Flyers to Battle Blackhawks for Lord Stanley’s Cup

Richardsgoingtocup

That was one hell of a game at the Wachovia Center last night.  I was lucky enough to see the game 9 rows from the ice in section 121. The game couldn't of turned out any better.

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Now that the Flyers are in the Stanley Cup, here is a breakdown of the series, with my prediction at the bottom:

OFFENSE: Let's face it, the Hawks have indescribable offensive depth. With Jonathan Toews (pronounced "Taze"…what a bitch), Patrick Kane, and Dustin Byfuglien up front, followed by Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, and Troy Brouwer on the second line… the Flyers have their work cut out for them. Chicago will be the first team that the Flyers will face that are a legitimate offensive threat; furthermore, the Hawks are the fastest team that the Flyers will have seen thus far. The Flyers have plenty of offensive depth of their own, especially with the return of Jeff Carter and the re-emergence of Simon Gagne. But the Hawks have an edge here.  ADVANTAGE: Chicago

DEFENSE: One word: Pronger. This guy is an absolute warrior. But, what's even more surprising is how many Hawks fans and analysts are overlooking Kimmo Timonen. This guy is quietly one of the best defensive defenseman in the league, and has the capability to shut down most lines on the second pair. The Flyers simply stifled Montreal on most occasions throughout the Finals, playing the best defense of any team in the NHL throughout the playoffs. The Hawks have a formidable defense as well, led by Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. But I'll take Pronger and Timonen on most nights. Oh, and the Blackhawks have Kim Johnsson…score one for the Flyers. ADVANTAGE: Philadelphia

GOALTENDING: Antti Niemi versus Michael Leighton. Both goalies took over for their respective teams full-time midway through the season. Leighton missed time with an ankle injury, but returned against Boston and has played admirably since. Playoff hockey is uncharted waters for both goaltenders. While I expect Leighton to be tested more in the Cup than he has been in previous rounds, I think he stands tall. Niemi will make some amazing saves, but remember that the Flyers have already bested Martin Brodeur, Tuukka Rask, and Jaroslav Halak: three outstanding goaltenders. ADVANTAGE: None

SPECIAL TEAMS: The Blackhawks powerplay has converted their opportunities 22.6% of the time throughout these playoffs. Toews is the NHL powerplay goals leader with 5. The Flyers aren't far behind, clicking at a rate of 20.7%. Philadelphia killed off 21 of 22 opportunities versus Montreal, raising their playoff PK percentage to 87.0%. Having Lappy back on the PK is huge, and Blair Betts has been amazing on the PK as well. Chicago kills penalties 86.6% of the time. In my opinion, special teams comes out in the wash. ADVANTAGE: None

X-FACTOR: I don't care what Barry Melrose's ugly-ass mullet has already told you. The Flyers ARE a team of destiny. I have never seen a team play like shit for so long during the regular season all of the sudden gel together when it counts. The Flyers play their best with the backs against the wall. With many people picking Chicago to win the series, the Flyers are again the underdog. Fitting, right? Moreover, the Flyers are playing with house money. Although they were picked by some to win the Eastern Conference before the season, the Flyers only made the playoffs by a shootout, and have endured injury after injury. Chicago should be playing for the Cup – they stood out in the regular season (finishing second in the West), and trounced on the #1-seeded Sharks in the Western Conference Finals. The Flyers are playing with house money; they are playing with nothing to lose. They ARE a team of destiny. ADVANTAGE: Flyers

My pick: I haven't gone against the Flyers yet in the playoffs…why start now? Flyers in 7

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