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2009-2010 NHL Stanley Cup Finals

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Contributor:
Scott Newman
Scott Newman

 This year’s Stanley Cup Final is not entirely the matchup that everyone had predicted. The number 2 seed Chicago Blackhawks have been dominant all season long with a good mindset for the playoffs. The big surprise is the eastern finalist number 7 seed Philadelphia Flyers who have total belief having come so far in the post season in what they have achieved. Who will be willing enough to win it all?

 

 

2009 - 2010 STANLEY CUP FINAL
 

 
2. Chicago Blackhawks 52-22-08 - 112 points vs. 7. Philadelphia Flyers 41-35-06 - 88 points
 

Chicago Blackhawks

 

How they got there:

Nashville Predators 4-2, Vancouver Canucks 4-2, San Jose Sharks 4-0

Last Stanley Cup Finals Appearance: 1992

Last Stanley Cup: 1961

Taking a look at the quality of the opposition that the young Blackhawks have dispatched reveals all really. They mean business and have been very serious and successful all season long. There is a young, fast puck moving and scoring depth feel to this team. They are getting the primary scoring from Captain Toews and Kane. The biggest surprise has been the offensive presence of Big Dustin Byfuglien who leads the team in goals with 8. He terrorised the Canucks and Sharks in particular with his size and strength going to the net. The forwards are getting good assistance for the defence which is complementing the exceptional work of the Blackhawks net minder Antti Niemi. The management has put trust in the core of the team signing them up for many years. They are the favourites to win the Stanley Cup with home ice for the series versus the Philadelphia Flyers.

The matchup against the Flyers

Regular Season: Chicago Blackhawks 2 – Philadelphia Flyers 3

The forwards are going to matchup very well with the Flyers depth, almost cancelling each other out with a steady balance. Marian Hossa has been to the Stanley Cup finals in the last two seasons losing with The Detroit Red Wings and The Pittsburgh Penguins. Now he has another chance to be third time lucky. So far he has underachieved with a mere two goals. If anyone has a lot to prove it will be from him and his point per game abilities. Jon Toews is having a Conn Smythe like playoff run in leading the team in scoring. The Defence is very mobile and quick, they like to join the rush and are quick enough to get back. Duncan Keith has been very impressive. They are a little smaller than the Flyers blue line but have been great during their run. The goalies are both new to the playoffs but have shown that they can beat the best of them. Now one of them has to make a big name for themselves.

Top Blackhawk Forwards:                Goals Assists  Points

Jonathan Toews                                 7            19          26

Patrick Kane                                        7            13          20

Patrick Sharp                                      7              9          16

Marian Hossa                                      2              9          11

Dustin Byfuglien                                 8              2          10

Dave Bolland                                      5              5          10

 

Top Blackhawk Defensemen:          Goals Assists Points

Duncan Keith                                       1              9          10

Brent Seabrook                                   3              6            9

Niklas Hjalmarsson                            1              4            5

Brian Campbell                                   0              3            3

 

Blackhawk Goaltenders:                  GAA    SV%     SO

Antti Niemi                                           2.33     .921     2

Cristobal Huet                                     0.00     .100     0

 

The Blackhawks will win if:

They take the best opportunity of home ice. They have a 5 win 3 loss record at home. (7-1 on the road.) They need to carry on what they have been doing in playing fast, physical and making sure the special teams remain their strength. The goaltending from Niemi has been solid so they have to stop guys like Briere, Gagne, Carter and Richards driving to the net. The Flyers will be physical so they must make sure they play with the same poise they have shown. People may think this will be over quickly so the Blackhawks need to be mature against a very capable Flyers outfit. The confidence is certainly there for the Blackhawks.

Philadelphia Flyers

 

How they got there:

New Jersey Devils 4-1, Boston Bruins 4-3, Montreal Canadiens 4-1

Last Stanley Cup Finals Appearance: 1997

Last Stanley Cup: 1975

 They have dodged bullets the whole season long. They needed to win the last regular season match in overtime against the New York Rangers to qualify for the post season. Then Brian Boucher outplayed Martin Brodeur beating the Devils with relative ease. (I thought The Devils could win the cup!) Then the epic come back from being 3-0 down then winning 4-3 being the third team in playoff history to do so. They also lost Boucher to injury in this series. Then the Habs were the magical team in the eastern final but could not match the enthusiasm and determination of the Flyers. I like the storyline as the Flyers are by far and wide the underdog and I think they like this title. Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne were injured most of the series and have proved to be clinical in the success of the Flyers Run. Also Claude Giroux, Danny Briere and Chris Pronger have been huge in the playoffs. Mike Richards is the Captain of the Flyers who has won so much in hockey. Now the biggest trophy is up for grabs. You could see in Philly net minder Michael Leighton’s eyes what it means to be in the final as he like Boucher has bounced from team to team their whole career to find themselves playing for everything in a Cinderella run.   

The matchup against the Blackhawks

Luckily, the Flyers have found health at the right time for the Blackhawks. Gagne & Carter are back. Boucher is on his way if not will be ready for backup duties. The experience that Briere and Pronger give is enormous as they both have much valuable playoff records. The Flyers have plenty of match winners as well as surprise depth from Leino and defenseman Carle. The forwards are tough with Carcillo and Hartnell in the line up to compliment the skills of the others. The Blue line is experienced in Timonen and Pronger as they have been big time players for them all season long. The goaltending has been very dramatic in Philly with Ray Emery going on long term Injury Reserve bringing in Boucher/Leighton seemed crazy but it has paid off huge as they are both very hungry for the cup. The matchup with the Blackhawks is somewhat equal overall with perhaps the goaltending and special teams being the telling tale?

Top Flyers Forwards:                                    Goals Assists Points

Mike Richards                                      6            15          21

Danny Briere                                        9              9          18

Claude Giroux                                      8              9          17

Ville Leino                                             4              8          12

Simon Gagne                                       7              3          10

Scott Hartnell                                        3              5            8

 

Top Flyers Defensemen:                   Goals Assists Points

Chris Pronger                                       4            10          14

Matt Carle                                               0            10          10

Kimmo Timonen                                  0              8            8

Braydon Coburn                                  1              2            3

 

Flyers Goaltenders:                           GAA    SV%     SO

Michael Leighton                              1.45     .948     3

Brian Boucher                                    2.33     .915     1

The Flyers will win if:

They can split the series in the first two games at Chicago. They need to win on the road to win the Cup they need to start to win early to have a chance. The Flyers are 7 wins and 1 loss at home. 5 Wins 4 Loss on the road. They need to be perfect on the road to succeed. Special teams are so very important in this series so discipline will be at the top of the list. No bad penalties and interestingly the Flyers are a competent counter attacking team scoring a lot shorthanded goals. They cannot rely on this to get through. They need to be patient and take all the scoring opportunities they can as Niemi can fold under the pressure but has been generally great. Philly prove to be the big upsetters on a roll. They need to carry on all of this and more to pull off one of the great surprise Cup runs of all time.

Stanley Cup Prediction:

I like this match up and believe that if the Flyers can split the series on the road then they are a genuine chance to go long into the series. The longer it goes the more it plays into the Flyers hands. Chris Pronger needs to be huge as he has been to many finals in the last 5 years. Hossa also needs to be massive in getting over his despair in the playoffs. The Flyers have done an amazing effort to get to where they are almost unbelievable. The Blackhawks have been professional and clinical in getting to where they are beating arguably better teams than what the Flyers have. The West has been very deep where the East has been competitive and close. All signs point to the Blackhawks but I feel the Flyers have something special about them. This will be closer than what most think! CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS in SEVEN GAMES (at home) 

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