We're down to the final round, the one that really counts for all the hockey marbles.
Starting in just a few hours, the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning will begin their best-of-seven series for all the hockey marbles, the 15th and final of the 2015 playoff series. To help Dallas Stars fans decide which bandwagon to jump on, we here at Defending Big D have put together our final slate of predictions, now with picks of our new writers as well.
The final update on the internal DBD prediction leaderboard is as follows - Erin is in solo first place with 11 correct series picks and four number of games predictions. Taylor leads by a tiebreak in a pack with 10 correct picks, having nailed the number of games five times. Derek, being the only member of the staff to pick the Rangers to advance from the Conference Finals, fell back one spot and is now tied for third with Robert with 10 correct picks and three number of games, and Wes is fifth by the tiebreak, with 10 and two respectively.
Our esteemed leader, Josh Lile, is right there as well with nine correct picks and one number of games, and Huw has predicted seven series correctly with two game totals right.
That's right. Now, on to the predictions one last time:
Josh Lile, Managing Editor
Tampa is as deep up front as Chicago and much deeper on the blueline. I'll take Bishop over Crawford most days too. Tampa in six.
Erin Bolen, Editor
I could make lots of arguments here about the depth of the forward scoring ability of Tampa, the playoff experience of the Hawks, Tyler Johnson's made-of-magic postseason or that damn Jonathan Toews. But I'll go with my heart instead of trying to convince my head either way. Tampa in six.
Taylor Baird, Editor
I don't think Corey Crawford is going to be able to keep out enough of the Lightning's offensive power to backstop the team to a win. Give me Tampa in 6.
Huw Wales, Staff Writer
It's going to be a long series. The Bolts have got lots of skill and speed and however good the Blackhawks are I think the Lightning are just ahead in the match up. It'll all probably come down to the goalies and my instincts says that Bishop will win this goalie duel. Tampa in seven.
Robert Tiffin, Staff Writer
From a viewer's perspective, this is the Final we wanted from day one. The Lightning will win at least one game by more than five goals, but the Hawks are too well-versed in their own system, and they'll outwait Tampa more often than not. Unless Ducan Keith's legs fall off, I'll take Hawks in 6.
Derek Neumeier, Staff Writer
Chicago's lack of depth has to catch up to them at some point...right? The team's big guns will keep them battling right until the bitter end, but Tampa Bay just has too many players rolling right now. Chicago won't be able to contain both The Triplets line and the Stamkos line. Lightning in 7
Wesley Lawrence, Staff Writer
Can the Chicago Blackhawks win a Stanley Cup with four defensemen? They're certainly going to try. They're also going to have to hide Brad Richards' heavy legs from the speedy bolts. Kane vs. Johnson should be an interesting battle of undersized-yet-elite playmakers. Toews vs. Stamkos is tasty, but the series is likely going to hinge on whichever of Ben Bishop or Corey Crawford manages to play more up games than down. I think it's going to be Crawford, but only barely. Hawks in 7
Bonus prediction: this is the last hurrah for the 'Hawks as a serious cup contender and just the first for an ascendant TB squad.
David Castillo, Staff Writer
Both goaltenders have had shaky moments here and there, so this is a preemptive wash. Yes, Chicago's defense has taken a hit, but it's functionally intact with a) Keith and Seabrook being relied on more and b) the defensive punch in the form of forwards Toews, Hossa, and Vermette. Chicago has shined against stronger opposition (Nashville and Anaheim were better than anyone Tampa played IMO). Tampa is stacked on offense, and defense but they don't blend their strengths as seamlessly. Then again they got through Price and Lundqvist. Hard to say, but I'll go Chicago in 5.
Marcus Dingler, Staff Writer
The young blood up-and-coming Lightning appear to be ready for the throne. The Hawks have been there before, and their innate ability to "just win baby" is pretty overwhelming. They are playing 4 defensemen and their goalie has shown the ability to lose games by himself. This series has several intriguing matchups and it will be interesting to see how Coach Q wants to play. Does he put Toews on Stamkos or Johnson? The Lightning have the look of a dynasty in the making, but as our friend Aerosmith once said, "you have to lose to know how to win". Hawks in 6.
Melissa Flandreau, Staff Writer
It comes down to the wire in this one. Bishop doesn’t play lights out, but his effort is still good enough to give Stamkos and co. a chance to do their thing against a tired Blackhawks defense and a shaky Crawford. After all, Keith can’t play the whole game. Lightning in 7.
Kathleen Tibbetts, Staff Writer
Now see, this is what they call a loaded question: Every possible answer is a bullet waiting to blow your brains out. Both teams play some of their best hockey when they're desperate, so it comes down to whether depth or experience will count for more. Wolverine jokes aside, I don't know how many more 32-minute games Duncan Keith has in him. Tampa in seven.