The Stanley Cup final is finally upon us, and it has somewhat of a storybook quality to it. The grizzled and experienced Chicago Blackhawks trying to win their third Cup in six years and become the closest thing the NHL has seen to a dynasty; against the fresh-faced Tampa Bay Lightning, littered with youthful enthusiasm and exuberant cockiness, and the skill to go along with it. This match-up begs the old Islanders vs. Oilers question: do the Lightning have to lose before they can win? Or are we going to see their talent overcome that of the Blackhawks, and their naivety work to their advantage?
I’ll say this much about this Tampa team: they’re fun to watch, but they have an air of inconsistency about them. Will Ben Bishop be on top of his game in this series? Will their defence hold up against a potent Chicago offence? The Blackhawks played their top-four blueliners into the ground against the Ducks, but they didn’t look tired in games six and seven. Do the Hawks have another level, or are they finally out of gas? I look at Chicago and see a team that may fall victim to the salary cap yet again, a team that knows they are at Stanley’s door for maybe the last time with this core, and a team that knows exactly how to win it all. And that may be enough.
Back in September, I picked the Blackhawks to win the Stanley Cup. I’m not going to change my mind now. But, I would love to see the Lightning hoist the trophy when all is said and done. In fact, I may be cheering for them. However, I can’t look at these Blackhawks, at Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, and Patrick Kane, and believe they don’t have more in the tank. Those guys are proven. Tampa Bay is not. But hey who knows, they may be in a couple weeks time.
Prediction: Blackhawks in 6.
Steven Stamkos really wants to win a championship. [Globe and Mail]
There’s already games between the Hawks and Lightning and the Final hasn’t started yet. [Hockey Feed]
It’s official. The Devils have named Jon Hynes their new head coach. [Along the Boards]
Was it a fair price? [The Hockey News]
Who are the best captains in the league? [NHL on the Ice]
What to do with Brent Seabrook? [Oilers Nation]
Todd Nelson might be returning behind the bench in Edmonton. [The Score]
The financial situation in Arizona appears to be improving. [Sportsnet]
And finally, Sportsnet is tops in Canada among sports networks. That big NHL deal could have something to do with it. [Toronto Star]