Philadelphia's Niemi-Sis

Evan WinkofskyContributor IJune 2, 2010

CHICAGO - MAY 31:  Antti Niemi #31 of the Chicago Blackhawks makes a save in the third period while taking on the Philadelphia Flyers in Game Two of the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the United Center on May 31, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks have shown that they don't need a dominating performance from the Finnish net-minder to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers.

Take a 6-5 game one victory for the hawks where Antti Niemi saved 27 of 32 shots. It was a lackluster defensive effort that... Well lets just say it did not make Niemi look good.

But as he has all playoffs long, Niemi responded after a poor showing and bounced back with an incredible effort. 32 saves later and the games number one star Antti Niemi and the hawks had a 2-1 victory and a 2-0 series lead.

The Finnish Fortress survived a barrage of shots from the Flyer's attack in the third period of game two.  He stopped 14 of 15 shots.  The only goal for the Flyers deflected off a pair of sticks and changed directions twice on Niemi.

The question surrounding the Hawks all season long has been their goaltending.  Is it good enough to win the Blackhawks their first Stanley Cup since 1961? The answer is simple... Yes.

This post season has been about silencing critics for Antti Niemi.  Each playoff series has brought out the best in him.  The Hawks have sent home Nashville, Vancouver, San Jose and now just one opponent stands in their way.  The Philadelphia Flyers.

Niemi put the team on his back in game two and faces a difficult task in games three and four.  Adversity has not been able to crack his tough and cool exterior. But the pressure looms as the Blackhawks are just two games away from hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup.

They Flyers are in a desperate situation down 0-2 but let's not forget what this team has gone through to get here. A shootout victory the last game of the season to clinch a playoff spot and an 0-3 hole to the Boston Bruins.

They have fought through injuries and setbacks all season long.  They are poised to make a run at this series but Niemi will once again be called upon to stand on his head in this series and my bet is that he will prove to be the difference.

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