NHL Playoffs – Blackhawks vs Lightning Series Predictions

Blackhawks vs Lightning

The 122nd edition of the Stanley Cup will be played in 2015 between the Chicago Blackhawks, trying to win it for the sixth time, and the Tampa Bay Lightning, a much younger with franchise with only one championship to their name.

For the Chicago Blackhawks, this is just another chapter in possibly the most dominant era in the franchise’s history. It’s their third Stanley Cup visit in six years, winning the previous two (2010, 2013). Add that to making the conference finals in 2009 and 2014, and you get a team that’s been very close to winning it all or simply doing it in every season over the last seven years.

The Tampa Bay Lightning do have a Stanley Cup title from 2004. But things haven’t been consistent for them since beating the Flames in seven games that year. They made the conference finals in 2011, losing to the Bruins in seven games, but then missed the playoffs two years in a row. Last year they got swept by the Habs in the first round, and this year have played 20 games even before the Cup finals begin.

In terms of goals, the Blackhawks are third in the postseason so far with 3.29 per game. The Lightning trail them with 2.79. Despite what happened in the series against the Rangers, things are a lot quicker in Chicago games, with a lot more shots on both sides, relying on a 92% save percentage, just above Tampa Bay’s 91.3%, which is ninth in the playoffs so far.

Maybe the more interesting differences come in how these two teams handle the Power Play situations, which should come in handy considering the Lightning lead the playoffs in penalty minutes (total), ranking 7th on average with 11.05. The Blackhawks don’t get into that much trouble, with players spending less than eight minutes per game penalized.

Tampa Bay are 8th in the postseason so far in penalty killing at 81.2%. The Blackhawks are near the bottom of the pool in that regard, stopping the power play on 75.5% of the time. They lead, together with Tampa Bay, the rankings of short handed goals, with 3 for each team. The Lightning have more power play goals than anyone else in the postseason with 16 (22.2% success). The Blackhawks have 10 of them, converting 19.6% of the time.

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