The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is not just a Clint Eastwood movie about an unlikely partnership, it is also a good way to breakdown the Chicago Blackhawks 6-5 win over the Philadelphia Flyers in game one of the Stanley Cup Final.
Since the NHL first went to best-of-seven in the Cup Final in 1939, teams winning both games one and two have won the Cup 41 of 45 times (91.1 percent). But not is all lost for the resilient Flyers as they can look to the Penguins last year, who were one of those four teams to come back from a 2-0 series deficit in the Stanley Cup Final.
With that in mind, in this week’s Pucking Awesome Hat Trick I will be looking at the Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo of each team as we move forward in this Stanley Cup Final.
They did not get a point from captain Jonathan Toews for the first time in 13 games, so the good in that was they got scoring from pretty much everyone else.
Troy Brouwer (with two goals), Dave Bolland (shorthanded), Patrick Sharp, Kris Versteeg, and Tomas Kopecky all chipped in with goals.
The Blackhawks have been celebrated all season for their depth at forward and have gotten goals from 14 different players in this postseason and six players have five or more goals.
If this continues in this series then it could be another quick series for the deep Blackhawks
The Blackhawks also dominated the face-off circle winning 63 percent of draws.
So they were not as perfect as Roy Halladay was on Saturday, but they do have some positives to build on heading into the pivotal game two.
The biggest positive would be scoring five goals against Anti Niemi.
The line of Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell, and Ville Leino combined for nine points and all seemed to find a high chink in Niemi’s armor.
The Flyers heard all about the Blackhawks scoring depth in the four days leading to the Cup Final, but they also have had 14 different scorers this postseason and have nine players who have four or more goals, and in game one showed they can score with the big boys.
The highly penalized Flyers also went without a penalty in a game for the first time since 2000.
As the Flyers had no penalties, the Blackhawks had four penalties.
The strong PK continued as the Hawks only gave up one power play goal, but the bad was the type of penalties that they took.
Chicago saw many borderline dangerous hits from their energy fourth liners, and if this trend continues, Coach Quenneville will be forced to play only his top three lines as the series goes on. This could put more strain on his top line players.
Chris Pronger played 32:21, 22:44 minutes played for Mike Richards, and 21:25 minutes played for the recently activated Jeff Carter.
These numbers should be troubling for the Philadelphia Flyers, for the same obvious reason why not playing the energy fourth line hurts the Hawks.
Even worse numbers for the Flyers' top line of Richards, Carter, and Simon Gagne: they were a combined -7, and none of those goals came against the Blackhawks' top line of Toews, Kane, and Byfuglien (who were a combined -9).
The Flyers feed off the emotions and energy of their top players and for them to upset the Blackhawks they will need their leaders to step up their play.
Ugly is how to describe the type of win it was for the Blackhawks, but also the kind of play they will need to play in front of their own net to win game two.
The Flyers had most of their scoring chances in front of Niemi as the Blackhawks played a soft game in front of him.
The Blackhawks had 37 credited hits in the game, but 10 of them came from Byfuglien, with most coming in front of the Flyers net with Pronger, and only seven came from the Blackhawks backline.
In game two, the Flyers will continue to crash the nets and the Blackhawks defense, especially the top duo of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook (only five hits and three shots blocked combined), will need to step up their physicality.
For the Flyers to win game two, they will need goalie Michael Leighton to forget his ugly game one performance.
The postseason leader in GAA and save percentage coming into the game showed signs of nervousness as he let five goals in only 20 shots and was pulled in the second period.
Peter Laviolette announced that he will be sticking with Leighton for game two and the 29-year-old will have the respond for the Flyers to have a chance in this series.
Some good news for Flyers fans is during the regular season; Leighton was 3-0-1 in games after being pulled as a Flyer.
Historically, since 2000, the goalies who allowed at least five goals in a Cup Final loss all bounced back to win the next game, except for current injured Flyer Ray Emery, who allowed five goals in the 2007 Cup clincher.
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