The Chicago Blackhawks will host the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday, May 29 at 8 pm EST for the start of the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals. It may not entice the world as much as the Pittsburgh/Detroit series the last two years, but this series is not one to be missed.
Both teams are coming into the Stanley Cup Final red hot. The Hawks disposed of the Sharks in a four-game sweep, while the Flyers triumphed just as easily, winning the series 4-1.
The only previous matchup between these two this season was a 3-2 overtime win by the Flyers. The Flyers pose a much bigger threat to the Hawks than the Sharks or the Canucks, but the one thing Philadelphia lacks is depth.
No team matches the depth that the Hawks have, but that doesn't mean we won't see great one-on-one matchups.
Flyer forward Mike Richards, leads the the team with 21 postseason points. He'll defiantly be guarded by Hawk defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.
The playoffs have shown us that the top two Hawk defensemen have done a great job stopping the opponents' best players. Besides Patrick Marleau, San Joses' other top players didn't produce. The defense of the Hawks were also able to stop the Sedin twins in the Vancouver series.
Philly's defenseman Chris Pronger, will no doubt be Chicago's main enemy. Pronger will see a lot of Dustin Bygulien and maybe a little Toews. Pronger has the game to bully Bug Buff more than any other player in this postseason. It'll be interesting to see if this matchup will be the decider in the series. It has the potential to be one.
The final big matchup will be, of course, between the two goaltenders. Philadelphia's Michael Leighton (who was actually drafted by the Hawks and played 42 games for them between 2002-2004) has been subbed in for the injured Brian Boucher. Leighton has played well for having had to play on short notice, especially given that he has never started more than 34 games. He will be pitted against Hawk goaltender Antti Niemi.
Niemi didn't play in the only game theses two teams played, so the Flyers have never seen the Finn in person before. Niemi has silenced his critics this postseason. He hasn't made a huge mistake yet, but this is the real deal.
Both goalies are inexperienced in big games, making the games more interesting. Which goalie will bring his team to glory?
My pick: Hawks in 7, but it'll be very tough. I love their depth, and I truly believe they are the best team in the NHL, hands down.