Want to know which team has the edge in special teams play, goaltending, or head coaching? This Stanley Cup betting preview article scrutinizes Chicago Blackhawks & Tampa Bay Lightning.
2015 Stanley Cup Finals Edges
The Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Lightning will square off in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs beginning on Wednesday. I’m going to break down the goaltending, special teams, and head coaches in this series.
Cory Crawford was extremely shaky in the Western Conference Quarterfinals series versus Nashville. As a matter of fact, he was pulled in that series opener, and backup Scott Darling replaced him as the starting goaltender for Games 2 through 4. Since returning in Game 5 versus Nashville, Crawford has accounted himself very well, and looks more like the goaltender we’ve been used to seeing in recent seasons. Crawford started in every playoff game when Chicago last won the Stanley Cup in 2011.
Ben Bishop has certainly had his moments during the postseason. After all, he posted a pair of Game 7 shutouts, first versus Detroit in the Lightning’s opening round series, and then versus the Rangers during the Eastern Conference Finals. However, he allowed five goals on three separate occasions in the conference finals, and was pulled from Game 6 at home during a 7-3 loss. It’s been either feast or famine during the playoffs for Bishop. In his defense, the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs have been Bishop’s first postseason experiences of his career.
Edge: Small advantage to Cory Crawford over Ben Bishop due to Stanley Cup Finals and postseason experience.
Chicago converted on 18% of their power play opportunities during the regular season which ranked #19 in the NHL. They’ve been a tad better during the playoffs at 19.6%.
Tampa Bay ranked #14 on the power play during the regular season, scoring on 19.5% of their man advantage opportunities. As those who have been backing them with NHL picks can confirm, they’ve been even better in the playoffs with a stellar 22.2% success rate.
Edge: Tampa Bay over Chicago
Chicago was less than impressive with their penalty killing during the regular season. Opponents were able to convert on 18.1% of their power play chances versus the Blackhawks. They certainly haven’t cleaned that aspect of their game up during the playoffs. They’ve allowed the opposition to score on 24.5% of their man advantage opportunities, and that includes 30% in the previous five games.
Tampa Bay was able to kill off a solid 83.4% of their shorthanded situations during the regular season. However, they’re only at 81.2% during the playoffs, and a horrible 70.6% in their previous five games.
Edge: Slight advantage to Tampa Bay.
There’s no doubt that Tampa Bay’s John Cooper is a head coaching star in the making. In only his second year at the helm, he’s proven to be both worthy and capable of matching wits with any head coach in hockey. Prior to being hired by Tampa Bay, Cooper had a superb minor league coaching career.
Head coach Joel Quennville’s postseason accomplishments with Chicago speak volumes. He’s won two Stanley Cups, been to the Western Conference Finals in five of the last seven years, and his team will be playing in their third Stanley Cup Finals over the past six seasons.
Edge: Joel Quennville over John Cooper.