After two games of this year’s Stanley Cup Finals, everyone had already thought this series was over. Those people were sadly mistaken. After the Chicago Blackhawks won the first two games in the series many people were already counting Philadelphia out. A mistake I’m sure they will never make again.
Game Threehree was a big game; Chicago could have taken a strangle hold on the series with a 3-0 lead. Philadelphia needed to prevent that and keep their Stanley Cup dreams alive.
It was a battle of the best home team in the playoffs (the Philadelphia Flyers) against the best road team in the playoffs (the Chicago Blackhawks). Something had to give in this all important Game Three. Something did indeed give.
The game went to overtime, where it would be settled. Philadelphia scored the game winning goal and took the game 4-3 (OT). This made the next game so much easier to play.
Game Four, pressure still on. If Philadelphia could win this game the series would be all tied up and the momentum would be on their side. Winning two straight would definitely have momentum flowing on your side. What happened when the puck dropped for the game? The Flyers brought their “A” game and won it 5-3, nodding up the series at 2 a piece.
It looks like the home arena so far has been the best asset to these teams. A deciding factor to this series will definitely be winning on the road. All four wins have come as home victories for these teams. Philadelphia will get the first crack at winning on the road in Game Five of this series. If they can pull out a win in Chicago’s arena, there’s a good shot they can leave Game Six the Stanley Cup Champions.
Chicago faces a different, yet very similar scenario. If the Blackhawks can win Game Five at home they’ll head off to Philadelphia hoping they can be the first team to win on the road in this series, thus closing it out. It’ll capture Chicago a long overdue Stanley Cup and help bring in more fans, even though they’ve done a good job of making fans interested in hockey once more.
But I don’t think six games will be enough to get a winner here. I think this series will definitely go to seven games. However, that heavily favors the Blackhawks. As we all know, if we are going to get a Game Seven, then we are heading back to Chicago. Then again, that means all eyes will be on the Blackhawks to win. It’s quite interesting actually.
On one hand, the Blackhawks have it easier because the final meetings will be on their grounds, in their house. On the other hand, if they are in their territory they have to know that the fans will want a win from their team. It basically comes down to, who can rise in big game situations and who can not.
One player that can definitely be counted on to bring it is Dustin Byfuglien. He has risen to the occasion time and time again and has shown that he plays best while under pressure. Let’s say, for example, that Game Seven goes to overtime. I would be looking for Dustin Byfuglien to step up as he always does and win the Chicago Blackhawks that cup.
Antti Niemi is going to be another big part of Chicago’s success. Throughout the playoffs he has proved many doubters wrong (including myself) and has shown that he can play between the pipes for the Blackhawks. He has done a great job of backstopping the Blackhawks to numerous wins in the playoffs and if he can continue to be successful then he just might be lifting Lord Stanley’s Cup in a few days time.
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, two guys that have been producing all playoff long for the Chicago Blackhawks, have slowed down in the final. For Chicago to be seriously feared for the remaining few games, Toews and Kane have to produce like they have all playoff long, before the Stanley Cup Final came.
Let’s take the focus away from Chicago for now and bring it onto our underdog team, the Philadelphia Flyers.
It seems that the Philadelphia Flyers work best under the underdog role.
In the first round nobody really expected the Flyers to win, seeing that they barely got into the playoffs. What happens? Philadelphia is the first team to move on to the second round.
Next round, they go down 3-0 in the series to Boston, no one expects them to win. What happens? They come back to take the series 4-3.
Conference final, most people thought Montreal would move on seeing that they just took out the best team in the NHL and then the defending cup champions. What happens? Philadelphia boots them out in five and move on to the cup final.
They’ve even shown it in the final. Not only were the Blackhawks heavily favoured going into the series, but as mentioned before, also took a two game lead. What happens? In two games they get things back on even ground.
This underdog mentality is helping Philadelphia win games, and when you win the most games, you will win the series. Maybe it’s the fact that there is no pressure on the underdog’s that helps Philadelphia win all those series. Whatever it may be, it helps them win games and if the trend continues the Flyers could go home with the cup this year.
Peter Laviolette has been a great coach for the Philadelphia Flyers. He came up with the brilliant line that helped them win the Boston Bruins series, “The pressure isn’t on us to win, it’s on them to close out the series.” He can adjust to any situation thrown at him and that ability has helped him guide the team smoothly throughout the playoffs. Laviolette can easily be the reason the Flyers will win the series.
The Philadelphia defense will play a big role in the Flyers’ success too. Chris Pronger is playing a big role in making sure that the defensive presence is there. He’s a great shutdown defenseman and despite playing over 30 minutes a game he still does a great job of keeping the Blackhawks offense quiet.
However, for any team to win they have to have one thing, confidence. Having confidence in your abilities and your play goes a long way. It helps you score and while defense wins championships, goals win games and winning games helps you win series.
The puck for Game Five drops tonight. Game Five goes a long way to determining which team wins the series. Whichever team can win tonight will have a huge edge in the series from this point.
Sooner or later we are going to crown our Stanley Cup Champions. The things I just listed will play a big role in crowning the champion. Whichever team has their factors working for them will likely be hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup. With a few more games left to be played it won’t take long for us to figure out which team is our champion. So sit back, relax and watch greatness be personified.
This article was originally posted on The Sports Dossier under the name " Stanley Cup Finals 09/10: The Things That Will Go Into Determining Our Champion ." Check out more great pieces from our talented staff of writers.
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