Here Come The 'Hawks: Previewing The 2010 Stanley Cup Finals
By Benjy Lipsman in News on May 28, 2010 4:00PM
"One Goal" has been the marketing campaign for the Blackhawks all season long. And just four more victories are needed to turn it into reality. For the first time since 1992, the Blackhawks find themselves playing in the Stanley Cup finals. But in order to bring Lord Stanley's cup back to Chicago for the first time since 1961, the Hawks will have to go through the Philadephia Flyers, who haven't won a Cup since the "Broad Street Bullies" won back-to-back titles in '74 and '75. It's no surprise that the Blackhawks made the finals, as they just barely missed out on the top seed in the Western Conference. But while the Flyers slipped into the postseason (on a last day shootout) as the Eastern Conference's seventh seed, they've surprised in round after round to make it this far.
Needless to say, the Blackhawks enter the Stanley Cup finals as prohibitive favorites. They come out of the stronger Western Conference as champs. They've been more consistent all year and they field a deeper roster. They also have played well against teams with styles similar to Philly. While this Flyers team aren't the bullies of the past, they are an aggressive team and that could play in the Blackhawks favor, as winger Troy Brouwer explained at media day: ''We keep our head. We keep our cool, and we're able to draw penalties and try to take advantage of them on the power play.'' Look for Jonathan Toews to continue his great play. He leads all postseason players with 26 points. Meanwhile, Dustin Byfuglien has been a monster of late, scoring three game-winners in the San Jose series. Antti Niemi, who barely made the team as the backup goalie coming out of training camp has been almost unstoppable in goal, including a pair of 40+ save games against San Jose. Philly counters with center Mike Richards and defenseman Chris Pronger and Chicago cast-off Michael Leighton in goal.
So who will win?
ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun lays out his five keys to the series, including some of the key match-ups and storylines. He picks the Blackhawks to win in six games. Meanwhile ESPN's John Buccigross and Barry Melrose correctly predicted way back in September that Chicago and Philly would face off for the Cup. Of course, they likely didn't pick the Flyers to finish seventh in the East if they had them winning it all. Sticking with his initial call, Buccigross has come up with reasons why Philly can win this series. "Philly cheese steaks could wreak havoc on the Q-Stache..." and Jim Belushi sightings. Really? That's what you've got? Four of six on ESPN's panel of hockey experts pick the Blackhawks to win the Cup. And as four our sister site, Phillyist, well, we can forgive them for being delusional. A slumping Phillies team and losing Donovan "What are the overtime rules?" McNabb can make you look for hope wherever you can find it and they pick the Flyers in seven. Can the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup for Chicago and win back not only generations of fans spurned by the old Bill Wirtz regime, but also indoctrinate a whole new generation of fans? We think so: we're taking the 'Hawks in six. Sorry, Phillyist.
The puck drops for game one is tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at the United Center. For those without tickets, it's on NBC and WGN radio. We've given the complete Cup schedule a couple times, but if you need a refresher, here it is. And just to get you pumped up a little more, check out a pair of Blackhawks videos that has us revved up for tomorrow night.