Central Division #3 vs. Atlantic Division #2
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Since 2010 the Blackhawks have been at the forefront of the Stanley Cup. This will be their third appearance in the Final and they have had the same cast of characters throughout most of their title runs. The Lightning will be making their second Final appearance and have a whole new cast from the one that led them to victory in 2004. Both Chicago and Tampa Bay play a similar style in that they try to lull their opponents to sleep and then pounce when the time is right. The Blackhawks did that with the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference Finals and the Lightning did it to the New York Rangers in the East. Their goalies aren’t highly regarded, but they have shown a lot of promise late in playoffs. Ben Bishop was astounding in net for the Lightning and Corey Crawford needed to be perfect for the Blackhawks. The one advantage going for Tampa Bay is that Chicago is a bit shorthanded on defense with injuries and fatigue taking a toll. The Blackhawks still boast a terrifying offense that goes nine deep up front. Tampa Bay isn’t short on offense either, but their defense was a big factor in getting this far. They’ll be put to the test with Chicago. It will be an interesting series that should be an offensive affair, but could come down to the defense.
Players to Watch: F Jonathan Toews and G Ben Bishop
Who Wins: Blackhawks in 7 games