Let’s deal with the capital ‘E’ Elephant in the room and say that I was much too blindly behind Vegas these whole playoffs. I thought the Demko-lack-of-scoring situation against Vancouver was an anomaly based on playing against a great goalie, but those struggles carried forward to the Dallas series and proved to be their undoing.
Now who knows how healthy Stone was by the end of that series, but damn did Dallas work for that win. Jamie Benn finally looks like the player that people have been saying he is, Denis Gurianov is shooting 110 MPH slapshot-series-winnerss and Anton Khudobin is apparently just going to be the best goalie in the world now.
I did actually get the Eastern Conference pick right, even if I thought the Islanders might suffocate the Lightning to a Game 7. Tampa heavily outplayed the Islanders that whole series, despite being pushed to six games. Brayden Point and Anthony Cirelli are both playing out of their minds, and Victor Hedman is on his way to one of the best postseason by a defenceman in NHL history. Hey, maybe Stamkos will finally be back too (probably not)!
Both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars are heading into these Finals looking to win the second Cup in franchise history. Dallas hasn’t been to the Finals in 20 years, and Tampa hasn’t made it this far since losing the 2015 Cup to the Chicago Blackhawks.
So before things kick off tonight in Game 1, here are 10 predictions for the Cup finals.
1. Miro Heiskanen will lead the series in points
In a series that will include Point and Nikita Kucherov, I think it will be Heiskanen who’s going to lead the series in points. He’s already made his case for the Conn Smyth should Dallas win, and if he outpaces two of the top forwards in the league, might as well engrave his name on the trophy now.
2. A Cirelli OT series-winner
Apparently Cirelli is going to score every OT-championship-clinching goal possible, so put this prediction on the board right now because this guy is just C-L-U-T-C-H.
3. Steven Stamkos returns
I don’t have much on this, but just looking at how excited Stamkos was when the Lightning won the Conference Finals kind of gives me hope that he’ll hopefully be able to suit up for the Cup.
When Stamkos is healthy, he’s a top-three goalscorer in the league, and when he’s not completely healthy he’s still a top-10 goalscorer. So either way, the Lightning are better with their captain in the lineup, especially on their power-play. I quite literally just got goosebumps thinking about it.
4. Joel Kiviranta scores another hat-trick
I boldly claimed on Twitter that Kiviranta was the best hockey player in the world, and I stand by that statement. He will score another hat-trick, probably in Game 7 to win it all, and prove once and for all that hockey makes absolutely no sense 100 per cent of the time.
5. We all laugh at Peter Chiarelli
This might be my only guarantee out of the bunch. I’m currently setting up an automatic code within my TV to trigger that four minute Peter Chiarelli-smooth-brain-300-IQ Youtube video of when he traded Tyler Seguin because he “relied on his skill” every time Seguin touches the puck. I suggest you do the same to enhance your hockey-viewing experience during these Stanley Cup Finals.
Because at the end of the day, isn’t fondly reminiscing bad Chiarelli deals what being a hockey fan is all about?
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