Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Game 5 was an outright downpour by the Chicago offense. Work ethic and desperation finally matched the talent level of the Hawks. The 1st period in particular featured 3 goals and an offensive display the Flyers weren't ready for. Leighton wasn't too sharp, but it was far from his fault.
Versteeg, Sharp, Kane, Byuf, and Keith have been catalysts throughout the series. I still think Toews can elevate his game even more but the fact that he leads the playoffs in points makes him a legit Conn Smythe candidate, along with his teammate and standout d-men Keith. Seabrook/Keith are an exciting pairing to watch because they can not only shutdown opposing top lines, but go on the offense when needed as well.
As good as Chicago looked in game 5, Philly is far from done. For one thing they finally have a coach in Laviolette who has them playing smart and physical hockey, not just physical. It woulda took thousands of dollars to pay Stevens to bench Carcillo in favor of Lappy or Powe. Remember a couple years ago how knucklehead Downie cost the Flyers 2 games against the Pens in the Conference finals? Downie has since become a much better player. The Flyers also have one of the best d-men of our era, Chris Pronger. His media antics help relax the team and sway the focus away from guys like Richards/Carter to himself. He's won a Cup in Anaheim and lost in the Finals as a member of the Oilers in '06.
Don't forget the Flyers fans either. They are loud, abusive, energetic, and will help revive the Flyers back into their good 'ole Flyer form. The team never seems to give up, game 5 was evidence of that. And they also have 2 great scoring lines with a very potent 3rd line to go along with it. Leino, Giroux, and Briere have been instrumental throughout the Flyers Cup run. Leino was on the losing side last year for the Red Wings while being nowhere near the player he has become now. He is playing like Sergei Federov with a hint of Peter Forsberg. He's been that good.
Will Michael Leighton get the go for Philly? Obvi. The waiver pickup leads the playoffs in Gaa and save %, so yes he'll be there. Niemi will need to be more sharp in Game 6, as will the Chicago defense. Both Philly and Chicago are very weak with their bottom 2 defense pairings. Veteran Boynton was put in the lineup in favor of Hendry the last couple games, and he has looked slower than Gill and Sutton combined. And on the Philly side, I think half of Flyer nation cringes everytime Kraijcek gets the puck, not to mention when Bartulis gets it. He's only played 3-6min a game lol.
I'm rooting for the Hawks and I know they have what it takes. On paper they are far and away the best team in this series. They have 4 dangerous scoring lines and some solid (surprise) d-men in Sopel and Hjalmarsson. Will Philly rise to the occassion and feed of the crowd once again? We shall see, but expect them to give a Russell Crowe( in Gladiator) type effort.