Jason's Stanley Cup Predictions

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Jason's Preview


1. Forwards- Chicago has a more potent offense than Tampa. With Forwards that have high end or elite scoring skill like Kane, Toews, Hossa, Saad and Sharp. Though Tampa has Stamkos the bulk of scoring has come from unproven young players like Kucherov and a diminutive powerhouse player in Johnson. They lack consistent scorers throughout their line up that can push the issue against this Hawks team. Right now Chicago's offense is the hotter of the two with 14 goals in the last 3 games (toews, Kane and Hossa netting 8 of those) where Tampa has only had 7 goals in the last 3 games (only 1each by Stamkos and Kucherov) Chicago forwards have speed like Tampa but their skill and size is an advantage over Tampa. In short Chicago can play in the offensive zone and score any way the game dictates where Tampa would need to rely on a great transition game and open space.
EDGE- Hawks


2. Defensemen- Though Tampa has a couple of great young up and coming Defensemen in Stralman and Hedman the Blackhawks have a Keith! Though they only have 4 regulars who play big minutes on the back end they proved last series that they don't wear down. Those four have the experience, skill and mindset of champions. Tampa's defense while good has not been tested much as far as high skill teams. Chicago will give the Lightning everything they haven't seen yet in the playoffs: a team with speed, durability, size, skill and puck possession ability. Chicago will have its hands full slowing down an equally speedy Tampa offense that boasts one of the best pure goal scorers in the game. However, Chicago shut down perry and getzy with relative ease and (somehow) looked to get stronger as the series moved along. Oh and Keith has more points than Stamkos in less games!
EDGE- Hawks (barely)


3. Goaltending- Both goalies had their struggles this post season with Crawford a complete meltdown in round one vs Nashville and "Big Ben" Bishop battling inconsistency throughout the playoffs (particularly at home). Crawford has more experience which is an advantage but Bishop has that size and game stealing ability which can win a long series. Bishop has been a big game goalie this playoffs posting 2 shutouts in his first 2 game 7's ever but Crawford has improved from the first round including a series sweep and a rock solid performance in elimination games (4-0) the deciding factor will be can Bishop steal enough games for his team because he will have to or it'll be a quicker series than people will be expecting.
EDGE- Draw


4. Special Teams- Tampa has been clicking better on their power play 22% to 19% and their PK is at an okay 81% but it's way better than Chicago's horrid 75%. Though the lightning have the statistical advantage Chicago is 7-0 when they do score so the PP for Chicago is a great indicator of how their fortunes will go. The faltering point is Chicago's horrific PK. Fortunately they don't take many penalties but Tampa doesn't need much with the snipers floating around on their power play and for that Tampa gets a (slight) advantage.
EDGE- Bolts (barely)


5. Intangibles- They are the closest thing to a dynasty the NHL can have in a Salary cap era. They have been to the cup finals now 3 times in the last 6 years and conference finals 4 times! That experience is spread amongst the whole core from Toews to Kane to Keith to Hossa to Crawford to Shaw to Quenneville. Those are players that will go down 3-0 in game five find a way to force overtime and go on to dominate games 6 and 7 when they were physically pounded. Hell you even have the GM of Tampa (Yzerman one of the youngest and prolific captains in nhl history) calling Toews a much better player than I was! The Blackhawks don't panic, their leadership is the best in the league and they have an Everest sized mountain of experience.
EDGE- Hawks

6. Coaching- Joe Quenneville is an elite coach who in this playoffs alone has had to work through a subpar goaltending performance, an extremely depleted defense and back to back elimination games against the best regular season team in the west. When he lost game one (4-1 in Anaheim) and was questioned about the ducks bruising style against his big minute Dmen he didn't panic or overreact by line juggling he kept the big four all the way through the series and that faith paid off with the defense seemingly getting better as the series moved along. He also made the right adjustments at forward when Toews and Kane were lackluster during the beginning of the 7 games series. He made an adjustment (like good coaches do) and paired them with speedy Brandon Saad. That resulted in the hawks scoring in bunches to close out a tough series. Though Tampa coach John Cooper has had success it's no where near the level of Q. It's Coopers first SCF and he will be facing the toughest matchup of his career. Cooper has been fortunate to win a couple of game 7's this postseason but where he has coached his lightning to a 4-3 record in elimination games Professor Q has been a perfect 4-0. That's where a great coach stands above a good coach.
EDGE- Hawks


My Prediction-Hawks in 6.