Wow! After both Conference Finals went to game-seven, the 2014-15 postseason is down to two teams. The Tampa Bay Lightning, which vanquished three "Original Six" teams, and the Chicago Blackhawks, who overcame a 3-2 series deficit to knock out the powerful Anaheim Ducks, are set for a winner-takes-all, best-of-seven matchup kicking off Wednesday evening.
For the second straight round of LBC's predictions contest, community member Devin N came out on top in a tiebreaker over Panther_fan93. Those two were the only participants who picked both series-winners and each received a bonus point for taking the Bolts in seven. It came down to total goals in the Ducks-Blackhawks series and Devin's choice of 31 was closer to the actual number of 46 than Panther_fan93's 29. Well done, sir. Most participants went 1-1 in the third round while only two entrants ended up going 0-2.
Get your picks in for the Stanley Cup final. We will be looking for the following: The winning team, the number of games the series will end in, and for tiebreakers: total goals in the series and the player that will score the Stanley Cup-winning goal.
Tampa Bay - Chicago: There is something very special going on with the Lightning this spring, though it shouldn't be seen as ridiculously surprising, given Tampa Bay's current roster and a few players emerging a season or two earlier than hoped for. I've had the Bolts as a favorite throughout the playoffs, but in heart only; never imagined a Montreal meltdown, nor a Rangers club which appeared lost and confused. Maybe it's the timing, perhaps luck, but the Lightning sure look exceptionally strong at every position. If Steven Stamkos and (especially) Ben Bishop continue their remarkably focused play, this series ends with Tampa's second Cup. Bolts in six games.
Tiebreaker: total goals in series: 45
Super tiebreaker: Player who will scores Cup-winning goal: Alex Killorn
Tampa Bay - Chicago: As good as they are, for some reason, I never really pictured Chicago making it this far, but now I'm kind of glad they did. No disrespect to the Ducks (who I picked to win it all both at the start of the season and then again at the start of the playoffs), having one of the old-school, big-market teams in the final is always good for business. That said, Tampa Bay seems to be a team of destiny. If they can control Chicago's engine (Jonathan Toews) and get back to basics on home ice, I think they will win another one for the Sunbelt. Tampa Bay in six.
Tiebreaker: total goals in series: 39
Super tiebreaker: Player who will scores Cup-winning goal: Ondrej Palat
Tampa Bay - Chicago: Chicago made Anaheim look like Edmonton in game seven of their Western Conference Final. There is no possible way that could have just been Anaheim being that inept. The 'Hawks studied the Ducks' game and dismantled it, making Ryan Getzlaf and crew look like amateurs along the way. I hope Tampa Bay brings the Cup back to the Sunshine State, and will be rooting for them, but I just see the Blackhawks clicking. Chicago is too good right now. Chicago in Five.
Tiebreaker: total goals in series: 21
Super tiebreaker: Player who will scores Cup-winning goal: Has to be Jonathan Toews.
Tampa Bay - Chicago: Way back at the beginning of the year, I said that Chicago would beat Tampa in the Stanley Cup finals for their third trophy in six years. Now that we've reached this point, however, I can't find it in my heart to go against the Bolts. Tampa Bay in seven.
Tiebreaker: total goals in series: 34
Super tiebreaker: Player who will scores Cup-winning goal: Let's go off the board; Vladislav Namestnikov.
Tampa Bay - Chicago: The Hawks got here for many reasons but I believe the biggest reason is their ability to come back from what seem like insurmountable odds in the closing minutes of a game. The Hawks DON'T give up. They have played 60 minute games+ throughout the postseason. Their opponents give uo a little and the Hawks take a lot. Tampa would be wise to match that tenacity but the inexperience may get the better of them. Chicago in six.
Tiebreaker: total goals in series: 25
Super tiebreaker: Player who will scores Cup-winning goal: Brad Richards because why not do it against the team he got his 1st ring from?