The Chicago Blackhawks come into their third Stanley Cup Final in just six seasons as the presumed favourites over the Tampa Bay Lightning. So far in the 2015 NHL Playoffs, the Blackhawks have rolled through the Nashville Predators in 6 games, the Minnesota Wild in 4 and recently battled through the Anaheim Ducks in Game 7.
Facing up against the young and unexperienced Lightning, Chicago would seem to have a significant edge in a seven game series after both teams have played over 100 games in the past eight months. There are three unavoidably obvious reasons for which the Chicago Blackhawks will defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning to win the 2015 Stanley Cup.
3: Both Teams Insane Speed Favors Chicago
Both the Chicago Blackhawks and the Tampa Bay Lightning play similar games. They’re extremely talented and ridiculously fast. Chicago’s style was questioned going up against Anaheim’s physical game and although they struggled at first, they were able to quickly learn and adapt in order to defeat the Ducks. Against another speed style of game, Chicago should be able to capitalize on the defensive lapses within Tampa Bay’s game.
Also, the Lightning’s lack of phenomenal possession numbers should lead to Chicago dominating the scoring chances. Tampa Bay’s SAT% sits at 49.02%, while Chicago boasts a 51.35% rate. Not a huge difference, but enough to create that extra scoring chance that could potentially win a game.
Lastly, Chicago’s talent and speed throughout their lineup is much more evident than Tampa’s. Although the Lightning have the amazing ‘Triplet’ line, their speed isn’t mind boggling after that. Unlike in Chicago, where they are able to roll all four lines and be able to keep up, and even enhance, the pace of play.
2: The Chicago Blackhawks Depth is Much Stronger
Speaking of depth, it will play a major role in determining the 2015 Stanley Cup Champion. Beyond Tampa Bay’s top six, there isn’t much production from their third and fourth line. In fact, no one on their bottom six has more than four points this postseason. Meanwhile in Chicago, their top 10 forwards all have five or more points. When the going gets tough, especially in overtime games, successful teams need to be able to trust all four lines. Unfortunately for Tampa, they can’t seem to rely on anyone beyond their top six.
Aside from just point production, Chicago’s depth players are also able to inflict different types of damage on their opponents. They’re tough, hard hitting and are even able to control great lengths of the game when they’re on the ice. In fact, it’s not farfetched to predict that the Blackhawks third line would be able to take on the Lightning’s second line.
Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell could end up having a huge effect on the outcome of this year’s final if they are able to play their role effectively. They are known for both wearing down the opposition physically, while also offering a promising chance for offensive production. Lining up against Tampa’s third line should have them seeing multiple scoring opportunities.
1: Experience Will Make a Huge Difference
The Chicago Blackhawks far and away hold the edge in experience in the Stanley Cup Final this year. Chicago features an astounding 14 players with Finals experience, up against Tampa Bay’s 6 who have seen the Finals before. That should seem to make an important difference in the series as the Stanley Cup Finals always proves to present unexpected challenges.
In perhaps a more important aspect for success, the Blackhawks again have the edge in goal and behind the bench. Ben Bishop has only been a starting goalie in the NHL for two seasons now, and has yet to make it past the first round until this year. Meanwhile, Corey Crawford is in his fifth season as a starter and has played an astounding 55 playoff games in the last three years alone, including a Stanley Cup win.
Behind the bench for Tampa Bay, Jon Cooper is in his second season as head coach in the NHL. He collected his first playoff victory this year, but has won championships in the USHL and the AHL. For Chicago, Joel Quenneville is in his 18th season as an NHL head coach, his 7th with the ‘Hawks, and has made the playoffs in 17 of those years, including two Stanley Cups. When it comes down to it, the Chicago Blackhawks have much more experience in all situations, on all parts of the ice.
When all is said and done, the Chicago Blackhawks clearly have the ability to win the Stanley Cup, as they’ve shown in the past. With these main three reasons alone, the ‘Hawks should come into the 2015 Stanley Cup Final as favourites. It’s been said time and time again, depth and experience are key to winning Stanley Cups, and Chicago has the heavy edge in both departments. Look for this salary cap-era dynasty to win it’s third Stanley Cup in just six seasons.
Who do you think will win the 2015 Stanley Cup? Discuss in the comments below!
Contributor for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Prospects. Scout with the Oakville Blades of the OJHL. For questions, concerns, or comments, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @SlawsonTHW.