2015 Stanley Cup Finals: Thoughts and Prediction From a Pens Blogger


The 2015 Stanley Cup finals are set, and who can really complain about a matchup like the Tampa Bay Lightning vs. the Chicago Blackhawks?

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While I’d clearly rather see the Pittsburgh Penguins representing the Eastern Conference, I have to admit that I’m excited to see what this series brings. The Anaheim Ducks may have provided more offensive flair than Chicago, but this matchup is an interesting one for many reasons.

Let’s consider the average age of the two contenders. The Chicago Blackhawks are somewhat of a veteran team, with a battle tested lineup having been to five conference finals in the last seven years, and winning two Stanley Cup’s in that time frame. Their average age is 29.3.  The Lightning, on the other hand, are coming into the finals with an average age of 26.9 and very little playoff experience among them.

Youth looks to be a major contributing factor these days, as teams that battle this late into the season rely on young legs. But, the Blackhawks continue to prove that keeping an experienced core together can still be beneficial, when you can surround guys like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane with a solid supporting cast year-after-year.

Though the Tampa Bay Lightning have shown that they are a true contender in eliminating the Presidents Trophy-winning New York Rangers, I still feel as if Chicago is the clear favorite in this matchup, the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals. Why? Well, combining analytics with what we’ve seen from both teams provides a clear indication of what we can expect.

The Blackhawks, not surprisingly, have maintained solid possession numbers throughout the playoffs. The one weakness that would have likely tilted this matchup in Tampa’s favor was the early goaltending issues that we witnessed in Chicago. But, Corey Crawford has been very solid since, and that doesn’t bode well for the Lightning.

As I write this article, admittedly before game seven has concluded as it’s clear that Anaheim isn’t coming back, the Lightning are sitting at a 48.2 corsi-for with all situations considered throughout these playoffs. That puts them fifteenth among the sixteen playoff teams this year. Chicago, on the other hand, is fourth among playoff teams with a 51.8. I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right. That doesn’t tell the whole story. But, considering Chicago’s solid shot suppression ability, they’re built to immobilize offense’s like Tampa Bay. Oh, and they have some guys that can score goals as well.

Marian Hossa is one of them.

Tampa Bay has made a living through the post-season with their prolific offense and 2.75 goals-per game, but Chicago sits above them  with 3.19.

The only way I see the Lightning pulling this out is by undisciplined hockey on the part of Chicago, and that’s very unlikely. If it happens, Tampa Bay has a clear advantage on special teams and can steal a few games if the Blackhawks start marching to the penalty box.

Chalk me up for the Blackhawks in this one. I’ll take them in six games. And, of course, queue up more of the Sidney Crosby vs. Jonathan Toews conversation once it happens.

Actually, we already had a vote on that subject here… Written well before the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals were determined, but still fitting.

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