NHL

Stanley Cup Final Predictions

This week has been somewhat bitter sweet in the hockey world.

The return of hockey to the ‘Peg has Canadian hockey fans jubilant, while the folding of the Lewiston MAINEiacs of the Quebec Major Junior League reminds us that the hockey business is a just that, a business.

However, it is the quest for Lord Stanley’s Cup that sits front and centre, a battle between the East and the West.

A battle between an Original Six team that plays in a city that has won Six major Sports titles since 2000 and a city that is still basking in the afterglow of a successful Olympics and the skill of a set of Swedish superstars.

How did the Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins reach this point?

The Bruins battle their bitter rivals in the first round, edging the Montreal Canadiens in overtime of game 7, before sweeping a lacklustre Philadelphia Flyers. They faced a tougher opponent in the Tampa Bay Lightning, but took care of Dwayne Roloson and company in seven games to reach the Finals.

Across the continent, the Vancouver Canucks faced a familiar foe in round one, however this year they took care of their nemesis Chicago Blackhawks in seven games before taking care of business in the second round, knocking the Nashville Predators out in Six. A bigger test awaited the Canucks in the Western Finals, but the San Jose Sharks forgot to show up and were easily pushed aside in five games.

So there it is, a battle of the best in the Stanley Cup finals.

The Boston Bruins. The Vancouver Canucks.

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Vancouver Canucks (1) vs (3) Boston Bruins

With such talent on the ice and so many key players on either side of the puck, we look at the top three match ups in the series before making our predictions:

Roberto Luongo vs Tim Thomas Both goaltenders of the highest pedigree, but both men have had a proverbial monkey on their back throughout these playoffs.

Luongo has faced his share of criticism and no player will receive more blame for their team losing the series than the Canucks netminder, on the other side of the puck Tim Thomas has show both flashes of brilliance and moments of the ridiculous. Pulling off amazing saves but followed up by some of the weakest goals we’ve seen Thomas let in.

Their numbers are so close it’s almost impossible to call.

Who has the edge? My edge goes to Luongo, winning the gold medal in Vancouver may be comparing apples and oranges in this case, but the experience and winning under pressure gives him my edge.

The Sedins vs David Krejci and Nathan HortonJust looking at the names, it’s a lopsided battle, right?

Well, David Krejci is tied for the playoff goal scoring lead with 10 goals and Nathan Horton trails with 8 goals and a combined point total of 34 points, while the Sedin Brothers combine for just 9 goals but 37 points.

The Sedins post a plus/minus of -8 and just 3 game Winning Goals. On the other hand, the combination of Krejci and Horton have a pretty +15 plus/minus, 8 game winning goals

It was pretty obvious that in the first round the Canucks struggled with the Sedins shut down and when the Preds were able to keep the brothers off the score board in game one of their series they had success, but the super Swedes are the key to Boston’s success in this series.

Who has the edge? The edge goes to Krejci and Horton, but the Sedins are still waiting for their breakout of the playoffs and it has to happen sometime.

Ryan Kesler vs Milan Lucic Yes, I know, they play a different position, but Kesler and Lucic are the passion behind each team.

Lucic is the breakout player the Bruins are waiting to explode and his big body presence, his grit and his work ethic can be game winning factors for the Bruins.

Meanwhile, Kesler has been Mr. Clutch for the Canucks, don’t think he means that much? How about the groan heard around the league when he limped off the ice last series?

Kesler has 7 goals and 18 points, a plus/minus of +6 and two game winning goals, while Lucic sits with 3 goals and 9 points, an even plus/minus and a whopping 43 penalty minutes. The numbers don’t say a lot, but these two players are as key to their teams winning as their high-flying scorers and goalies.

Who has the edge? The edge goes to Ryan Kesler, who in round one showed he is capable of putting his team on his back when needed. We’re still waiting for Lucic to do the same.

Kevin Bieksa, Alexander Edler and Dan Hamhuis vs Zdeno Chara Big bad Chara had a blip on the radar in the first series, suffering from dehydration, but the Boston defensemen has been brilliant for the Bruins and continues to log key minutes, averaging 28:17 minutes a game and carrying a +11 plus/minus.

For the Canucks it has been defence by committee,  eight players hitting the ice for the defence throughout the playoffs and someone different stepping up each night due to injuries.

Kevin Bieksa has been an overtime hero for the Canucks, while Edler and Hamhuis continue to be Mr. Reliable and helping to keep their opposition in check. All three Canucks defencemen log around 25 minutes of ice time a game and average 32 shifts a game.

Who has the edge? The fact that the Canucks have three defencemen who can log  key minutes gives them the edge in this series, but the influence and game changing abilities of Chara makes this one too close to call. It’s a stalement between the defence corps.

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What’s my prediction? It’s going to be a close series, a tough series that will be a battle on every single level and every single shift.

My heart tells me the Canucks should win, while my head shows that the Bruins are   have got the pedigree and intangibles a team needs to lift the Cup.

I have a feeling the Sedins will seize the day and take over this series, so i’m going to call the Canucks in Six.

Henry is a contributor to Sportstream.ca and part of the Bill McLean Sports Show on 88.1 CKDU every Tuesday Morning at 11. You can follow him on twitter at HenryWhitfield, where he live tweets his thoughts during each Mooseheads games
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NHL Western Conference Final Predos

Vancouver Canucks (1) vs San Jose Sharks (2)

Many chalked in this matchup months ago and after battling through the first two rounds, the Sharks and Canucks are ready to battle it out for the Western Conference.

While the Sharks got here through their big guys showing up, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau both showed up against the Red Wings. However, the Canucks have rode the play of Ryan Kesler while their twin stars fail to shine and play supporting cast.

The Sedin Twins have the stars aligned to get going, with the Sharks Penalty Killing hurting the brothers should be able to start firing on all cylinders in no-time at all.

Roberto Luongo has everything to prove while Antti Niemi has been there and done that. The series pits a top pedigree goalie who hasn’t proved himself in the playoffs against a goalie that can’t get it done but has a Stanley Cup win on his resume.

Key Players: The Sedin Twins are the way to the Stanley Cup for the Canucks and will need to start playing for this team to get to the promised land. Kesler can only carry the team so far before the talented duo have to pick up the slack.

My Prediction? The Canucks win in Six, pitting them up against the Boston Bruins for Hockey’s holy grail.

Agree? Disagree? Think i’m crazy? That’s fine, chime in with your 2-Cents below in the comments section and let us know your predictions and thoughts for the second round of the playoffs.

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Henry is a contributor to Sportstream.ca and part of the Bill McLean Sports Show on 88.1 CKDU every Tuesday Morning at 11. You can follow him on twitter at HenryWhitfield, where he live tweets his thoughts during each Mooseheads games

NHL Eastern Conference Final Predos

Then there were four.

With the Conference Finals starting tonight with the battle in the East, let’s take a look at how I did in the last round:

Canucks in Six, Canucks won in Six

Detroit in Six, San Jose won in Seven

Caps in Five, Lightning Swept Caps in Four

Flyers in Seven, Boston Swept Flyers in Four

Not great at all, picking just one out of four correctly and yet not many had Flyers and Caps being swept. Nonetheless, here are my predictions for the Eastern Conference Final starting tonight:

Boston Bruins (3) vs  (5) Tampa Bay Lightning 

This series is all about the underdog fighting it’s way to the top, The Lightning scraped together wins on the back of overachieving Dwayne Roloson and the surprise play of Sean Bergenheim who leads both teams with seven goals so far in the playoffs.

While the Lightning is overachieving, it may surprise some that the Bruins have made it to the Eastern Conference final while underachieving.

Their powerplay has been abysmal and Tim Thomas has shown weakness and allowed some uncharacteristically bad goals.

The usual suspects will come to play for the Bolts, with Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier stepping up but the better team here is the Boston Bruins.

Biggest matchup will be that of the men in the crease and who will crack first. This series pits the two top goalies against each other and my money is on Roloson cracking first, he may be playing stellar in the playoffs but Thomas has done that all season.

Throw in the massive Zdeno Chara, the scoring threat of Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Nathan Horton and Mark Rechi with a supporting cast of Rich Peverley, Michael Ryder and Milan Lucic and you have just the tip of the iceberg in talent that Boston boasts.

Simply put? The Bolts will be hard-pressed to take this series to seven unless Rolo can stand on his head.

Some may argue that the Bolts beat a good team in the last round, but let’s get one thing straight the Boston Bruins are a far better team than the Washington Capitals and a Crosby-less Pittsburgh Penguins.

Key Player: Dwayne Roloson is the key for the Bolts, he’s currently standing on his head and the top goalie in the playoffs and will need to put up a brick-wall in his crease to keep his team in this series.

My Prediction? The Bruins finish this one quickly and take a breather, this series is won by the Bruins in Six.

Come back tomorrow for my Western Conference Final Predictions.

Agree? Disagree? Think i’m crazy? That’s fine, chime in with your 2-Cents below in the comments section and let us know your predictions and thoughts for the second round of the playoffs.

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Henry is a contributor to Sportstream.ca and part of the Bill McLean Sports Show on 88.1 CKDU every Tuesday Morning at 11. You can follow him on twitter at HenryWhitfield, where he live tweets his thoughts during each Mooseheads games

Second Round Stanley Cup Predos

Before we kick into the next round, how did I do in the first found?

Canucks in Six, Canucks won in Seven

Sharks in Five, Sharks won in Six

‘Yotes in Seven, Red Wings won in Four

Ducks in Six, Predators won in Six

Caps in Six, Caps in Five

Flyers in Six, Flyers in Seven

Bruins in Five, Bruins in Seven

Lightning in Seven, Lightning in Seven

Perfect for winner of the series in the East and got the Bolts-Pens series dead on, while I went 50% in the West and was upset by the Red Wings and Predators

One last kudos to Teemu Selanne who lead the first round with six goals and who knows if the flash will be back in the NHL next season.

So without further adieu, here are my second round predos:

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(1) Vancouver Canucks vs (5) Nashville Predators

While I was surprised that Nashville dealt with Anaheim so easily, I wasn’t surprised by the Canucks overcoming their daemons to get past the Chicago Blackhawks. That being said, I was impressed with the work ethic of the Predators and am less than impressed with the Sedin twins and the play of Roberto Luongo.

Pekka Rinne will be looked to by his team mates to continue his stellar play, but if Luongo finds his game then the backstoppers will be quite evenly matched.

This series will be another battle and the Canucks will need to dig deep to match the hard hitting, gritty Predators who dealt with a talented Ducks team with ease.

The key to this series will be the Sedin twins waking up and the third and fourth lines of the Canucks continuing to battle hard every shift.

Key Player(s): Sedin Twins, they need to score or else he Canucks are saying seeya later to the playoffs.

My Prediction? Canucks beat the Predators in Six, but drop the first game.

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(2) San Jose vs (3) Detroit Red Wings

With the San Jose Sharks still battling to get rid of their ‘choke specialists’ tag, the veteran and experienced Detroit Red Wings continue to do what they do best: Win in the playoffs.

The aged Red Wings dealt with the ‘Yotes easily and have had enough time to get their old bodies healthy for the next round and that’s something the Sharks don’t want.

Datsyuk was a stud in the first round and this team is once again built for the playoffs, not to mention Jimmy Howard has grown into a reliable goalie behind a strong defensive unit.

On the other side of the ice, there is an unproven group of super talented players that continue to battle their past in the playoffs.

Antti Niemi may have won a cup last year but he didn’t’ exactly steal many games, he had more than a few goals put past him against he Kings and is the clear weakness in this San Jose team.

I’d love to see the Sharks meet the Canucks in the Western Finals but unless Joe Thornton throws the team on his back and scores a hat-trick a game, they will find it hard pressed to get past Hockey Town.

Key Player: Leaning on their experience, Nicklas Lidstrom will need to lead by example and get his team past a talented San Jose side.

My Prediction? Detroit is too much to handle, they win in Six

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(1) Washington Capitals – (5) Tampa Bay Lightning

A matchup of two of the best shooters in the game with Ovechkin and Stamkos squaring off in this series, but it may just come down to goaltending once again.

Old man time is no issue for Dwayne Roloson and he will look to continue his strong post-season play and hope that other veterans Vincent LEcavalier, Martin St. Louis and Mattias Ohlund can drive their team past a locked-and-loaded Capitals team.

Down the other end of the ice, it’s Bruce Boudreau’s defence-first Capitals who are showing a new side and allowed just 8 goals in the first round against the Rangers.

The usual suspects will need to get it done for the Captials, reline on NIcklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin, Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green to get the job done.

Key Player? Alexander Semin will need to score goals and keep converting the chances that Ovechkin is setting up for him.

My prediction?  Tampa Bay will battle hard but the Capitals are on a mission and are all business this post-season, Caps win in Five

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(2) Philadelphia Flyers – (3) Boston Bruins

The Bruins enter the series after winning an emotional series against Montreal but still have a lot to prove.

A historic collapse against the Flyers in last years playoffs will be in their minds as they face a team injected with a healthy Chris Pronger but plagued by inconsistent goaltending.

After using three goalies, all looking horrible at times, the Flyers will hope to get solid play between the pipes to compete with the perennial maverick Tim Thomas, who let in a few soft goals himself in the first series.

This will be the best series in the second round and will be an all out battle; whether it is Chara vs Pronger, Horton vs Briere, Lucic vs Hartnell or Thomas vs whoever stays in the Flyers net the longest.

Key Player: As usual, this Flyers team lives and breathes by the example set by Chris Pronger and will rely on the wily veteran’s example to win this series.

My prediction? Flyers in Seven, with at least three of the games going to overtime.

Agree? Disagree? Think i’m crazy? That’s fine, chime in with your 2-Cents below in the comments section and let us know your predictions and thoughts for the second round of the playoffs.

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Henry is a contributor to Sportstream.ca and part of the Bill McLean Sports Show on 88.1 CKDU every Tuesday Morning at 11. You can follow him on twitter at HenryWhitfield, where he live tweets his thoughts during each Mooseheads games

First Round Stanley Cup Predos

Stanley Cup Predictions, 2011 Edition

The defending champion Chicago Blackhawks are in tough against the top team in the NHL when they face off with Vancouver tonight.

While in the East, it’s a battle of proving your worth with the top seeded Capitals trying to break away from their playoff woes against the Rangers.

I’m sure many of you will disagree or have your own opinions, so feel free to share them in the comments section and let me know your predictions.

Without further adieu, here are my predictions for the first round of the playoffs and who I think can change the course of each series.

The West

Vancouver Canucks – Chicago Blackhawks

While Chicago has had Vancouver’s number the last few times they’ve duked it out in the playoffs, this years edition sees the Canucks more confident and ready to go.

The Sedins are once again on fire and Roberto Luongo is playing some of the best hockey of his career while the Blackhawks slipped into the playoffs and have battled injuries down the stretch.

Key Player: Jonathan Toews, Captain serious has the potential to steal the series if he gets hot and throws his team on his back.

My prediction? Canucks in Six

San Jose Sharks – LA Kings

The Sharks broke their playoff duck last year and are locked and loaded for another drive deeper into the playoffs, the Kings have fought well the last few weeks despite key injuries but are not at the level needed to beat the Sharks in a best of seven.

With everyone chipping in, the Sharks looked primed for the playoffs and ready to build on last year’s success.

Key Player: Joe Thornton had a quiet season scoring goals by his standards, but his big body presence and ability to pass the puck will push the Sharks over the edge.

My prediction? Sharks in Five

Detroit Red Wings – Phoenix Coyotes

Experience verse youth in this battle, the Red Wings pipped the Coyotes in game Seven last year and many expect them to do it again this year.

However, with the Coyotes showing great confidence and an old, fragile Red Wings team not looking like their former selves i’m giving the edge to a Yandle led Phoenix team.

This is my upset of the first round and it’s but a pipe dream.

Key Player: Jimmy Howard picked up a win in his final appearance of the regular season and Howard will  have the ability to steal this one for the Red Wings.

My Prediction? Coyotes in Seven

Anaheim Ducks – Nashville Predators

With what may be the best top line in the NHL right now, the Ducks were carried on the back of Cory Perry straight into the playoffs.

Nashville will have their hands full not just shutting down Perry but his linemates and a rejuvenated Teemu Selanne who finished 8th in scoring despite his age.

Goaltending is the big issue for the Ducks, with both their choice starters battling against time to get fit for the playoffs.

Key Player: To beat the Ducks, the Preds need to shut down Cory Perry. Goodluck. The kid has been on fire and his scoring touch will be the key to the Ducks overcoming their goaltending woes.

My Prediction? Ducks in Six

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The East

No Sidney Crosby to light up the playoffs, a Halak-less Habs and lots of upset potential litter the first round in the East.

Washington Capitals – New York Rangers

This matchup has upset written all over it, but i’m willing to give the Caps the credit that winning the East is due.

Look to Ovechkin to play supporting star in this series, with Semin leading the offensive charge.

King Henrick has the ability to steal a game or two, but it’s Washington’s year to prove they are the quality they believe they have .

Key Player: Sorry, this is a battle between the coaches. Tortorella and Bruce Boudreau will be providing some of the best sound bytes for decades, don’t turn away.

My Prediction? Capitals in Six

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Philadelphia Flyers – Buffalo Sabres

Sorry Ryan Miller, the Flyers are built for the playoffs and itching to make good on falling short last season.

Lead by the tandem of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, this Flyers team has just one big question mark: Will Chris Pronger play or not?

Pronger is the key cog in the Flyers wheel and the Sabres will catch a huge break if the big man doesn’t get his usual ice-time.

Miller will need to stand on his head to steal a few games in this one.

Key Player: The big X-Factor for the Flyers is Chris Pronger and his health will help decide this series.

My Prediction? Flyers in Six.

Boston Bruins – Montreal Canadiens

The one matchup the Habs didn’t want and they’re stuck playing the Boston Bruins.

Last year the Habs rode the unflappable Halak and will need Carey Price to stand on his head, build a brick wall and cross his fingers to beat the Bruins.

Boston is bigger, faster, stronger and have offensive weapons on all four lines.

Over a seven game series, the Habs don’t seem tough enough to compete and will have a hard time competing in every game.

Key Player: Carey Price. He needs to continue to be outstanding like all season and will have to do everything in his power to keep his team alive.

My Prediction? Bruins in Five

Pittsburgh Penguins – Tampa Bay Lightning

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are out, but the Penguins have been winning as a team for a while now.

The team has shown a spirited resiliency fighting into the playoffs and as a team have really come together.

The offensive firepower of Steven Stamkos, Vincent Lecalier and Martin St. Louis will be looking to push their team Marc-Andre Fleury, while the Pens will be looking to exploit the Lightnings biggest weakness: Dwayne Roloson.

Key Player: Steven Stamkos was on fire early on in the season and will need to get back to his high flying offensive ways, if Stamkos is scoring and the powerplay is clicking the Lightning can win this one.

My Prediction? Lightning in Seven, with lots of overtime hockey.

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Henry is a contributor to Sportstream.ca and part of the Bill McLean Sports Show on 88.1 CKDU every Tuesday Mornings at 11. You can follow him on twitter at HenryWhitfield, where he live tweets his thoughts during each Mooseheads games

 

That’s all she wrote…

a month of competition, thousands of minutes of hockey played and countless highlight reel plays the Stanley Cup was decided in one of the most anti-climactic moments in recent sport history.

Patrick Kane danced along the side boards, drove to the net and put a bad angled shot through Michael Leighton but the puck lodged itself into the side of the net and the celebration was delayed by the confusion. It was an awkward moment as the Chicago coaching staff didn’t celebrate but their team swarmed the goal scorer as he skated full length celebrating his goal. Moments later it was confirmed: The Chicago Blackhawks were the 2010 Stanley Cup Champions.

With that goal the dream came to fruition for the Chicago Blackhawks, who had gone 49 years without a championship, and in that same moment the come-back kid Philadelphia Flyers were dealt a final, crushing blow in what had almost been a Cinderella-like playoffs.

When Scotty Hartnell scored to take the game to overtime with under five-minutes left, I high-fived my friends and cried out “Flyers in Seven,” maybe it was my premature excitement that cost the boys the cup but it meant that I had failed to get a series correct since the second round.

Jonathan Toews was deservedly awarded to the Conn Smyth trophy, an award that almost certainly would have gone to Chris Pronger if his team had pulled off another come from behind victory, and the famously serious captain finally cracked a smile.

Here are some final thoughts on the Stanley Cup Finals and the 2010 Playoffs:

  • Love him or hate him, Chris Pronger made the 2010 playoff’s more fun than usual; Whether it was his antics in stealing the game puck after Chicago wins, or his quick quips to the media throughout, he gave the fans something that we haven’t seen since Jeremy Roenick was in the playoffs.
  • ith 28 Canadians playing in the Stanley Cup final last night and another 11 that were not dressed, it is safe to say that Canada is on top of the Hockey world. As I pointed out after round one, it just doesn’t seem that European players in the NHL have that desire or passion to go after the Cup like their North American counterparts.
  • This year marks another season that the Stanley Cup has gone south of the border and it has now been too many years since a Canadian team has lifted hockey’s holy grail. The Montreal Canadiens almost ended the drought but only time will tell when the Stanley Cup will come home next. Leafs in 2011 anyone? You heard it here first!
  • Get ready for some outrageous contract signings in this offseason. Players like Jaroslav Halak, Dustin Byfuglien and need another younger player all had outstanding playoff performances and will look to cash in on their new found stardom.
  • This year’s Stanley Cup finals may have been short on goaltending excellence but made up for it with some of the best offensive battles in recent memory. Not being a goalie, I don’t mind seeing games finish with goals galore and this year’ finals should help grow the game down south, with some of the most exciting hockey in years.
  • Last but not least, Jonathan Toews showed a lot of class last night as he passed the Cup straight to Marian Hossa after lifting the cup himself. Hossa was trying for his third straight year to win the Stanley Cup and it was a touching moment as all the gathered Blackhawk players chanted his name.

Playoff Awards

Breakout Player – Although the Canadiens didn’t hoist the cup, it was definitely a coming out party for Jaroslav Halak. He posted a neat 2.55 GAA and led all goalies with a .923 save percentage.

Biggest Disappointment – Although Ilya Kovulchuk was an utter failure for New Jersey and helped them flop, the biggest disappointment in the playoffs goes to Washington Capital’s forward Alex Ovechkin. The talismanic forward failed to drive his team forward and elimination in the first round is unacceptable.

Top Defencemen – Chris Pronger was a beast throughout the playoffs and often played more than half of most games in the 2010 playoffs. The Canadian battled not only the ice but with the media storm around his team, and once again he threw an underachieving team on his back and carried them deep into the playoffs.

Top Forward – Hard to argue against the numbers Jonathan Toews put up throughout the playoffs but I am going to and put it out there that Daniel Briere was the top forward in this year’s playoffs. The small forward had 12 goals and 18 assists to give him the playoff point lead at 30 points. We finally saw his talent come to the forefront and he was a catalyst for the Flyers. He also added a +9 plus/minus throughout the playoffs.

Top Goalie – Sure he let a terrible goal in to allow the Chicago Blackhawks to hoist the cup but Michael Leighton was by far the best goalie in the playoffs. Registering 3 shutouts in the last series allowed the Flyers to get as close as they did this year and the kid finished with a GAA 2.46 of and a .916 save percentage.

With the playoffs completed, I feel compelled to share my wonderful prediction record. After going 6/8 in the first round, I fell to bits and failed to keep up the pace. I finished with an 8/15 record, good enough for a 53% record but nothing to phone home about.

Now the playoffs are finished and the rest of the teams have joined Toronto on the Golf Course only one question remains: Taylor or Tyler

Henry Whitfield is an avid sports fan who covers everything and anything in the sports world, while focusing on hockey and football. Follow him on twitter @HenryWhitfield.

Home Sweet Home…

The Philadelphia Flyers headed home after Game 2 knowing they were in danger of letting this series slip away.

Hockey Pundits were claiming the Flyers couldn’t handle the wonder kids Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, let alone find an answer to the unstoppable force of Dustin Byfuglien.

Two games later and the Flyers now sit two games apiece with the Chicago Blackhawks, and the kids from Chicago look like they have no answer for the hard-hitting, aggressive, in your face play of the Philadelphia Flyers.

As predicted, Chris Pronger has been the catalyst for this team’s success and has completely shut down the high-powered, speedy offence that the Chicago Blackhawks bring to the table.

  • All we hear about is Chris Pronger; well it’s his defensive partner that should get some praise too. Matt Carle is the other half to the best shutdown player in the NHL today and most wouldn’t be able to name him as Pronger’s defensive partner. He has logged an average of 25:39 minutes/game and has 13 points with a plus/minus of +10.
  • Speaking of Chris Pronger, I called him a monster after game one and two and he’s continued to dominate this series. Whether it’s in the media getting under the skin of the Chicago players of manhandling their small forwards, Pronger has been all over this Blackhawks team. After going posting a plus/minus of +4 in game four, he is now +7 in this series. Not bad for a guy that plays almost half of every game.
  • After being quiet so far this series Flyers Captain Mike Richards finally woke up and played like the player he can be; Picked up the opening goal on a smart, heads-up play and looked dangerous all night. If the Flyers want to keep the momentum going in Chicago they need Richards to keep his form.

  • From a captain leading by example to a captain that has gone missing. Jonathan Toews has started to vanish in this series and topped it off missing an open cage with just minutes remaining in the game. The top line produced just one assist and looked pretty useless out there.

So far both teams have cemented their place at home but this is essentially a best of three series with two of the games in Chicago. Can the Flyers break down the Madhouse on Madison or will Chicago hold strong and break the hearts of Flyers fans all over.

My prediction, albeit mocked by all when made, of the Flyers winning in seven games still looks good but I’m worried they may pull it off in six.

That is for now, check later for breakdown of the QMJHL draft day and the rest of my Stanley Cup analysis.

Henry Whitfield is an avid sports fan who covers everything and anything in the sports world, while focusing on hockey and football. Follow him on twitter @HenryWhitfield.