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Stanley Cup Finals Preview

By: John Galletley

Stanley Cup Finals. Let those words sink in and appreciate that we’re finally at the grand stage after six weeks of playoffs. Man did they go by quick and it’s sad to see it almost over. I correctly predicted both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks to go to the finals while getting the exact number of games right with the Blackhawks. This puts my playoffs record at 9-5. Time to go for getting 2/3 of the series right and it looks like this will be a very entertaining conclusion to the season. Here are the keys for each team:

Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning need to continue what they have been doing all postseason: open up the ice. Force the Blackhawks to play their game because they have some of the best young talent around. These guys are fast and they can score quickly.

It all starts with the “Triplets” for them. This is arguably the best line of forwards in the NHL containing the emerging superstar Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, and Ondrej Palat. The Triplets have a combined 28 goals and 55 points for the playoffs. What makes them scary is that they are all young, fast, and have incredible chemistry on the ice which allows this line to have huge success.

Of course, we can’t forget about the established star on this team in Steven Stamkos. He may have had a slow start to the playoffs in the first round, but he has more than made up for it. Stamkos has scored seven goals and has 10 assists of his own to contribute to the Lightning’s success.

These guys are all incredible to watch offensively but don’t think that’s all they can do. This is a group that can buckle down and play defensive hockey when they need to. They know how to handle their sticks and make teams uncomfortable enough to where they can use their speed to block shots and force turnovers.

Ben Bishop can also step up for this team when they need him most. While he isn’t the most star-studded name behind the net, he has done the job well for the Lightning including coming up big when his team needed him most in the Conference Finals by shutting out the New York Rangers in Game 7. He also leads the NHL with three shutouts in the playoffs.

However, this young group will be tested like they never have before. Up until now, they really haven’t faced a team that can match them offensively. Think about it. They came off a series playing one of the worst scoring teams in the Rangers, one not much better the series before that against the Montreal Canadiens, and an older Detroit Red Wings team in the first round.

They are facing a Blackhawks team that is balanced, deep, and has plenty of playoff experience. The Blackhawks are not going to be intimidated by the Lightning so they better not be intimidated playing them.

Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks 1

Welcome back to the Finals Blackhawks! Your seats are nice and warm from the last time you were here. This is what it feels like seeing this team here again. It doesn’t surprise a single hockey fan despite them being a three seed. Somehow they have managed to get themselves into their third Finals appearance in six years.

The biggest reason they are here is because of Patrick Kane. Considering he was questionable to play significant time in the playoffs, he has absolutely shined coming off of his injury while never missing a playoff game. He has 10 goals and 10 assists so far which both lead the team.

There are also the usual suspects in Jonathon Toews, Marion Hossa, and Duncan Keith. Keith and Toews are among the league leaders with 18 points in the playoffs so far while Hossa has 13 of his own. This is a group that is not only producing but also have plenty of years of playoff experience.

Let’s not forget another big reason why the Blackhawks are here; Corey Crawford. He was a liability in the first round when he nearly lost his job in the playoffs to Scott Darling but after being shaken up a couple of games, he has shined. Crawford looked incredible sweeping the Minnesota Wild and held his own in the overtime battles against the Anaheim Ducks when the Blackhawks needed him most.

This Blackhawks team is special because they are one of the most balanced teams around that are not rattled by anything. You can’t assume you have this team beat until there is absolutely no time on the clock. There’s no way around it; this team is a dynasty. Facing a dynasty is dangerous because they’re hungry to add to their legacy and know exactly how to do it. This is a team that is incredibly clutch winning four of their five overtime affairs in the playoffs this year and have come from behind plenty of times.

However, just because they have had success so far doesn’t mean it will continue. Yes they are favorites in this series but in my opinion, this is the best team they have faced in the finals of the three they have played recently. The Lightning are a young team that can not only keep up with the Blackhawks, but perhaps surpass them.

They also don’t get rattled easily having won two Game 7’s, including a very difficult game in Madison Square Garden where the Rangers have had very good history of late. If the Blackhawks don’t let the game open up and don’t let the game become a battle up and down the ice, they should be in good shape to win the Cup once again.


The Blackhawks have history and a tough mental mindset while the Lightning have incredible youth, speed, and discipline. Logic says to pick the Blackhawks in this spot but something tells me this Lightning team is special and is ready to make their mark in history. Lightning in 7.

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Want to talk sports? John Galletley is the man to go to. He has been following sports of all kinds since he was a child but had a first love for baseball being in a family of Yankees fans. He also loves to travel and has used sports in order to do this including taking several road trips to MLB stadiums and other sports venues. John has always dreamed of working in the sports world and wants to make his way there as a writer in order to follow the philosophy of never working a day in your life if you love what you do.

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