The Chicago Blackhawks are no stranger to the Stanley Cup Final.
It has been a constant point of conversation, ever since the ‘Hawks punched their ticket to their third Final in five years, setting up a date with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Lightning are on the other side of the spectrum: young, and ready to take the next step, just as the Blackhawks did when they won the Stanley Cup in 2010.
Though the experience factor is well in the Blackhawks’ favour, taking down the Lightning, and winning their third Cup in six seasons, will not be a walk in the park.
With the 2015 Stanley Cup Final kicking off tonight in Tampa, we count down the top five worries the Blackhawks should have about their Eastern Conference opponents.
#5: A Beefed-Up Blue-Line
The Blackhawks had no trouble scoring against the Anaheim Ducks: one look at Frederik Andersen‘s GAA will tell you that. However, they were facing a relatively inexperienced defense core, with four defensemen under the age of 25, and only one defenseman in his thirties: Francois Beauchemin. The Lightning’s blue-line is certainly a different animal.
While there is lots of youth on the Bolts’ defense, Anton Stralman, Brayden Coburn, and Jason Garrison offer some battle-tested grit among them. Viktor Hedman is the Lightning’s own Duncan Keith; a minute-munching defenseman that’s dangerous on both sides of the puck.
For an offense that’s taken down the likes of Zdeno Chara, Drew Doughty, Shea Weber, and Ryan Suter in the past two years, it certainly is something they can handle. However, look for the Bolts’ defense to take center stage at some point in this series.