Chicago Blackhawks vs Philadelphia Flyers. Get ready for a hard hitting Stanley Cup Finals. These teams are red hot heading into Gane 1. Chicago knocked off the Predators (4-2) and Coyotes (4-2) before clobbering San Jose in four straight to reach the finals. Philadelphia stunned opening round opponent New Jersey in 5. Boston was next blew a 3 games to none lead before Philly stormed back including overcoming a 3-0 deficit in Game 7. Riding a new high the 7th ranked Flyers disposed of #8 Montreal in 5.
Breaking it down.
Chicago enters the Finals trying to wipe out a 49 year Cup drought. This is just the squad to do it. On offense it's been a complete team effort. Eight different players scored 17 or more goals and four handed out 40 or more assists. Team theme play continuing on full throttle. Dustin Byfugien netted 8. Jonathan Toews leads all Playoff scorers with 26 points (7 G, 19 A). Five players have 9 or more assists. How can Philadelphia match up? They can't. The Blackhawks will continue applying pressure. This time they take aim at Flyers net minders. Between the pipes for Chicago has been a red hot Antti Nemi (12-4, 2.33 - 2 shutouts). 2009-10 Chicago Blackhawks represents best squad in recent franchise memory.
Philadelphia seems to take advantage of every little mistake. Most had these guys left for dead after falling behind Boston 3-0. Never say die Flyers are rolling. Not many gave them any shot against the Devils. Even less vs Boston. Many are now wondering after they eliminated cinderella Montreal. Statistically, Philly's regular season individual totals didn't turn any heads. Mike Richards (31 G, 31 A) and Jeff Carter (33 G, 28A) led the attack with only netted 236 goals. What is turning heads has been the stellar performance turned in by understudy goalie Michael Leighton. Leighton has been a gem. 8-1 sporting a 1.45 goals against average. He's the key. If able to stop Chicago onslaughts??? Anything is possible. The Flyers rely on physical play from pounding hits on the boards to disrupting center ice play. Clean crisp passing and puck protection represent the biggest musts for the Flyers to prevail.
Prediction: Chicago's plan is to bring aggressive play by all lines into the Flyers zone. Philadelphia hopes jarring hits and mid ice pickoffs are enough to throw the Blackhawks off their game. Leighton has been nearly impossible to beat in net. Chicago will certainly test his nerve. 'Hawks too strong and well balanced for Philly to handle.
Chicago in 5!