Chicago vs Philadelphia: 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Finals Prediction

Eric WarrenCorrespondent IIMay 25, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - MARCH 13: Dan Carcillo #13 of the Philadelphia Flyers gets the stick up in the face of Andrew Ladd #16 of the Chicago Blackhawks at the Wachovia Center on March 13, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Flyers have ended the improbable run of the Montreal Canadiens to advance to the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks.

In a game five that I thought certain was going to bring about a game six in Montreal, the Habs simply looked out of gas. They had their fir share of chances on journeyman net minder Michael Leighton but in the end could only solve him twice.

The Canadiens did get off to a quick start, which is exactly what they had hoped for. They got on the board just 59 seconds into the game after Roman Hamilik picked off a pass by Chris Pronger which resulted in Scott Gomez feeding Gionta who quickly snapped through the pads of Leighton.

Montreal would give up the lead a little over three minutes later when a miscommunication between Montreal goalie Halak and defenseman Roman Hamirlik would result in Hamirlik running Halak over allowing Mike Richards a short handed “gimme” to tie the game.

Although the Canadiens did have their chances and did add another in the third, they never stood a chance after that.

The Canadiens, who seemed to have run out of gas, were too slow to the puck in their own zone and allowed Philly too much control coming in. On the opposite side it seemed as though every time Montreal tried to make a pass into the Flyers zone, they passed it right into the skates of a Philadelphia player who was quick to clear it.

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At the end of the day, the Flyers advanced to face the Blackhawks in the final cruising past the Canadiens in five games.

The 2010 Stanley Cup Finals will start this coming Saturday and the second seeded Blackhawks will play host to the seventh seeded Flyers.

This is going to be a difficult series to predict.

On one hand you have the Eastern Conference Champions, the Philadelphia Flyers, who are at times as talented as they are physically punishing.

On the other hand you have the Western Conference Champions, the Chicago Blackhawks, who have so many players who have the ability to deke you out of your socks.

Both teams have hot goaltenders. Notice I didn't say “great” goaltenders.

Michael Leighton is an NHL veteran, so to speak, but while he has played well in these playoffs, he has so far been pretty much a journeyman of sorts with stops in Nashville and Carolina as well as this being his third time around with the Flyers.

That's not to say I expect the wheels to fall off of his game, but I'm not sure if I'd bet the farm on him just yet.

Antti Niemi, the 26-year-old Finland native is playing like a man possessed. You know, like Halak played in the first two rounds.

Niemi has been a pleasant surprise for both his fans and teammates alike and is first in these 2010 NHL Playoffs in wins with nine.

Oddly enough this is the same goaltender who played 39 games in the regular season for the Hawks and though boasts an impressive regular season record only placed in the top ten in two categories.

The playoffs are a different story though. Through 16 games he is first in wins and second in goals against, along with second in five other categories including shut outs with two.

In almost every other category, these two teams are almost deadlocked.

The Hawks are slightly better on the power play but the Flyers are slightly better on the penalty kill.

Chicago has slightly better goaltending in my opinion but Philly has a marginally higher shooting percentage.

Philly scores more goals at home than Chicago but the Blackhawks score more on the road.

It's statistics like that that should have Flyer fans a little concerned. At home, the Flyers are a plus 14, on the road a plus four.

Chicago on the other hand is only a plus two at home but an incredible plus 17 on the road.

This will likely be an epic series and one of the most watched in recent memory. I fully expect it to go the full seven games and barring a major injury to either Kane or Toews, the Chicago Blackhawks will emerge as the Stanley Cup Champions for the first time since 1961.