After both teams battled through respective Game 7 matchups in their conference finals, the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning emerged as the top teams in the East and West and now they prepare to face off in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Blackhawks have been here before. Chicago has hoisted the Stanley Cup twice in the past five years and they hope to make three. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay has not won a Stanley Cup since 2004. Now both teams look to make history.
Chicago comes with a roster filled with finals veterans. Jonathan Towes told the media that they feel very comfortable in this position and understand how to handle the pressure. Winning this Cup would likely put all of those players as one of the best rosters in NHL history. Chicago would be the most accomplished club of the current era. It helps that Chicago has a roster filled with players in their prime. Patrick Kane believes the team will utilize their ability to outskate any team as they play fast and aggressive. That worked for their run in the Western Conference and they hope it happens again.
The issue for the Blackhawks could be depth problems. The team ran through the postseason with just four defensemen playing most of the minutes. Exhaustion has to be a factor despite their time off recently. The Anaheim Ducks took advantage of the extended minutes players like Duncan Keith were putting up and pounded the line. The Lightning will aim to do the same thing.
Tampa Bay has one of the youngest teams in the NHL as they make their second trip to a finals in franchise history. The only player on that winning roster still with Tampa Bay is Ondrej Palat who is not concerned about the club's inexperience. The Lightning worked well during their 20-game run in the Eastern Conference playoffs and look to keep momentum against Chicago.
Goaltending could be a main storyline as Ben Bishop and Corey Crawford go head-to-head. Neither player has been overly successful in this playoff run. Crawford does have the most experience in the situation while Bishop was the better of the two as he got to shutouts to end the Eastern Conference finals. They could be the biggest x-factors in the series.