By James McKinnie / @MrESPN
And then there were two …
The Stanley Cup Final is finally set, and the last two teams standing are arguably the two fastest teams in the NHL. They’re also two of the most entertaining teams the league has to offer.
The star power alone could provide enough gusto to bring back some of the casual fans Gary Bettman and the league lost in the last decade due to the recent lockouts.
On the experienced side you have Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.
On the upstart side you have Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman.
The Chicago Blackhawks are going for their third Stanley Cup in six years. One could call that a dynasty. Such a feat hasn’t been accomplished since their archrival, the Detroit Red Wings, hauled in three Cups in six years.
As the Blackhawks began their championship run, the Tampa Bay Lightning began its rebuild.
On May 25, 2010, the Lightning hired the Red Wing god, the great Steve Yzerman, to be its new vice president and general manager. In his first year on the job, Stevie Y made a move here and a move there that would eventually result in the team making it to the Eastern Conference Final and one game from the Stanley Cup Final. This occurred just one season after the Lightning lost 36 games and only registered 80 points. Since then, the team has struggled to stay healthy and make a true impact on the league.
Not only have the Lightning reached the Stanley Cup Final, but it's beaten three of the "Original 6" teams in the Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers. None of those wins came easy. Each series extended to at least six games, with two going the seven-game distance. Needless to say, these young guns are here to stay.
The Chicago Blackhawks, on the other hand, were one game away from having three straight Cup Final appearances. Their run at the top has been equally impressive due to the way they’ve built their team through the draft, beginning with Toews and Kane.
One tweet perfectly summarizes the Blackhawks captain:
JONATHAN TOEWS IS THE MOST UNDERRATED SUPERSTAR IN SPORTS
— Kyle Madson (@MadSports8) May 31, 2015
Like Kyle, many others believe Toews doesn’t get his due. When you look at the numbers, the argument is justified.
He hasn’t scored more than 34 goals or registered more than 76 points in one NHL season.
Although he doesn’t put up the “superstar numbers,” the captain makes timely plays and scores timely goals.
Just look at this past series against Anaheim.
After putting up only one goal against the Minnesota Wild in the second round, Toews stepped up to score five goals in the conference finals. He willed his team to victory, scoring two goals in Game 5 and Game 7, respectively.
Along with Patrick Kane, the Blackhawks might boast the best tag team of players in the NHL. Good luck to the Tampa Bay Lightning in preventing these two from winning Chicago another Stanley Cup.
Players must be 21 years of age or older or reach the minimum age for gambling in their respective state and located in jurisdictions where online gambling is legal. Please play responsibly. Bet with your head, not over it. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, and wants help, call or visit: (a) the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey at 1-800-Gambler or www.800gambler.org; or (b) Gamblers Anonymous at 855-2-CALL-GA or www.gamblersanonymous.org.
This site is using Cloudflare and adheres to the Google Safe Browsing Program. We adapted Google's Privacy Guidelines to keep your data safe at all times.