– Alex Pickel
Guest columnist Alex Pickel has joined the Hard Foul Team to cover this year’s NHL Stanley Cup final. Be on the lookout for Alex’s column throughout the series.
The final round of the Stanley Cup Finals has arrived, and it is full of top storylines. The Chicago Blackhawks will face the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight in Tampa starting at 8 p.m. on NBC Network. Chicago is going after its’ third Stanley Cup in six years, while Tampa Bay is pursuing their first cup since 2004. Will Tampa’s young stars be able to stop Chicago’s veteran packed lineup? Key players to watch for on the Lightning roster are: Captain Steven Stamkos (91), Tyler Johnson (9), Nikita Kucherov (86) and Victor Hedman (77). Key players on the Blackhawks to watch for are: Captain Johnathan Toews (19), Patrick Kane (88), Marian Hossa (81), Duncan Keith (2), Patrick Sharp (10) and Brent Seabrook (7).
All six key Chicago players are seeking their third Stanley Cup under Coach Joel Quenneville, and I believe they will win it. This series will go seven games with Chicago clinching it in the second overtime. Hopefully that will not be the only overtime game, because both teams will bring a ton of action each game. Prediction: 4-3 Chicago Blackhawks.
My sleeper picks to have a standout series include Tampa Bay’s Ryan Callahan (24) and Chicago Blackhawks’ Brad Richards (91). Each player has the potential to be a game changer in this series.
Fun Facts: Tampa Bay Lightning will have faced four of the original six NHL teams this playoffs, beating already the Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens and the New York Rangers. The Chicago Blackhawks are -150 favorite to win the series, while Tampa Bay is +130 underdog, despite having home ice advantage. (OddsShark NHL Database)
By Alex Pickel