The path of the two teams which are currently present at the NHL Finals could not have been more different, as one of them has been on a roll since October, while the other one has had to fight their way to series for the Stanley Cup as they changed coaches, survived a shootout in the last day of the regular season and overcame a 3-0 deficit in round two of the playoffs against the Bruins.
But now that they have finally made it to the most important series in professional hockey, they don’t seem very different than their counterparts from Philadelphia. Now, one thing is clear: the Blackhawks have home advantage, as the first 3 matches of the series are going to be played on Chicago, and they will try to win their first Stanley Cup since 1961 in order to stop a 49-year drought. On the other hand, the Flyers are also a team that hasn’t won much lately, since their last NHL trophy was obtained in 1975, which makes this series even more interesting.
In terms of offensive, both teams will be playing a 3-men line, for Chicago it will be Captain Jonathan Toews (26 points in just sixteen games), leaving Patrick Kane in the center and completing with Dustin Byfuglien, which makes of this team quite scary for their rivals.
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While for the Flyers, 25 year old captain Mike Richards will be commanding the offensive, along with Jeff Carter (who is back after recovering from a broken foot) and Danny Briere, who has accumulated eighteen points in just seventeen matches.
On offense, I will have to say that Chicago has a slight advantage.
Now, when it comes to defense, there will be a very interesting matchup between Chicago’s Byfuglien (who is a versatile man that can play on both ends), and Philly’s Chris Pronger, who will be guiding Duncan Keith (who is currently seven teeth shorter than when the playoffs began) and Brent Seabrook. Keith is a clear candidate to obtain the Norris Trophy this year due to his outstanding performance at the playoffs.
Michael Leighton and Antti Niemi are the goaltenders for the Flyers and the Blackhawks respectively, and even though both were backups until midseason, they will certainly try to avoid all the goals they can in order to help their teams survive.
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