The Stanley Cup Final
After 3 gruelling rounds of intense hockey, an enough injuries to keep at least a couple people busy with locum doctor jobs (not to mention the dentist work…), we have finally arrived at the Stanley Cup final. A series of up to seven games will be played to see which team will take home the biggest prize in franchise ice hockey. The two teams battling it out this year are the Chicago Blackhawks, tipped as possibly the best team in the NHL for their offensive prowess and blistering speed, and the Philadelphia Flyers who, along with plenty of grit and determination, also include a few fantastic speedy forwards.
The Chicago Blackhawk’s appearance in the Stanley Cup final is hardly a surprise to most. They finished second in the regular season in the Western Conference only one point behind San Jose and have gone about their business in the playoffs in a ruthless manner.
After stuttering a little against the Nashville Predators, the Blackhawks went on to defeat them in six games. The turning point of that series was, of course, the last minute heroics of a shorthanded Chicago team in game five. They tied up the game, one man down, in the last minute, then defended four minutes of a Nashville power play in the overtime before Marian Hossa came off the bench and won them the game.
Since then, it has been easy going for the Hawks, they demolished Vancouver in six games and then swept the impressive San Jose Sharks in the Conference final. Pundits and fans around the world are tipping the Blackhawks to take the Cup this year, and who can blame them?
Philadelphia’s route to the final was a little different to Chicago’s and arguably more difficult. After surprisingly, and impressively beating the New Jersey Devils in five games in round one, people took notice of the Flyers, who finished seventh in the regular season in the East.
It had seemed like the wheels had come off in round two as Boston raced to a 3-0 lead in the series. However, a remarkable comeback would leave Boston stunned and Philly jubilant as they recovered to take the series 4-3. What makes this comeback even more impressive is the fact that in game seven, Boston were up 3-0. Philadelphia became only the third NHL team to recover in such a manner and the first since 1975.
A relatively easy five game series in the Eastern Conference finals against Montreal followed to set them up with the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup final. Despite their strong run to the final and despite having players like Mike Richards and Daniel Briere, I think Chicago have too much offence and speed for the Flyers to contain and the latter could sweep the finals.
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