Less than a week after knocking off the Pacific division champion Anaheim Ducks, the Chicago Blackhawks are back where they seemingly belong, in the Stanley Cup Finals. Getting to the Western Conference Finals looked like a walk in the park, trampling over Nashville in the first round, and pouncing on the Wild in round two, the Hawks stumbled a bit in the Western Finals, but there was never any doubt that they’d be back. Dominating game six at the United Center, the Blackhawks waltzed into Anaheim and game 7 like they had already won. Whether it was their fearless leader Jonathan Toews, or the magic hands that stem from the 88 sweater of Patrick Kane, the Hawks seem impervious to the pressure they have put on themselves to create an unheard of dynasty in today’s salary capped NHL.
I don’t want to take away from the unreal talent we’ve seen emerge from Tampa since the playoffs have started either. The triplets line of Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, and Nikita Kucherov, along with Captain Steven Stamkos, have been putting up stat lines that even our beloved “Russian Five” would have to look twice at. Can these kids really carry this Bolts team back to glory? Return them to the ultimate state of bliss that has yet to be felt in Tampa since 2004? The short answer is no. The long answer, there is no way that a team as young. inexperienced, and sporadic in scoring, can beat a Blackhawks team that knows they’re better, knows they’re more seasoned in this pattern of getting knocked down, just to get back up. The biggest problem for Tampa is that this Chicago team doesn’t get knocked down. From Bickell, Shaw and Kruger, to Keith, Oduya and Seabrook, they hurt you, they break you, and then finally when you think they’re about to let up, they use under appreciated and overwhelming speed from the blue line to bury you.
The way Tampa has gotten to these finals has been fun, entertaining, and interesting to watch, but Chicago has been dominate, and at times simply majestic on the ice. They still have to play the games, but all that’s left to settle is how long Tampa can hold on before the superhuman-like shadow of the Blackhawks casts over them, before the Hawks are crowned Kings of the hockey world, yet again. So all I ask of this Bolts team, don’t give in, don’t believe the Chicago hype, go out there, and show me something.