Stanley Cup Final Preview: A Blackhawks Fan’s Guide

And so we have finally arrived at the end of the road. No, we’re not going to embed a Boyz II Men video, but Wednesday begins the Stanley Cup Final. The Tampa Bay Lightning are chasing history in their third consecutive final; the Avalanche are in their first Cup Final in 20 years.

Something has to give. Will it be the championship pedigree and experience from Tampa or the young, ready to prove they have what it takes team from Denver that receives the greatest trophy in sports from Gary Bettman?

In a serendipitous moment on the calendar, the Lightning look to make their mark on NHL history beginning on the seventh anniversary of them losing the Stanley Cup Final on the ice at the United Center. Many of the Lightning players have spoken over the years about the learning experience that series against what was a dynasty has been for them in the coming years.

Schedule

  • Game 1: Wednesday @ Colorado — 7 PM CT — ABC
  • Game 2: Saturday @ Colorado — 7 PM CT — ABC
  • Game 3: Monday @ Tampa Bay — 7 PM CT — ABC
  • Game 4: June 22 @ Tampa Bay — 7 PM CT — ABC
  • Game 5*: June 24 @ Colorado — 7 PM CT — ABC
  • Game 6*: June 26 @ Tampa Bay — 7 PM CT — ABC
  • Game 7*: June 28 @ Colorado — 7 PM CT — ABC
    * – if necessary
  • Former Blackhawk Factor

    Colorado: None
    Tampa: Brandon Hagel, Jan Ruutta

    Ex-Hawk Edge: Tampa — it’s pretty obvious here. The Avs have zero former Blackhawks (maybe a good thing?) while the Bolts are hoping the premium they paid for Hagel was worth it. As a reminder, the Blackhawks received forwards Taylor Raddysh and Boris Katchouk — both of whom have two years remaining on their contracts — plus Tampa’s first-round picks in 2023 and 2024 for two years of Hagel.

    X-Factor

    Injuries — two specifically — could be the game-changer in this series. Both teams are missing one of their top centers; Tampa’s Brayden Point has been missing for a while now and Colorado lost Nazim Kadri late in their series against Edmonton on a hit that earned Evander Kane a night off.

    Both players are reportedly questionable for the series. Kadri had surgery on a thumb as a result of the Kane hit while Point has been skating for some time but hasn’t dressed for a game since May 14 (more than a full calendar month). If one/both can come back, that’s an enormous lift for both offenses. And Point was arguably the best forward on the ice for Tampa in their two championship runs.

    Blue Man Group

    Please, we’re begging you, do not take for granted how special this run has been for the Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s been 40 years since a team won three straight championships. We celebrated the Blackhawks winning three in the span of six seasons, so winning three in a row with all of the off-ice issues the pandemic has created for professional sports organizations would be a remarkable feat.

    Like the Blackhawks’ dynasty, this Tampa roster is full of future Hall of Famers. Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman and Andrei Vasilevskiy have written their names in the history books as some of the best to ever do it at their respective positions. And this is the first time in a long time that two Norris Trophy finalists — Hedman and Cale Makar — will face off in the Cup Final.

    Prediction

    Yes, we just begged you to not take the Lightning’s run for granted. Yes, we just praised them for their pedigree and mettle. But we’re taking the Avalanche in 6 games.

    written by

    Tab Bamford has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks for almost two decades. He joined Bleacher Nation as the lead Blackhawks writer in May 2022. Tab is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and is the author of two books about the Blackhawks: "100 Things Blackhawks Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" (Triumph Books) and "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter/X/Instagram/Threads at @The1Tab

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