2010 Stanley Cup finals: Game 1 preview



Philadelphia Flyers at Chicago Blackhawks

Game 1, Stanley Cup finals

Live on NBC at 8PM ET

We’ve covered the Stanley Cup finals from a dizzying amount of angles. Seriously, it’s as if we put the Cup in one of those “Enter the Dragon” mirrored rooms. To make sure that you’re aware of the biggest stories we covered, here’s a collection of the PHT coverage.

PHT predictions – Brandon goes out on a limb and picks the Philadelphia Flyers in six games. Bold move, Brandon, bold move. The staff also tackles who we expect to be the leading scorer, unsung hero and other fun stuff.

The Blackhawks road to the Cup and the Flyers’ journey: Taking a look at what it took for each team to get to this point.

The Conn Smythe favorites: A detailed analysis of the odds-on favorites for what I think should be hockey’s most coveted trophy. Would you rather be the MVP of the playoffs or the regular season? No contest, I say.

Which players have the most to gain and lose – Hossa and some of the older players have the most to lose in this year’s finals.

What this series means to each team – It might be now or never for both teams, believe it or not.

Byfuglien vs. Pronger – A breakdown of one of the most compelling matchups in the series.

Four odd predictions for the finals: Mr. Worley continues his “bold” streak by making some strange predictions about what will happen between the Flyers and Blackhawks.

More great Stanley Cup finals coverage after the jump.

These aren’t “the Flyers redux” and a look at the Flyers’ fate since they won that ’75 Cup: It’s been a long time since the Flyers won the Cup and hockey’s come a long way since the days of the Broadstreet Bullies. We provide a little history lesson with these two posts. (I also compared the current Flyers to the Bullies.)

Chicago Blackhawks since ’61 Cup and how the current Hawks team compares to the ’61 squadSpeaking of history lessons (and long droughts), here’s a timeline of the franchise since they won a Cup almost 50 years ago. It’s not pretty.

Will Marian Hossa finally win a Cup? – Why he could (or might not) raise the Cup over his head after two years of finals heartache.

Which team has the better pre-game ritual? – I might have to go with the Philadelphia Flyers on this one. Really, though, the more important debate is Philly cheese steak vs. deep dish pizza. That’s a tough one, folks.

Comparing Mike Richards to Bobby Clarke – At first, it seemed like the comparisons between the two Philly captains was hogwash. But after looking at the playoff stats, I’ve come around to the parallel … even from a stats standpoint.

Michael Leighton’s journey back to Chicago – It’s pretty difficult to believe that the Blackhawks had Leighton and Craig Anderson on their minor league team at one point. Leighton took a strange path to become the Flyers’ No. 1 starter, as Brandon chronicles in this post.

Chicago’s salary cap future – Why the team will probably look very different next year.

Looking back at the Pronger trade – The Flyers won the trade in the short term … but what will the future hold for the blockbuster draft-day move.

Same story, different location? Isles foil flat Flyers

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NEW YORK (AP) The New York Islanders distaste for the Philadelphia Flyers clearly came with them during their move to Brooklyn. Seeing their nemesis Wednesday night brought out some needed emotion.

“We needed a good, hard, physical game like that,” Casey Cizikas said after the Islanders beat the Flyers 3-1 in a rough-and-tumble affair.

“Those games are fun. When they get testy like that, when they get physical like that, that’s what makes the game of hockey so much fun. I think we thrived off of that.”

Jaroslav Halak made 17 saves and Kyle Okposo put the Islanders ahead early in the second period. Cizikas and Frans Nielsen also scored and the Islanders improved to 11-8-3 by snapping a two-game losing streak.

Steve Mason made 33 saves and Claude Giroux scored the Flyers’ lone goal.

Philadelphia has lost four of five and fell to 7-10-5.

“We’re just inconsistent. It’s the same story every game. We need to find a way to be consistent the whole game,” Giroux said. “I’m not too sure what to say. It’s the same story every game.”

The first of five meetings this season between Philadelphia and New York was a chippy one. There were post-whistle scrums seemingly after every whistle, and tempers boiled over in the second period when Nick Leddy fought Giroux.

Leddy had earned the Flyers’ ire in the first period after boarding Michael Raffl face first into the boards, but Giroux said his rationale for fighting was only partially inspired by wanting to get even for his teammate.

“The second period we were flat,” Giroux said. “Anytime you have a chance to change the momentum, you do it.”

Seven minutes after the Leddy-Giroux fight, Matt Martin squared off with Wayne Simmonds.

According to hockeyfights.com, New York had three fights this season prior to Wednesday night, and the Flyers had eight.

“It was two teams battling hard,” John Tavares said. “We’re going to have a lot of those games coming up.”

New York took a 2-1 lead 5:14 into the second period on Okposo’s fifth of the season. Tavares won an offensive-zone faceoff to begin the sequence, and Okposo gained possession of the puck along the wall, then curled toward the net before flipping a harmless-looking shot that appeared to ricochet off Nick Schultz and over Mason.

“There’s no room for error,” said Mason, adding that the puck “bounced off the side of the net” for the game-winning goal.

The teams traded goals in the first period and the long-time rivals went into the first intermission tied 1-1. Giroux opened the scoring with a power-play goal from the left circle 3:59 into the game, but Cizikas tied it with a short-handed goal with 58 seconds left in the period. It New York’s third short-handed tally this season.

New York’s penalty kill came into the game ranked 11th in the NHL, while Philadelphia’s power play was 24th.

“We have to look at everything,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said when asked if his team’s scheme needed to be modified in order to generate more offense. “(We) try to do that every day. So we have to look at everything.”

The Islanders outshot Philadelphia 36-18. New York had a 65-48 advantage in total shots.

“It was one of our better games defensively,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. “We didn’t give them too much.”

NOTES: This game marked Colin McDonald’s season debut. The Flyers called up the ex-Islander from AHL Lehigh Valley on Tuesday. He had played in four games this season with the Phantoms, where he had two assists. … Philadelphia scratched Vincent Lecavalier, Evgeny Medvedev and Sam Gagner. Lecavalier has been scratched the last six games. The 35-year-old is in the third year of a five-year, $22.5 million contract. He has one assist in seven games this season. … New York scratched Adam Pelech and Taylor Beck. … The teams came into the match having split the last 16 matches. The Islanders were 8-8-0 while the Flyers were 8-3-5. … The announced attendance was 13,027.

Vatrano presence: Bruins edge Red Wings in overtime

Frank Vatrano David Krejci

The Boston Bruins keep flipping the script.

In Wednesday’s case, it swerved to a “Cinderella” story, as little-known forward Frank Vatrano scored two of Boston’s three goals – including the overtime clincher – as the B’s beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 (OT).

Here’s his first goal of the night:

While this is his overtime game-winner:

It wasn’t a perfect night for the 21-year-old, yet it may have been a convincing one.

The Bruins continue to begin a month on a sour note before ending up with impressive sprees.

October: 0-3-0 start, finished month with four straight wins and victories in six of seven contests.

November: 0-3-0 start, losses in four of five; currently on a four-game winning strek with victories in five of six.

Boston faces a challenge in closing this month out against the Rangers on Friday, and it’s possible that this trend may continue, as they begin December with a three-game road trip through Western Canada.

More than anything else, the safest bet with the Bruins is for ups and downs.

Crosby roars, Malkin scores in OT for Penguins win

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Controversy just seems to find the Pittsburgh Penguins. Credit Sidney Crosby & Co. for responding with a win on Wednesday.

Crosby generated two pretty goals, including this slam-dunk slapper:

… While Evgeni Malkin‘s overtime-winner stood as the Penguins managed a 4-3 overtime win against the St. Louis Blues tonight.

(You can see Malkin’s OT-clincher in the video above this post.)

Will this win and strong performance from Crosby silence murmurs about his relationship with Mario Lemieux? Probably not, yet it likely turns the volume down in some ways, including killing the “Is he struggling because of distractions” storyline.

You know, at least for a little while. Maybe.

Fight video: Claude Giroux vs. Nick Leddy


Claude Giroux isn’t the nastiest, most physical captain the Philadelphia Flyers have employed. Even so, he can be feisty at times.

Wednesday showed that, as he clearly wasn’t happy with an earlier Nick Leddy hit, and eventually got the New York Islanders defenseman to drop his gloves.

You can see the fight and the check that inspired that scrap in the video above.

It’s the fourth fight Giroux has been a part of, with his most recent adversary being may his most bitter rival.

Not a heavyweight bout between Giroux and Leddy, mind you, but sometimes it’s amusing to soak in such a rare sight.

Update: The fight may have inspired the Islanders more than the Flyers, as they bested Philly 3-1 on Wednesday.