Hawks have Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Brad Richards, and they also have some top-tier defensemen in Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.
Their one weakness is their goaltending in Corey Crawford. In terms of special teams, the Blackhawks penalty kill was average during the regular season, killing about 83% of penalties. However, the playoffs have been another story, as they’ve killed just 75% of the penalties they’ve committed.
Then there’s the Tampa Bay Lightning. Boy is this team is a fun team to watch. They have tons of energy and also happen to be very good. Though led by Steven Stamkos, the Lightning have a very strong supporting cast around him.
Their second line, known in Tampa as the Triplet’s Line, has been one of the most successful tandems this postseason. Made up of Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, and Nikita Kucherov, this line has helped give the Lightning the boost they need to move through the playoffs.
Their chemistry is basically unmatched, but nobody really knows how that happened, especially because Kucherov only moved onto that line due to injuries to Alex Killorn and Ryan Callahan.
The Lightning also have the tallest ‘tendy in the league in Ben Bishop. He stands at 6’7 and he’s about as inconsistent as they come. He shutout the Rangers on two occasions in the Conference Finals, but also let up 5 goals or more on multiple occasions.
I’m pulling for the Lightning, but the Hawks are too good of a playoff team to lose to the Bolts. I believe it all lies in Corey Crawford’s glove, blocker, and pads on whether or not this team wins their 3rd Cup in 6 years.
Does any of this really matter? No, it doesn’t. Hockey is a crazy sport where every inch counts and truly, anything can happen.
Mitch’s prediction: Blackhawks in 6
Stanley Cup MVP: Patrick Kane
Peter’s prediction: Blackhawks in 7
Stanley Cup MVP: Jonathan Toews
Jackson’s Prediction: Lightning in 6
Stanley Cup MVP: Steven Stamkos