After watching the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning pull off a pair of miraculous Game 7 road wins to reach the 2015 NHL Finals, the only question now is…who’s going to hoist this season’s Stanley Cup hardware? We’re going to examine that question plus the NHL odds and much more, but first, let me get started by dropping some Finals history knowledge.
NHL Finals History Betting FactIn the last 10 years, favorites have compiled a blistering 41-14 record since 2005. And just so you know, the Tampa Bay Lightning are currently -116 favorites to win Game 1 on Wednesday.
NHL Series OddsChicago -150Tampa Bay +130
Game 1 OddsTampa Bay -116Over/Under: 5
2015 NHL Finals Dates and Times (all times Eastern):Wednesday, June 3: at Tampa Bay, 8 p.m. NBC, CBCSaturday, June 6: at Tampa Bay, 7:15 p.m. NBC, CBCMonday, June 8: at Chicago, 8 p.m. NBCSN, CBCWednesday, June 10: at Chicago, 8 p.m. NBCSN, CBCSaturday, June 13: at Tampa Bay, 8 p.m. NBC, CBCMonday, June 15: at Chicago, 8 p.m. NBC, CBCWednesday, June 17: at Tampa Bay, 8 p.m. NBC, CBC
Tampa Bay LightningThe Lightning (50-24-3-5 SU) led the league in scoring during the regular season (3.2 goals per game) while also finishing fifth in shots against (27.9) and ninth in penalty kills (83.7). Second-year center Tyler Johnson has caught fire for Tampa Bay (41-41 ATS, 43-37-2 O/U) since the start of the postseason and will enter the 2015 NHL Finals with a postseason-leading 12 goals and 21points.
Kucherov is fourth in scoring this postseason with nine goals and 10 assists while team captain Steven Stamkos is ninth with seven goals and 10 assists. Johnson is the leader of Tampa Bay’s “Triplets” line that is flanked by Kucherov (65) and Ondrej Palat (63) a pair of wingers that both topped 60 points in the regular season.Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop leads all goaltenders in this year’s playoffs with 12 wins and three shutouts, including a pair in the Lightning’s road wins in Games 5 and 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers. Bishop is ranked seventh in goals-against-average this postseason (2.15).“We still haven’t accomplished anything yet,” Bishop said after the Game 7 win in New York. “We’re four wins away. It’s going to be probably the hardest four wins of all of our careers. We know there’s a lot ahead of us.”
Chicago BlackhawksThe Blackhawks (48-28-3-3 SU) will look to win their third Stanley Cup in the last six years after bringing home the bacon in both 2010 and 2013. Chicago (29-53 ATS, 26-43-13 O/U) ranked 17th in scoring in the regular season (2.7), but first in shot attempts and fifth in face-offs (52.0) The Hawks have upped their scoring in the postseason in ranking third in scoring (3.29).All-star right-winger Patrick Kane is third in postseason scoring with 10 goals and 20 total points in 17 games while defenseman Duncan Keith ranks fifth with a whopping 16 assists and two goals. All-star center Jonathan Toews is eighth in playoff scoring with nine goals and nine assists. The Blackhawks were also one of the best defensive teams in all of hockey this season as they ranked second in goals allowed (2.3) and 10th in penalty kills (83.4 percent). Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford has a .923 save percentage and 2.41 goals-against average in 13 postseason appearances.
Series Analysis: I know the Chicago Blackhawks are favored to win the 2015 NHL Finals because they are both, very good in every area of the game and seriously experienced having recently won two titles in 2010 and 2013. Nevertheless, I al going to pick the younger, faster and stronger Tampa Bay Lightning to pull off the series ‘upset’ for several reasons.First and foremost, I love Tampa Bay’s high-scoring offense and the fact that they will the best player on the ice this postseason on their side in Tyler Johnson. The Lightning also enter the finals with the statistical edge in offense, power plays and penalty kills, leading me to believe they will score their fair share of goals when they are on the power play while limiting Chicago a bit when they’re a man down.I know the Blackhawks will be making their third Stanley Cup finals appearance in six years while Tampa Bay missed the postseason in 2012 and 2013 but I also believe the Lightning’s enthusiastic young players won’t be overwhelmed by the moment.
Tampa Bay has scored six goals twice in their last half-dozen games while shutting out the opposition twice and giving up just one run in another game. Conversely, the Blackhawks have given up three runs or more three times in their last four games and five times in their last eight games overall. The pair split their regular season series 1-1 with Chicago beating Tampa Bay 3-2 on Nov. 11 before the Lightning extracted some revenge by spanking the Blackhawks 4-0, on Feb. 27