2015 Stanley Cup Finals so far – Chicago Blackhawks vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Unlike like last years Stanley Cup Final between the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers, which was not suspenseful, the Tampa Bay Lightning vs Chicago Blackhawks reminds me of the Blackhawks vs Bruins final from a few years ago. That of course was tied 2-2 and the Bruins looked like the better team but we know what the end result was. This year it’s tied 2-2 and the Lightning look like the better team as well. But will the Blackhawks pull another rabbit out of their hat?
A2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs C3 Chicago Blackhawks
What we learned: These two teams are very evenly matched and it’s been a classic so far. Both deserve to be here.
Things I like: Great opening Game 1 goal by Alexander Killorn. That takes skill. I also love the way the Lightning opened the game in general. They just brought it full bore. The Blackhawks scored 2 in two minutes in the 3rd period led by wonderkid Teuvo Teravainen. Just goes to show, even when they aren’t playing at their best, the Blackhawks just find a way to win. Not a lot of high quality scoring chances in the game but both Ben Bishop and Corey Crawford made some nice saves. Great pace and action to the start of Game 2. Although Game 1 started out nice, it died after five minutes and the game was mostly boring. Lots of great scoring chances in the first period. Great second period of non-stop back and forth action. Great scoring chances. The Lightning really had some keys goals when they needed them. Wow what a start to Game 3. After the Lightning goal the Blackhawks just dominated. So many juicy chances, yet they converted none of them. The 2nd period picked up where the 1st left off, just more even. Loads of quality scoring chances. The 3rd period was just as great. The series has really hit its stride and should feature great close games the rest of the way. I love the way Tampa Bay responded after the Blackhawks goal. Just 13 seconds later. They’ve been responding like that all playoffs long. Great stickhandling and pass by Valtteri Filppula to Steven Stamkos. Stamkos’ shot was also great, even if it clanked off the post. Great game winning goal by Cedric Paquette off the feed from Victor Hedman. Game 4 didn’t have the abundant scoring chances the other games did but it was still entertaining and even. What a pass by Valtteri Filppula on the Alex Killorn goal. Fooled everybody. What a fun last two minutes of Game 4 that was. Goodness Gracious.
Things I don’t: The goalie interference call on Kris Versteeg was ridiculous. Should have just been a no call. A really tough pill to swallow for the Lightning to lose a game, the way they did, when they should have won it at home. Especially so early in a series, it doesn’t boost you confidence. The Lightning were really lucky in the first period of Game 2. They had a bad turnover in their zone, gave up a 2 and 1 and almost gave up a 1 on 0, if Toews had passed it better. Luckily none of it led to anything for them. A couple of really dumb penalties by the Lightning. They are lucky it only lead to one goal. Brad Richards goal in Game 3 was bad. Ben Bishops holey glove strikes again. He’s had one of those in almost every round. During the Blackhawks scoring chance run they had one of the worst 2 on 1s I’ve ever seen. I don’t care if Marian Hossa was tripped or not, a professional hockey player needs to bury that puck into an empty goal. It’s pretty obvious that Ben Bishop is not 100% despite what the coach said during his 2nd period interview. I don’t know why the Chicago fans are mad at the officials. It’s pretty obvious that Brandon Saad punched Bishop in the head on his interference call. Majorly missed opportunity by the Lightning to capitalize on an over a minute 5 on 3. You have got to convert those. Funny how Lightning coach John Cooper says Ben Bishop is fine in Game 3 and then he doesn’t star Game 4. Doesn’t look so fine does he coach? The Lightning powerplay has been atrocious lately. They’re shooting and passing into lanes that don’t exist, which is troubling. The Lightning give up way too many odd man rushes to the Blackhawks. They really need to fix that. I don’t know why the Lightning waited until 90 seconds left to pull their goalie. They had a good thing going in the Blackhawks zone for the previous thirty seconds that probably would have been so much better if they had an extra man out there.
Likely Winner: Well I’ve counted the Blackhawks out numerous times only for them to come back and burn me. That could very well be the case again. However, the Lightning, overall look like the better team. Sans a few miscues in Game 1 and an earlier goalie pull in Game 4, they could have swept the series. Of course it’s not like the Blackhawks have played badly to be swept. But these are two teams that are very even with a slight performance edge going to the Lightning. I’m sticking with my original prediction of the Lightning in 7, with the home team winning the rest of the way.
0 – Penalty minutes for Patrick Kane and Teuvo Teravainen, the only players in the top 50 in playoff scoring without any
9 – Goals scored by both teams in the series so far
1 – The goal differential between each game
31:14 – Minutes a game by Duncan Keith, surprisingly he still trails Roman Josi of the Predators who had 31:36 playoff minutes a game when he played
26:22 – Minutes a game for Brent Seabrook the next highest player in the series
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
June 04, 1999 Mike Keane scored twice within a span of four minutes in the second period to lead the Stars to a 4-1 win against the visiting Colorado Avalanche, in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. The win advanced the Stars to the Stanley Cup Finals.
June 05, 1967 Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings, Oakland Seals, and St. Louis Blues officially received their NHL franchises.
June 06, 1989 Wayne Gretzky became the first player in NHL history to win the same award nine times when he was named the recipient of the Hart Trophy after his first season with the Los Angeles Kings.
June 07, 2003 Steve Rucchin scored twice in the first period, and Paul Kariya added a goal and two assists in the Mighty Ducks’ 5-2 win over the visiting New Jersey Devils, in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
June 08, 2000 Dallas’ Ed Belfour made 48 saves and Mike Modano scored the lone goal at 6:21 of the 3rd overtime as the Stars beat the Devils 1-0 at New Jersey in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals. It was the longest 1-0 game in the Finals history.
June 09, 1993 Montreal Canadiens beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-1 at the Forum in Montreal, to win the 1993 Stanley Cup Championship in five games. Patrick Roy was named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy.
June 10, 1987 Edmonton’s Wayne Gretzky won the Hart Trophy (as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player) for the eighth consecutive season.
Author: Alex Mueller
Alex Mueller graduated from Temple University with a minor in journalism over a decade ago. He’s been writing about NHL hockey, on and off, since the Fall of 2009. He’s written for Pucking Awesome, the Checking Line and now Hockey Recaps. He played goalie at San Diego Ice Arena. His first novel, Bobby Sterling vs Truth, is available on Amazon now.