Well 10-4 this year in my post season predictions which for me is a grade of “B+” I’d like to blame the Montreal Canadiens for my record as I had gotten all 3 series involving the Habs wrong. I feel some vindication though with my 7-0 record in the West, and as the blogger of a Western team I suppose I should expect to have a better read on these teams.
I am declaring myself the prediction champ of PSB this year at 10-4 though the expert predictions blog somewhat disappeared, you can follow all of my picks at www.stillnoname.com (cheap plug for some buddies) where I also contribute to the prediction pool there. Now that the patting myself on the back is over I’m going to tell you who will win and why!
Lets start in goal for both teams and it’s not exactly what you would call an elite goaltender match up with Antti Niemi for the Blackhawks and Michael Leighton/Brian Boucher for the Flyers. (Yes I suspect we will see both Flyers goalies in the final) Niemi has been solid throughout the playoffs for the Hawks but never spectacular in my opinion. Leighton just came off what had to be the easiest three shut out performance in a series in the history of the sport. Needless to say I am not convinced at all in the Flyers goaltending as much as I am impressed by the Flyers defense corps.
Moving on to the defense for both teams and this is a great match up! The Hawks top pair of Keith and Seabrook will have the task of shutting down the Richards line, while the pair of Chris Pronger and whatever stiff they throw out with him for the next shift will be against the Toews line. It may be a bit of a cold hearted way to look at it, but from what I have seen it is true. Pronger is the Conn Smythe nominee for the Flyers with no hesitation in my mind, and he will see a lot of the Hawks nominee Jonathan Toews. The Hawks can easily go five deep on the blue line while I think Pronger will have to play 45 minutes a night to give the Flyers a chance.
Moving up front The Flyers Mike Richards has been great all post season for Philly. Philadelphia has also gotten some great play out of Claude Giroux, and Simon Gagne do pose enough of a threat that the Hawks D will have their hands full. Now you look at the Hawks and these guys are three lines deep and also have a solid fourth line. I am curious how the Flyers will try and handle Dustin Byfuglien in front of their net. The Sharks theory of leave him alone certainly did not work. I suspect that by the time this series is over Byfuglien and Pronger will have a good hate for each other going. I just can’t see how the Flyers D will be able to hold up to the depth of skill Chicago brings to the table.
Now lets take a look at the intangibles, starting with home ice advantage. Both teams have tough barns to play in and both should be rocking the entire playoffs. Listen to how noisy it gets in Philly when they play the Kate Smith rendition of God Bless America. The lid may come off that building! The Hawks home crowd is nothing to sneeze at either. When that horn goes and they play the stupid (yes I said it) Chelsea Dagger song after a goal and I think there will be a few. The madhouse on Madison will be exactly that. But the Flyers could have destiny on their side being the first team to come back from 3-0 down in 35 years to win a series. However Mike Richards touched the Prince of Wales trophy so that gets wiped out with that curse. That being said there is some magic in Philadelphia right now.
To wrap it up I just can’t see a way the Flyers can win this series short of a few Hawks getting injured, or I am incorrect about the Flyers goaltending and they pull off another miracle. I also look at who the Flyers beat in New Jersey, Boston, and Montreal and none of those teams are even close to what Chicago will bring to the table. If Chicago can avoid over confidence then they should roll in this series. The funny thing is I would not be shocked to see Philadelphia win game 1 for that reason and for that reason alone I can’t pick a sweep. Your Stanley Cup Champions for 2009-2010 are….
The Chicago Blackhawks in 5 games
I will take Jonathan Toews as the Conn Smythe winner.
Book It! And have a good one!
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About the Author
Written by Shane Hoopfer
Die hard Flames fan since 1980, and a closet baseball junkie. Also a big Dolphins, and Stampeders fan!