Patrick Sharp

Here’s your 2015 Stanley Cup Final schedule

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After winning their respective Conference Final Game 7s, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks will play in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final.

The series will begin on Wednesday in Tampa Bay and can extend as late as June 17. Below is the complete schedule (all times are in ET):

Wednesday June 3 – Blackhawks at Lightning (Amalie Arena) – 8:00 p.m. on NBC
Saturday June 6 – Blackhawks at Lightning (Amalie Arena) – 7:15 p.m. on NBC
Monday June 8 – Lightning at Blackhawks (United Center) – 8:00 p.m. on NBCSN
Wednesday June 10 – Lightning at Blackhawks (United Center) – 8:00 p.m. on NBCSN
*Saturday June 13 – Blackhawks at Lightning (Amalie Arena) – 8:00 p.m. on NBC
*Monday June 15 – Lightning at Blackhawks (United Center) – 8:00 p.m. on NBC
*Wednesday June 17 – Blackhawks at Lightning (Amalie Arena) – 8:00 p.m. on NBC
* if necessary

This will be Tampa Bay’s first trip to the Stanley Cup Final since the Lightning won the championship in 2004. By contrast Chicago has made it this far three times in the last six years. This series also has the potential to produce some high scoring games as there’s no shortage as this series will feature Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, Alex Killorn, and Steven Stamkos on Tampa Bay’s side as well as Chicago’s Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, and Patrick Sharp.

Chicago’s Sharp on Game 7 confidence (and Mario Kart)

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Relatively speaking, big elimination games probably feel like something close to “old hat” for the Chicago Blackhawks. Perhaps that’s why Patrick Sharp seems pretty confident heading into Game 7 against the (once?) “Nervous Nelly” Anaheim Ducks.

Of course, it helps when you’re on a team that seems comfortable in just about every situation you can see in the postseason.

“I think we’re good. We’re healthy,” Sharp said. “We have a defense core that wants to be on the ice, that they’re fighting to jump over the boards, want to play the heavy minutes. ”

“Up front I think we’re feeling pretty good. Whether it’s a physical game or a wide-open game, we like that style of play. We’ll be ready for whatever they throw at us.”

It’s funny that Sharp uses the phrasing “whatever they throw at us,” as he also revealed the key to Blackhawks tranquility: Mario Kart. That quote almost seems to imply that the Blachawks are ready for the blue shell.

(You know, the blue shell is almost like a metaphor for the wild bounces in the playoffs, isn’t it? No? OK, fair enough …)

Sharp also might have ruffled a feather or two by revealing the team-wide Mario Kart standings:

“I got the standings in my back pocket,” Sharp said to laughter from the media. “[Niklas Hjalmarsson] is number one, [Andrew Shaw] is two, and this is going to cause some problems, but I’m number three.”

That’s video game bulletin board material, right?

Anyway, it’s no surprise that the Blackhawks seem confident about Saturday’s contest, and not just because they have an extra day off to heal up Nintendo thumb.

Video: Saad comes up short in first frame, opens floodgates in second

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With their season on the line, the Chicago Blackhawks had some great opportunities to strike first in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final, but they couldn’t quite capitalize in the opening frame.

Perhaps Chicago’s best chance of the first period occurred near the halfway mark when a turnover by Ryan Getzlaf led to a great opportunity in front by Brandon Saad. Goaltender Frederik Andersen was able to stretch out to make the save.

Chicago also nearly opened up this game late in the frame when Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen wasn’t able to control the puck in the neutral zone, which led to Patrick Sharp flinging a shot at Andersen. The Ducks goalie made the initial save, but surrendered a juicy rebound for Teuvo Teravainen. Unfortunately for Chicago, he ended up missing the net.

You can watch those plays below:

Saad got another chance to bury the puck in the second period though and this time he would not be denied:

That opened up the floodgates as Marian Hossa and then Patrick Kane both found the back of the net within four minutes of Saad’s marker.

Toews: We’re ready for this challenge

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Monday’s 5-4 overtime defeat has to be a tough one for Chicago to swallow. Nevermind that losing Game 5 pushed the Blackhawks’ to the brink of elimination; this is loss would have been frustrating at any point of the season. The Blackhawks start has be seen by them as simply unacceptable and their incredible late-game rally was spoiled by an early overtime error.

None of that seems to have soured Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews’ outlook though.

“We feel that we’re a tough team to get rid of,” Toews said, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “And now obviously the next game’s a must-win for us. A lot of guys, most guys, if not everybody in this room, definitely believe that that’s when we play our best, when our backs are against the wall. So we’re ready for that challenge.”

Chicago certainly has the experience to fall back on. The Blackhawks know what it takes to win, especially in high pressure situations.

“We’ve been through that before,” Patrick Sharp said. “We won the Stanley Cup with two goals in 17 seconds. They don’t get much higher than that. It’s a good series. Good team over there, good team in here.”

Winning two in a row against Anaheim will not be a small task. The Ducks haven’t suffered back-to-back losses yet in the playoffs and haven’t even been beaten in regulation yet. Chicago certainly has the talent to beat any team under the right circumstances and even tonight Toews showed why they can never be counted out.

This has been nothing if not an eventful Western Conference Final. With these two teams, it wouldn’t be surprising if Game 6 is more of the same.

Video: Chicago’s close calls in OT include a cross bar and breakaway save

The Chicago Blackhawks were outshot 17-5 in the first overtime in Game 4, but had two golden chances to win it and even the Western Conference Final with the Anaheim Ducks at two games apiece.

The first came on a scramble in the Anaheim crease, as Andrew Shaw hit the cross bar on a rebound opportunity to the right of Frederik Andersen. Credit Hampus Lindholm for immediately clearing the puck out of harm’s way, with Jonathan Toews looking at an open net.

And then there was Patrick Sharp, on a breakaway late in the extra period. Sent in all alone, he was unable to beat Andersen on the glove side.