Alright. So it's the day of Game One of the Stanley Cup finals. I figured waiting this long would be a great idea: That way we'd have all the information possible heading in to this series so I could make an educated guess and finally beat one of those stupid fictional prognosticators.
Hawkeye: Wait...you mean you weren't being lazy?
BT: No. I wasn't. But thanks for that. Besides, what did you two end up doing with that four days off the just seemed to drag on?
Hawkeye: We drank.
BJ: And chased nurses.
Hawkeye: Well...I chased nurses.
BJ: And we both drank.
BT: Gotcha. Either way, there's another problem with that stupid break.
Hawkeye: What do you mean? I had a great time!
BT: Yeah, well I had to put up with all of Frank's crack-pot theories.
Hawkeye: In all fairness to him, he is crazy. Five years worth of it.
BT: That doesn't make this better.
Hawkeye: Nor should it.
People say you need to "throw the stats out the window." For this series, that may be true.
Of course, you have the argument of the Blackhawks being the sentimental favorites, seeing as this team hasn't been able to come home with a championship in 49 years. Then you have the Flyers who have overcome odds, injuries, and a 3-0 disadvantage in the second round to get here.
If you're superstitious, Jonathan Toews completely ignored Clarence Campbell Trophy, while Mike Richards and the Flyers skated away with the Prince of Whales trophy. Why? I don't know. You could have at least eaten cereal out of the Campbell Bowl. But only if the top comes off.
And if no one ever touches the trophy, we'll never know.
Radar: Could we eat Lucky Charms out of it? I like the marshmallows.
BT: Yes Radar...we could. You'd have to win one first.
Radar: Well that's easy. Short guys win them all the time....it's the new NHL!
BT: That actually wasn't that bad.
Getting past the trophy superstition, the matchup that everyone questions is in net. You've got people wondering (like I did last series —where you'll notice another Radar/height joke if you read. We're running out of material apparently). when the workload will catch up with Antti Niemi. Meanwhile, just how long can journeyman Michael Leighton be effective?
In my opinion, Leighton's got the advantage of being rested and only having played half of the playoffs so far. Then again, young guys usually win out over journeyman goalies in the finals.
Cam Ward vs. Dwayne Roloson? Young guy came out on top because the well-travelled guy played just two periods. Jon Casey didn't have all that much luck against Tom Barrasso either in the early '90s. If you want to call Chris Osgood a journeyman, then congratulations. You proved my point wrong after reading that entire paragraph.
The reason why this could come down to the goalies though, is not necessarily pressure. It's the two offenses that these two teams bring to the finals.
Everyone knows what the 'Hawks have in Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, and Marian Hossa (Yes he doesn't perform in the playoffs, but he could still score like...a goal or something next series).
Added to that is the sudden offensive explosion from Dustin Byfuglien, who has suddenly turned into next year's Fantasy Breakout Candidate Who Won't Pan Out Offensively Thanks to the Playoffs . Either way though, Big Buff scores big goals.
The Flyers aren't that outmatched though. While the 'Hawks have the playoffs leading scorer in Toews (26 points), Michael Richards is proving those early-career predictions of being a Steve Yzerman/Joe Sakic-type leader true. He's led the Flyers in scoring (21 points) and carried them through an up-and-down season, along with an injury-riddled playoffs.
Then there's Daniel Briere (who seems to play his best hockey after April 15, Jeff Carter (who got a little more conditioning time with the four-day break), and Claude Giroux and Ville Leino—two young guys going through magical playoff runs.
Each goalie has a quality defense surrounding him as well, but Philadelphia's experience and size, and their ability to capitalize using it will determine the length and direction of this series.
Love him or hate him, Chris Pronger is a difference maker when it matters. Time to see how Byfuglien does against someone his own size.
Hawkeye: So I guess we have to make a pick now?
BJ: If we get it right, THEN can we go home?
BT: Sure. I guess. I'll see what I can do.
Hawkeye: Alright...if that's the case then we're going with—
P.A. System: ATTENTION! ATTENTION! OUR ALL-TIME LOW PRICES HAVE BROUGHT A LINEUP TO OUR DOORS! MAKE YOUR WAYS TO THE HELIPAD FOR CASUALTIES!
BT says Philadelphia in six
M*A*S*H predicts Chicago in seven