Are the Flyers the "Cinderella" team of the NHL this year? No. That was Montreal. Philly is a well balanced team, much like the Hawks, in a relatively unbalanced Eastern Conference. I'm going to take a look at some of the players from each team and who the wins the match up for each team. Also, remember, that the links will take you to cards of each player that are for sale through Sportsbuy.com, and that I am offering free shipping on all orders of $5.00, or more, until the end of May.
Captains: Toews v. Richards. Both players are leaders and have won at each level they've played at. They're both willing to do whatever it takes to win games. Both have level heads and know what to do, how to do it, and where to do it, to get the job done. Toews is without a doubt the heart of the Hawks. The Flyers did well when Richards was out earlier this year. Edge: Draw.
Snippers: Kane v. Gagne. Kaner, as he is called by teammates, can place pucks into small areas of nets and thread needles in the passing lanes. Gagne is adept at doing the same, but not as well as Kane. Gagne has also had injury problems in the past...including this season. Both players are playing at the tops of their games right now. Edge: Kane.
Secondary Scoring: Bolland v. Giroux. Bolland has done a good job of shutting down the top players on other teams by being a pest, and has the skill set to score a few goals. Giroux also has the hands to score a couple (as he showed in Game 7 against Montreal-Suh-weet goal). Giroux is also good at shutting down opponents, but may not nag the other teams top forwards as well as Bolland does. Edge: Bolland.
Fourth Liners: Eager v. Lapierriere. Eager is a pain in the but. He hits everything that moves and doesn't take any poop from anybody that can also score if given the chance. Lapierriere never stops running his mouth, but can anyone really understand what he's saying on the ice with his accent and a mouth piece? Does it matter? No. He is willing to do what it takes to win, whether that's blocking shots with his face, if need be (won't hurt as much now with that cage). He is effective as being a shut down type player and can net a few. He may be looking at his last chance to win a Cup since he is getting up there in years, and will play with abandonment. Edge: Lapierriere.
Norris Trophy D-men: Keith v. Pronger. Both players have very active sticks and are very good at getting those sticks in passing lanes. Keith has more speed, but Pronger plays with more of an edge. Both jump into the play and can pot a few if the opportunity presents itself. Edge: Keith.
Shot Blocking Defenseman: Sopel v. ???. I haven't watch the Flyers closely enough to see which d-man on their team blocks a lot of shots. I have seen Sopel blocking a lot of shots though. It shows since he looks like he fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. Edge: ???-we will find out.
Shut Down Defenseman: Hjalmerson v. Coburn. Both of these guys can make a great first pass out of the zone, which is necessary to form a breakout and start the transition to offense. Both players are more than willing to lay a big hit. Hjalmerson is more than willing to block shots and can be paired with just about any d-man in the Hawks lineup. Coburn has come a long way in his development. He keeps players to the outside. Edge: Hjalmerson.
Goal: Niemi v. Leighton. Both of these guys have stood on their heads during the post season. Niemi has been dominate and has stolen his fair share of games this post season. Leighton, who has also been dominate, is finally coming into his own. Edge: Niemi.
Back Up Goalies: Huet v. Boucher. Edge: Draw. Doesn't matter since neither of these guys can stop a beach ball.
Getting lost in the Hossa hype, is that this is also Leino's third straight time to the Finals (2 with Detroit and now with Philly).
Patrick Sharp and Ben Eager broke into the league with the Flyers, and Leighton and Boucher have both been Blackhawks.
Edge: Chicago. They have more depth, skill, and are an overall deeper team than the Flyers.
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