Monday, June 7, 2010

Chicago never had Game 5 in Doubt: The Blackhawks are One win away from the Stanley Cup Final

With a 3 goal spurt in just under six minutes which had goals by Seabrook, Bolland & Versteeg helped lay the foundation of what was a game that was never in doubt for the Blackhawks as Chicago went on to the 7-4 win to take a 3-2 series lead and can win the Cup on Wednesday Night with a win in Philadelphia.

Patrick Sharp had another big night as he had a goal & an assist to continue his great playoff run which takes him to 21 points while Dustin Byfuglien lead the way for Chicago with 4 points (2G 2A) along with Versteeg had a 3 point night (G 2A).

While guys like Patrick Kane was finally able to break through after having a bit of a scoring drought in the playoffs as Flyers D-Man like Chris Pronger were focusing on him in this Final.

Nemi made 23 saves in the win where he didn't have his best night, but with the offense, neither goalie was that great to begin with. As for Michael Leighton, he was pulled after giving up the 3 goals in the first period, Brian Boucher who played his first action since May 29 where he made 11 saves on 14 shots.

With the offense, he was doing his best to help keep the Flyers in the game, but with the way the Blackhawks were responding to basically after every Flyers goal when they thought the Flyers had some hope, it would be shot down by another Blackhawks goal.

My pick for MVP right now for the Blackhawks is one of the two Patrick's. Either Patrick Sharp or Patrick Kane will win the MVP Award for the Final. Sharp has been a menace all over the ice with his 21 points (10G 11A) and is not afraid to mix it up in the hits with his 16 penalty minutes and is one of the few guys that can neutralize Chris Pronger. Kane is up to 25 points including 16 assists which is 2nd in the entire playoffs. His speed makes teams sweat and he's nearly impossible to stop.

The Flyers couldn't stop the Blackhawks offense as they were playing from behind virtually the whole night despite great efforts by players Villie Leino who had 3 assists. However, Chris Pronger who's been the emotional leader of the team was defensive liability with a -5 in the game while Matt Carle who was a -3 last night. Philly needs to shore up the defense for Game 6 which includes some goaltending questions on who to start for Game 6 on Wednesday Night.

Chicago will be looking to end of the longest droughts in Stanley Cup History as a win on Wednesday night will give the team their First Stanley Cup since 1961. Game 6 comes up on Wednesday Night in Philly, then if necessary, Game 7 will be back in Chicago on Friday Night where a Stanley Cup Champion would be crowned for sure that night.

Kane Explodes:

Flyers Slump:

Will Boucher or Leighton start in Game 6?

Game 5 Ratings up over last Year:

Game 5 Recap from the National Hockey League Website:

In Chicago: All that was audible inside the Chicago Blackhawks dressing room late Sunday Night were soft voices and shuffling feet of a few dozen reporters battling for position in a scrum just like the players do on the ice.

From east to west and north to south inside the cavernous room, players stood in front of their stalls and quietly talked about dominating Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Smiles were scarce. Strange

The Blackhawks have just skated to a 7-4 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers and a 3-2 lead in the Stanley Cup Final. They've won 67 games this season, and with one more win they can erase 49 years of misery by winning the Stanley Cup. But you could hardly tell by the mood in the room.

"I think it's a sign of reality," Hawks center John Madden said. "We haven't accomplished anything. Yeah, we're up 3-2 in the series and we've been able to hold home ice advantage, but we know how well they play in their building. We have to get our rest, get our mind cleared on what we have to do on Wednesday. You can chalk it up to the maturity, but I think guys are real focused on what they have to do."

The next two days we fell like an eternity for the Hawks. They won't get their first crack at winning the Cup until Wednesday Night in Philadelphia (8 PM EDT on NBC & CBC). The two full off days are not welcome now, not after the way the Hawks played Sunday.

Showing off their brand new lines, created in part by the breakup of their former top line of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien), the Blackhawks raced out to a 3-0 lead after the first 20 minutes, by far their best period of the series.

Byfuglien, who was skating with Kris Verteeg and Dave Bolland, had 2 assists in the first. Brent Seabrook, Bolland and Versteeg all scored in a span of 5:58.

"That was a pace we've been looking for," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said.

It was enough for Flyers Coach Peter Laviolette to pull goalie Michael Leighton (10 saves) for Brian Boucher at the start of the 2nd period. Boucher made only 11 saves, and Laviolette didn't have an answer when he was asked who would start Game 6.

"One thing that I have learned along the way about the playoffs is one game is only one game. There's usually not a carryover effect from game to game," Laviolette said. "This is just one page of the story. Tonight it was their page."

Chicago turned the page on special teams. The Hawks were getting outplayed badly in that department through four games, but they won the battle on Sunday by scoring on 2 of 4 power plays and killing off all three penalties they committed.

The Blackhawks were 1-for-9 on the power play through 4 games while the Flyers were 5-for-16 and had scored at least one power play in each game.

"We did a good job of staying out of the box, better then we've done," Hawks defensemen Duncan Keith said. "We did a good job penalty killing and using our speed. Everybody was battling."

Byfuglien, previously invisible thinks to Chris Pronger, finished with four points (on 2 Goals and 2 assists). He was hard on the puck, physcial in the corners and a force in the slot. He was the game's first star and his power play goal off some tic-tac-toe passing with 4:15 to be in the 2nd period proved to be the game winner. It put the Hawks up 5-2 going into the 3rd period.

"He got rid of us and started performing" Kane said, offering one of the rare jokes we heard after this game. "That's all he needed."

Versteeg, who was disappointed in his effort after two losses in Philly, had three points and was a +3. He was the game's 2nd star. Kane, a minus 4 in Game 4, had a goal and an assist and earned the game's 3rd star.

"Everybody wants to make a difference tonight," Versteeg said.

"Everybody did, including Quenneville, whose decision to change the lines after the forgettable experience in Philly had a lot to do with the energy and speed the Hawks played with on Sunday.

Quenneville played coy about potential line changes Sunday Morning, but he cleary wanted to get Toews, Kane and Byfuglien separated so Pronger wouldn't have as great an effort on three of the Blackhawks top offensive players.


Toews, Kane and Byfuglien combined for seven points and Pronger, a plus 4 in Game 4, finished minus 5 in Game 5, his worst performance of the playoffs in a landslide. He tried to brush it off in another comedic session with the media.

"I'm day-to-day with hurt feelings," Pronger cracked.

At least he has two days to recover.

"It's already gone," Pronger added. "I don't remember anything."

The Blackhawks better remember everything about game 5 because they'll have to replicate the effort and performance Wednesday when they won't have 22,305 screaming fans behind them.

Philadelphia is 9-1 on its home ice in the playoffs and has shown the resiliency of a cat all season, especially this spring. Chicago is 0-for-3 in games inside the Wachovia Center this season and 0-10 since 1996, but the Cup will be in the building and it can be theirs if they win.

Then, and only then, the Hawks celebrate.

"We just realize nothing is won yet," Keith said. "We need one more win to do it."

Chicago Blackhawks Lead Series 3-2

Game Boxscore

Philadelphia Flyers 4 Chicago Blackhawks 7 (0-3, 2-2, 2-2)

0-1 CHI: Brent Seabrook (PP) (Versteeg, Brouwer) 12:17 1st

0-2 CHI: Dave Bolland (Sopel, Byfuglien) 15:26 1st

0-3 CHI: Kris Versteeg (Seabrook, Byfuglien) 18:15 1st

1-3 PHI: Scott Hartnell (Leino, Briere) 0:32 2nd

1-4 CHI: Patrick Kane (Ladd, Sharp) 3:13 2nd

2-4 PHI: Kimmo Timonen (Briere, Leino) 4:38 2nd

2-5 CHI: Dustin Byfuglien (Toews, Keith) 15:45 2nd

3-5 PHI: James Van Riemsdyk (Krajicek, Timonen) 6:36 3rd

3-6 CHI: Patrick Sharp (Kane) 16:08 3rd

4-6 PHI: Simon Gagne (Leino) 17:24 3rd

4-7 CHI: Dustin Byfuglien (EN) (Versteeg, Bolland) 17:55 3rd

Game Stats

SOG: PHI 27 CHI 28

PP: PHI 0/3 CHI 1/4

PIM: PHI 8 Minutes on 4 Penalties CHI 6 Minutes on 3 Penalties

Goalies: PHI Michael Leighton 10 SVS on 13 Shots Brian Boucher 11 SVS on 14 Shots CHI Antti Nemi 23 SVS on 27 Shots

ATT: 22,309

3rd Star: Patrick Kane (CHI)

2nd Star: Kris Versteeg (CHI)

1st Star: Dustin Byfuglien (CHI)

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