Today kicks off the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Conference Finals.
The San Jose Sharks host the Chicago Blackhawks for game one, while the Montreal Canadians look to continue their Cinderella story, as they are in Philadelphia to play the Flyers, who are having their own fairytale.
However, one fairytale will have a happy ending while the other will be left with nothing but the memories of making it to the final four.
The Montreal Canadians defeated arguably the two best teams in the NHL.
They surpassed the Presidents trophy winning Washington Capitals in a thrilling seven games series to conclude round one.
The Habs then continued their magical play by ousting the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins, in another series that went the distance.
The Philadelphia Flyers upset the second seeded New Jersey Devils in a quick and demanding five games to move on to the Conference Semi-Finals.
In the second round, Philadelphia made franchise history when they made a remarkable comeback after being down three games to zero against the Boston Bruins. The Flyers eventually won the series four to three and became just the third team in NHL history to do that and the fourth team in all professional sports.
So now we have got the two worst teams to make the NHL 2010 Playoffs (in terms of points) meeting up in the East Finals, both sat at 88 points in the regular season.
December 7th, 2009, @ Montreal: Montreal Wins 3-1
February 12th, 2010, @ Philadelphia: Philadelphia Wins 3-2
February 13th, 2010, @ Montreal: Philadelphia Wins 6-2
April 2nd, 2010, @ Philadelphia: Montreal Wins 1-0
Season Series Tied 2-2 (Philadelphia Out-Scores Montreal 10-8)
A Little Bit Of Everything
The Philadelphia Flyers have the advantage when it comes to offense and forwards.
They have a great deal of depth with Mike Richards, Simon Gagne, James Van Reimsdyk, Claude Giroux, Daniel Briere, Daniel Carcillo. The Flyers have all the aspects to be a cup contending team.
Their defense is very solid as-well with Matt Carle, Kimo Timonen and Chris Pronger all leading the way.
Their offense will be extremely important since the man between the pipes on the other side of the rink will be Jaroslav Halak.
No Place Like Home
The Philadelphia Flyers have the luxury of having home ice advantage.
They are coming off an incredible series and momentum changing game seven comeback and the Wachovia Center will without a doubt be pumped up and ready to go.
If Philadelphia can find a way to take advantage of that and get off to a quick start in game one, they have a very good chance at winning if they can contain Montreal's main offensive threats in Mike Cammaleri, Scott Gomez, and Brian Gionta.
The Montreal Canadiens have the advantage in goal.
Jaroslav Halak has been the main reason why Montreal is still playing hockey instead of playing golf right now.
Yes, Philadelphia has a lot of depth up-front, but so did the Washington Capitals and if Halak is on his game which he will most likely be, he can steal more then a couple of games for the Habs.
Enter Hal Gill, Jaroslav Spacek, Roman Hamrlik, P.K. Subban, Josh Gorges, and Marc-Andre Bergereon. That is the rather surprising defensive core that the Canadiens have been riding on right now.
In round two, we saw these guys shut-down two of the best players in the game today, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
They did the same with Alexander Semin in round one and they did it with Alexander Ovechkin for the most of round one. If they can contain those guys, they shouldn't have a problem shutting down the likes of Simon Gagne, Mike Richards, Claude Giroux, etc, etc.
The only concern is, is Philadelphia too much for Montreal to shut-down throughout the whole series?
Philadelphia wins in Seven