The Blackhawks appear to be a team on a mission in this postseason, and nothing but the Stanley Cup will satisfy them.
Thus far they have passed the Nasvhille Predators, Vancouver Canucks, and the San Jose Sharks to get to the Stanley Cup Final.
This young team has shown how much they have truly grown together since the postseason last year when they were not quite ready.
Their depth is tremendous. The Hawks are a very physical yet disciplined team. Their special teams (power play and penalty kill) are among the best in the league.
Also, some of their young players like captain Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Antti Niemi are proving to everyone that they are elite players as billed.
Here is a look at six reasons why the Chicago Blackhawks will win the Stanley Cup this year.
Of course they have Kane and Toews up front as their elite scorers, but they also have many hard hitting, solid defensive players who can also put the puck in the net.
With the likes of Dave Bolland (whom has been a force thus far in this years playoffs after coming back from back surgery), Andrew Ladd, John Madden, Kris Versteeg, Troy Brouwer, Thomas Kopecky, and more on the third and fourth lines provide this team with incredible depth.
This gives the Blackhawks the advantage of being able to play any line without worrying about them not matching up against the opposition.
On defense there are six very solid and defensively reliable NHL caliber defenders. Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook lead the way, with Brian Campbell, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Kim Johnsson (currently injured) and Brent Sopel providing support. Alex Henry also draws into the lineup but does not usually play over 10 minutes of ice time.
On the flip side the Flyers have three lines who can be a consistent threat to score with Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Daniel Briere as the centers. However the fourth line of Darrol Powe, Blair Betts and Ian Laperriere does not have the same offensive threat as the Blackhawks.
On defense the Flyers top four of Chris Pronger, Matt Carle, Kimmo Timonen, and Braydon Coburn are as good as any in the league. However the third pairing of Lukas Krajicek and Ryan Parent rarely see more than 10 minutes of ice time.
This is where Chicago has a clear advantage and the longer the series goes the more the Flyers defense will wear down. Getting Kim Johansson back into the lineup would be a big boost as well for the Blackhawks.
In one game against the Flyers this season, the Blackhawks lost 3-2.
However, they outshot the Flyers 41-34, and won 24 faceoffs while losing 23.
Chicago went 11-5-2 in the regular season against the Eastern Conference and 4-2-0 against the Atlantic Division where the Flyers reside.
Only two Western Conference teams had losing records against the East, while nine East teams had losing records against the West.
A telling stat in the difference in the conferences is that it took 95 points to make the playoffs in the West, while in the East it only took 88.
There were also four teams in the East with less than 100 points, while the West had only one team. There is also more depth in the West.
For instance, the Dallas Stars finished in the No. 12 spot, but would have been tied for eighth in the East.
The Blackhawks also had a much harder road to get to the final in terms of quality opponents.
They played the Nashville Predators (100 points), Vancouver Canucks (103 points), and the San Jose Sharks (113 points).
The Flyers, on the other hand, played the New Jersey Devils (103 points), Boston Bruins (91 points), and the Montreal Canadiens (88 points).
The Flyers last two opponents would not even have made the playoffs if they played in the West.
The Blackhawks possess an edge in faceoffs as well.
Through three rounds they are winning 49.6 percent of faceoffs. While the Flyers are winning 48.4 percent of faceoffs.
The Blackhawks have Jonathan Toews (57.9 percent), Patrick Sharp (49.1 percent), Dave Bolland (38.5 percent),and John Madden (50.6 percnet).
The Flyers have Mike Richards (46 percent), Jeff Carter (49.3 percent), Danny Briere (49.5 percent), Claude Giroux (44.5 percent), and Blair Betts (56.6 percent).
Both team captains, Mike Richards (335 draws) and Jonathan Toews (311 draws), have taken the most faceoffs and will likely match up regularly.
In this match-up, on home ice Toews is 61 percent while Richards is 49.4 percent on the road. On the road Toews is 54.2 percent while Richards is 42 percent at home.
As you can see the Blackhawks have a clear advantage in the faceoff circle, and puck possession is key in the Stanley Cup final.
To this point in the NHL playoffs the Flyers have 450 hits, 288 blocked shots, 120 giveaways, and 127 takeaways.
The Blackhawks have 410 hits, 277 blocked shots, 139 giveaways, and 169 takeaways.
The Flyers have the advantage in terms of hits and blocked shots, but not by much.
While the Blackhawks have a better giveaway to takeaway ratio. Look for the Blackhawks to continue their solid play and they should be the first team to consistently get traffic in front of Michael Leighton.
There should be a tremendous battle between Chris Pronger and Dustion Byfuglien in this round.
Both are massive players with mean streaks a mile long that should meet in front of the Flyers' goal.
It will surely be fun to watch this battle throughout the series.
The Blackhawks are a more disciplined team than the Flyers.
Chicago has taken 155 minutes in penalties so far—that's 10.2 minutes per game.
The Flyers, meanwhile, have taken 193 minutes in penalties (11.9 per game).
That gives the Blackhawks one extra power play per game, and in the Stanley Cup Final that can be the difference between winning and losing.
Also the Flyers currently have the most penalized player left in the playoffs.
Surprise, surprise—it is Daniel Carcillo, with 30 minutes in penalties.
Do not expect him to see much ice time if any.
He appears to have fallen out of favor with Peter Laviolette, as he did not dress for the final two games of the Conference Finals.
"Captain Serious" is no doubt one of the best players in the NHL today.
He can truly do everything on the ice it takes for his team to win, if you need a big goal or a penalty killed—he is your man.
He is also a winner at every level. At such a young age I have no doubts that he is one of the best captains in the league today.
His history of winning shows in the following accomplishments: WCHA Championship with North Dakota (was named West Regional MVP), Gold Medal World Under 17 Hockey Challenge 2005 in Alberta (was also named the MVP), Gold Medal World Junior Championships 2006 in Vancouver, Gold Medal World Junior Championships 2007 in Sweden (Named to tournament All-Star Team), Gold Medal World Championships 2007 in Moscow, Silver Medal World Championships 2008 in Halifax/Quebec, Gold Medal Winter Olympics 2010 in Vancouver (also named the top forward in the tournament).
At 22 years of age, Toews has already accomplished so much.
He already has the determination of a Steve Yzerman when it comes to winning. Not only does he win, but often is named the MVP or best player.
Goals and points do not matter to this young man as much as winning does. Look for him to once again lead this team to another well-earned championship.