The 2015 Stanley Cup Final is underway as of Wednesday night, with the puck drop scheduled for 7pm ET in Tampa Bay.
With how little home ice seemed to matter in the conference finals of both the east and the west, it’s hard to imagine that the fact that the Lightning have that advantage coming into this series will mean much of anything.
I mean, Tampa’s done better on the road anyway and it is the Blackhawks their playing.
Chicago has some interesting things on the line this time around, with a crack at being labeled a ‘dynasty’ lingering in the building.
By that I mean that a Blackhawks series victory would give them three Stanley Cups in five seasons, with nearly a fourth one last year if the LA Kings hadn’t somehow won Game 7 in the United Center.
And if you’re ever that close to anything, you’re pretty good at what you do. I don’t care who you root for.
Tampa Bay is heading into the season finale for the first time since 2004 where they faced the Calgary Flames and won hockey’s biggest prize in a seven game stunner.
They’ll take this series with the same grain of salt…hopefully.
While the Lightning have found a way to strive and survive away from home in the playoffs, Chicago’s biggest key to victory includes wearing out their opponents by taking them into overtime.
They did it to the Ducks, did it to the Predators, and tried doing it to the Wild as much as possible.
Worked pretty good with Anaheim and Nashville, so there’s no reason not to go with that strategy for the long-haul here in this particular final.
One of the biggest things to consider, as always with any hockey match up, is how well the goalies stack up.
Chicago’s Corey Crawford has had the harder road this year between himself and Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop, and it really showed when he was benched in favor of Scott Darling.
Crawford has slowly but surely made his way back into the limelight at the right time while this is all new for Ben Bishop & Co.
And that might be the dagger in Tampa Bay’s Cup hopes.
If you were to ask me right now who’d win the Stanley Cup, I’d have to stick with my gut though and take Tampa Bay in six games.
I don’t see any reason to think the Lightning will win it on home ice, given how they’ve played in their own building against the New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, and Detroit Red Wings.
Plus, you’d have to think Chicago’s going to send either Game 1 or 2 into an overtime to some degree — whether they want single, double, or triple overtime is something only time will tell.
And this time, let’s hope time tells the story well.
Series Prediction: Tampa Bay Lightning 4, Chicago Blackhawks 2
Game 1 – CHI 1, TB 0 (2 OT)
Game 2 – CHI 1, TB 2
Game 3 – TB 2, CHI 4
Game 4 – TB 2, CHI 1
Game 5 – CHI 4, TB 5 (2 OT)
Game 6 – TB 3, CHI 2 (OT)