Chicago Blackhawks vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Stanley Cup Final Free Pick & Preview
Event: Chicago Blackhawks vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Stanley Cup Final 2015 Game 1
Venue: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida
Scheduled For: 8:00 PM ET, Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Line: Tampa Bay Lightning -125
Over/Under: 5 goals
Neither the Chicago Blackhawks or the Tampa Bay Lightning finished the regular season within the top-two spots in their respective conference, but both teams have proved themselves more than worthy to be battling it out in the Stanley Cup final 2015. The Blackhawks are coming into the final eyeing their third championship in six seasons while the Lightning are looking for their first since defeating the Flames over seven games back in 2004. The teams split two meetings during the regular season, and we’re sure to be in for a close series likely to go to seven games.
The Blackhawks needed six games to get past the Nashville Predators in the first round of the playoffs. Corey Crawford was chases off the ice in each of the first two games of the series and did not appear again until the last game of the series but has been immense ever since. They then cruised past the Minnesota Wild in four straight games before dispatching the Western Conference regular-season champions Anaheim Ducks in seven. The Blackhawks won three of the last four in the series scoring a total of 19 goals and their 3.29 goals per game average in the post-season is the third-best mark, which can be compared to the Lightning’s 2.75 in fourth.
Patrick Kane is leading the team with 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) and is going for his second Conn Smythe Trophy in three years while Jonathan Toews is right behind him with 18 (9 goals, 9 assists. We can also note that Duncan Keith, a two-time Norris Trophy winner, has seven points more than any other defender in the playoffs so far with his 18 (2 goals, 16 assists) while Victor Hedman is leading the Lightning’s defenders with 10 points (1 goal, 9 assists.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning have really had to earn their spot in the final. It took them seven games to get past the Detroit Red Wings in the first round and six to get past the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference semifinals after almost squandering a 3-0 lead in the series. They shut out the New York Rangers in the deciding Game 7 in the conference finals Friday, and their 2.45 GA/GP is quite a lot better than Chicago’s 2.94. Ben Bishop became the first goaltender in league history to notch a shutout in his first two Game 7 appearances as he shut out Detroit in the deciding Game 7 in the first round as well. The Lightning should have a slight goaltending advantage and might do better on special teams as well as the Blackhawks have struggled on the penalty kill throughout the playoffs.
Tyler Johnson has a league-best 21 points (12 goals, 9 assists) in the playoffs and his line-mates Nikita Kucherov (19 points, 9 goals, 10 assists) and Ondrej Palat (15 points, 7 goals, 8 assists) have been productive as well. Their captain Steven Stamkos has Steven 17 points (7 goals, 10 assists)
Trends & Conclusion
The Chicago Blackhawks have lost four straight meetings at Amalie Center but are 4-1 in their last 5 games playing on 3 or more days rest and 6-2 in their last 8 Stanley Cup Final games. The Tampa Bay Lightning are 8-3 in their last 11 games playing on 3 or more days rest but just 1-4 in their last 5 games following a win.
In such a close match-up you can never go wrong taking the plus-money, and we recommend a play on the Chicago Blackhawks.