The Chicago Blackhawks sit just four wins away from winning their third Stanley Cup in six years, the closets thing to a dynasty we will likely see in the cap era. Only one thing stands in their way, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Lightning are the only team to face four original six teams in the playoffs. They dispatched Detroit in the Conference Quarterfinals, Montreal in the semis, New York in the finals and now have their sites set on Chicago.
This matchup will be strength vs. strength as Tampa Bay boasts the NHL's best offense--3.16 goals per game in the regular season--against the second best defense in Chicago--2.27 goals allowed per game. Both teams have also shown themselves to be versatile as well. Tampa was able to shutout the Rangers twice and Chicago scored 24 goals in seven games against Anaheim.
This is familiar territory for Chicago center Brad Richards who won a Conn Smythe...with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Richards was the pivotal piece of Tampa Bay's championship team in 2004. He is not going to win a Conn Smythe this year, but he will certainly play a role for the Blackhawks this series.
There are only four to seven games of hockey left this season, you better savor each one. The puck drops tonight at 8:00 p.m. in Tampa Bay. Watch it on NBC.