I have to admit, I hadn’t watched a lot of hockey prior to watching the first five games of the Stanley Cup Finals involving the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers. Being a big Chicago Bears fan and writer, I thought that it would be nice to follow one of the other teams in Chicago and cheer them on to a championship but I got a lot more than I expected tuning into game one of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Much like football, hockey is a hard hitting sport that is played very fast with few opportunities to score. Just watching the second and the fifth game of the series, you got a chance to see just how much contact plays a role in the game of hockey. Taking a player out of a particular play can provide big dividends for any team trying to score. A good example of this is what the Blackhawks Dustin Byfuglien did to Chris Pronger in game five. Pronger clearly had his worst game in this series because of what Byfuglien and the other Blackhawks players did and this helped lead them to their victory in game five.
The series shifts to Philadelphia for Game Six and the Blackhawks need to do exactly what they did in Game Five if they want to win this game and win the Stanley Cup (in six games). Some lineup changes (made by their coach Joel Quenneville) in Game Five helped the Blackhawks keep control of the game and score a lot of goals while allowing the Flyers very few opportunities to make plays. Hopefully they can do the same thing in their next game and if they can, they should be able to win the game.
Home ice advantage has seemed to help both teams in this series as the Hawks have won all three games at the United Center while the Flyers have beaten the Blackhawks in their two games at the Wachovia Center. Travelling to Philadelphia for Game Six certainly doesn’t make things look good for the Blackhawks but if they can make a carbon copy of their Game Five performance and use it in Game Six then they will win the game.
The Blackhawks need to have their defensemen and goalie Antti Niemi ready for Game Six. Niemi has been very good so far in this serious but some of the goals he has allowed (including one in Game Five where he seemingly forgot where the puck was as it went in behind him) have been almost easily preventable. If Niemi has a good game, the Blackhawks will almost assuredly win.
So, a new fan of the game of hockey and a bigger fan of the Chicago Blackhawks, I am looking forward to watching the upcoming game and hoping that the Blackhawks pull things off to win the Stanley Cup. I would love to see a Chicago team come home with a Championship. It would certainly make this fan of Chicago sports very happy.