2010 Stanley Cup finals: What this series means for both teams

bobby hull.jpgOnce the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins were ousted from the second round of the playoffs, it became clear that this year’s Stanley Cup finals would not have a “been there, done that” feeling. The Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers ensure that whoever wins the Cup will end a long drought for a historic NHL team.

In this first post, I’ll take a look at what’s at stake for each franchise (and fan base). After that, there will be chatter about which players have won Cups and which ones might be looking at their last chance.

Long time coming

Despite being (more or less) a fixture among the Eastern Conference contenders since their infamous Broadstreet Bullies days, the Philadelphia Flyers haven’t managed to raise the Cup since 1975. They couldn’t it make it happen with volatile puck-mover Ron Hextall or Eric Lindros’ Legion of Doom or the one-two center punch of Jeremy Roenick and Keith Primeau.

Chicago Blackhawks fans have been waiting even longer since their last sip from Lord Stanley’s trophy. The last time the Original Six franchise won it was 1961 … when there were six teams and the Bobby Hull-Stan Mikita combination captivated the Windy City.

Forgive fans for either franchise if they fail to “act like they’ve been there before.” Not many of them have, particularly with a large young fan base in Chicago.

Is it now or never?

There’s reason to believe that this might be the best chance that both teams will have to win a Cup, even though the Flyers may be forgiven for taking a “Just happy to be there” mentality and both teams are stocked with plenty of young talent.

I’ve documented Chicago’s looming cap headaches already and one can only imagine Antti Niemi’s restricted free agent contract will make for more challenges (more on that later). Barring some Scott Gomez to Montreal type trade miracles with the likes of Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet, my guess is that the Blackhawks will go from a ridiculously deep team to a squad that depends heavily on its big contract guys in Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Marian Hossa. That might not be enough in an always-loaded West.

With Philadelphia, you have to wonder if they’ll be able to make it back simply because of their Eastern Conference superiors. I’ve stated before that the Capitals should be able to bolster their lineup with oodles and noodles of cap space this summer. It’s no secret that Philly struggles with their cross-state rivals in Pittsburgh (0 for 2 in playoff series in the Crosby Era), too. It could be years before the Flyers have another chance to get to the finals without going through one – if not both – of Pittsburgh and Washington.

It’s a cliche to say that young players like Patrick Kane and Claude Giroux shouldn’t “take this trip for granted because you never know when you’ll be back again” but it’s true. Just ask a player like Gary Roberts, who won a Cup with the late-80s Flames and didn’t see the finals again until he was a greybeard with the Penguins in ’09.

They need to cherish this moment and … most importantly, they need to win.

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    Video: Kings, Kopitar exploit Edler’s gaffe for OT win vs. Canucks

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    Alexander Edler probably feels some serious shame right now.

    The Vancouver Canucks defenseman is getting some heat for a bad blunder on what became the Los Angeles Kings’ overtime game-winning goal by Anze Kopitar.

    You can see the decisive goal in the video above, which meant a 2-1 overtime victory for the Kings over the Canucks.

    Just a (safe for work) sampling of the reactions toward Edler:

    Again, those are the more … sanitized reactions.

    Jacob Markstrom didn’t get the win despite keeping Vancouver in the game. The big Swede made 38 out of 40 saves, yet that last goal will burn.

    For Los Angeles, it’s another reminder that this team sure is scrappy.

    Let’s be honest: it’s better to go late into a game with a lead against the Kings, but a small margin makes for some serious discomfort.

    Malkin, Kessel dominate as Pens stump Sharks

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    Sometimes an angry Evgeni Malkin means a stray power play or two for his opponents, but it’s usually not the best idea to make him angry.

    Giving a player that big and talented extra motivation just seems like a bad idea, right?

    Joel Ward experienced that phenomenon on Tuesday, as Malkin responded to a blow from Ward with the goal you can see below.

    Malkin scored a goal and two assists while Phil Kessel found the net twice in Pittsburgh’s 5-1 win against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.

    Malkin now has a four-game goal streak going (five goals, three assists). He also has 13 points in his past seven games.

    Marc-Andre Fleury deserves plenty of credit, too, as he stopped 33 out of 34 shots and continues to quietly generate some of the best work of his sometimes-polarizing career.

    This was a nice way for the Penguins to begin a four-game Western road trip, although they’ll need to wait a while to try to keep it going; their next game comes in Los Angeles on Saturday.

    Of course: Ryan Suter wins it for Wild vs. ‘Hawks after those wild quotes

    NBCSN screen

    You know what they say: “What a difference a game makes.”

    Even in the 82-game marathon that an NHL regular season is, that can be true.

    Ryan Suter admitted he went too far with comments during tough times, yet there he was on Tuesday night, grinning ear-to-ear after scoring the 2-1 goal that ended up being the game-winner.

    Heck, people were even joking about things. The healing powers of winning, right?

    As of this writing, this win places Minnesota in the last wild card spot, and they’re close to elbowing in on the Chicago Blackhawks (who own a standings point advantage, but have played two more games so far in 2015-16).

    Jeremy Roenick labels this 2-1 win as a “team win” for Minnesota, and it showed on that 2-1 goal, as the Wild showed off some picture-perfect passing and a willingness to crash the net for rebounds.

    Let’s face it, though; Devan Dubnyk deserves plenty of credit, too.

    It won’t be easy in the Central Division, and things may get heated again. Still, this is the sort of win that may just help Minnesota build up some confidence.

    Hey look: Flyers reel off three straight wins for first time in 2015-16

    Sean Couturier
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    When you’re talking about bright sides, most people believe that they boil down to the light at the end of the tunnel for the Philadelphia Flyers.

    Sometimes it’s nice to enjoy a little success in the present while waiting for that bright future, though.

    The Flyers are providing at least a burst of sunshine lately, as Tuesday’s 4-2 win against the Ottawa Senators gives them … (drum roll) their first three-game winning streak of this season.

    Joy abounded.

    Even in recent darker moments, Philly’s been pretty impressive on offense, so Flyers fans are likely relieved to see a relative offensive outburst.

    Sure, it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns – Radko Gudas might have gotten himself into some trouble, for instance – yet this is still a nice sign of life for a team expected to finish in the draft lottery.

    If that fails … hey, the future may require shades.