The Stanley Cup Finals have essentially turned into a best two-out-of-three series, as the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning meet on Saturday night in Game 5 at Amalie Arena. Three players stand out entering this pivotal matchup: Tyler Johnson, Patrick Kane and the Lightning's goalie.
There is still no word as to who will start in goal for Tampa Bay. Ben Bishop was involved in the morning skate, but it's still unclear if Jon Cooper will give him the nod over young Andrei Vasilevskiy.
"[Vasilevskiy] is probably a little bit more prepared now," Bishop said. "He's a young kid but he's been through a lot. He's obviously played some big games, obviously none bigger than the last one. He comes in with a good resume. You see why he's as good as he is."
On the scoring side, Johnson has not provided the type of punch he showed in the early rounds of the playoffs. The 24-year-old has just one goal and one assist in four games, and claims he's "fine" when asked if he was battling an injury.
"Everyone is banged up when you play this long, 104 games," Johnson said. "When you play this long — I think it's 104 games already — you're going to be bumped up a little bit, but it doesn't matter right now. It's the Stanley Cup. There's a maximum three games left, and then you've got all summer to rest. You work this hard to get here. You want to win it."
Many believe that the Blackhawks have not gotten off a sufficient number of shots, and Kane has not helped. The 26-year-old only has one assist in the series, but was quick to point out that individual stats are a lower priority than the team effort.
“Obviously you want to help the team win in any way possible. If that’s scoring goals, great. If not, and it’s doing other stuff, setting up plays, playing good defensively, then that’s what it is this time of year. You know, all out for the win. That’s what we got to be concerned about, not individual stuff.”
The series has been extremely close from a statistical standpoint. Both clubs have scored nine goals and 24 penalty minutes in the series. Chicago has out-shot Tampa Bay, 107-104.
Time: 8:00 p.m.
TV Channel: NBC
Live Stream: http://stream.nbcsports.com/liveextra/#live-events
Point Spread: Tampa Bay favored by 1.5 goals
Over/Under: 5.5 goals
Prediction: Blackhawks over Lightning, 3-1