The time has come. After a grueling regular season and some thrilling playoff games – especially the conference finals – it’s time for the duel that will decide who takes home Lord Stanley’s Mug.
First, let’s talk about how both teams managed to get to the position of deciding hockey’s most precious trophy.
From the Eastern Conference comes the Tampa Bay Lightning. In a great series against the Rangers they beat the New Yorkers even without having home-ice advantage. It’s not easy to beat a New York team playing the seventh and decisive game in the Big Apple.
Personally, after game 6 I thought they wouldn’t be able to handle the pressure, but they pulled themselves together and used their trademark to win: speed. They are fast skaters and it’s hard to keep up with them when they are in transition.
Add to that a great and giant goalie in an amazing season (Ben Bishop) and some really talented guys: Fillpula, Kucherov, Stamkos, Palat and Paquette, and you have a winning formula to get to the Stanley Cup finals.
From the Western Conference comes the Chicago Blackhawks. Easily the most victorious team in the NHL in the last five years they were with their backs to the wall against the Ducks in the Conference Finals, but proved that experience is an invaluable asset to have in decisive games.
As I said in my Conference Finals post, it’s really hard to bet against this Chicago team. Although they lost games in Chicago, there’s no doubt in my mind that they would beat the Ducks in seven games.
The Blackhawks are an all-around great team and this year they have an advantage: goalie Corey Crawford is playing like never before in his life. And how can you not talk about talented and seasoned veterans like Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Johnathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Marcus Kruger? No wonder they are again in the finals.
As for the actual matchup, I’m with ESPN’s analyst Barry Melrose. I guess teams from the Eastern Conference can’t match physically with teams from the Western Conference. Western teams are tougher and stronger.
I know Tampa Bay can compensate their physically weaker team with their speed, but against team as talented as Chicago, I can’t see how their speed will be able to turn things around. Besides, Chicago experience in decisive games will be a huge factor.
However, this is hockey and weird things can happen. What if Tampa finds a way to stop Chicago and its most talented players (there’s a lot of them) during four games? Then their speed can make a difference.
Anyway, I think the games will be hard fought (it’s a Stanley Cup final for Chrissake!), but not the series. Blackhawks 4-1.
But, despite of that I’m anxious for it to begin as soon as possible and I can’t wait for tomorrow night.
Thunder – Back Street Symphony
Him – Screamworks: Love In Theory and Practice, Chapters 1-13
Cathedral – The Garden Of Unearthly Delights
The Pirate Lafitte and the Battle of New Orleans – Robert Tallant
The Borne Trilogy (Blu-ray)
Be sure to check out my book “Straight And Lethal” winner of the NABE Pinnacle Awards 2014 Fall edition.
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