2 Aggressive NHL Teams Take To The Ice In Game 1 Of Stanley Cup Finals
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
As every hockey fan knows, the Stanley Cup Final kicks off tonight. It is shaping up to be quite a classic series. The veteran Chicago Blackhawks are taking on a young, talented Tampa Bay Lightning team in a best-of-seven series. Game 1 is in Tampa Bay. We've reached Greg Wyshynski. He is editor of Yahoo Sports' Puck Daddy blog. He's on the line with us. Hey, Greg.
GREG WYSHYNSKI: Good morning.
GREENE: On your blog, the headline that caught my eye, "How Much Do You Love This Stanley Cup Final Matchup?" How much do we love it? Why are you so excited?
WYSHYNSKI: We should really love it. It's two teams that are going to be aggressive on the ice. They like to control the puck. It's not going be anybody sitting back on their heels and stacking five players in their own defensive zone. And then off the ice, it's got all of the narrative things that you'd love to see in a classic underdog-versus-favorite series, sort of a David versus Goliath thing if David was really, really, really, good (laughter). You have this Blackhawks team that's looking for their third Stanley Cup in six seasons versus this Tampa Bay Lightning team, which is the younger team, which is the less experienced team, and, of course, which is the team from Florida versus the team from Chicago, part of the heralded Original Six National Hockey League franchises.
GREENE: Well, let me first ask you about Chicago, Greg, because the team you're talking about, win or lose, because of salary cap issues, they could be dismantled. Some of these players might have to go. Does that add some urgency to getting one more championship for the team and for the city of Chicago before that happens?
WYSHYNSKI: I think it does because in the previous two championships they've won, they've managed to keep their core group of players together. That's kind of why I feel this is a dynastic team. It's the same core group that will have won three Cups together. But this one does seem like the one in which they're going to have to start shaving off some players from that core simply because they've had to hand out some massive contracts to star players like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith over the years. So there is a sense of urgency. There is a sense of this being the last run for this group.
GREENE: Well, and let's go south to Florida. And I mean, Tampa, not as classic a hockey city as you think about them. I guess a lot of their fans wear jerseys and shorts, which is not something I would ever wear to a hockey game. But they brought in such a big name as their GM, Steve Yzerman, a hockey great. How has he pulled together such a group of young talent?
WYSHYNSKI: Tampa's an interesting hockey market in the sense that I think of all of the Sun Belt teams that often get criticized by our neighbors to the north for not, quote-unquote, "deserving hockey," I've always sort of held up Tampa like a cross to a vampire and said, you know, this is the market where it's worked. I mean, it's got a huge fan base. But what really pushed Tampa's identity forward was the hiring of Steve Yzerman as GM. And he has constructed this team in a pretty meticulous way. I mean, he's been blessed with some young players coming into the lineup. But he's also been able to augment them with some very smart, free agent acquisitions. So he's taken a young team and injected some prestige DNA into their makeup.
GREENE: Prestige DNA, I like that phrase. Who are you picking?
WYSHYNSKI: I am picking the Blackhawks in six. Maybe it's because I'm an old guy, but I prefer the - I prefer the veteran savvy to the upstarts.
GREENE: We've been speaking to the Puck Daddy Greg Wyshynski. He is editor of Yahoo Sports' Puck Daddy blog. Enjoy the hockey, Greg. Thanks a lot.
WYSHYNSKI: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.