When writing the postgame story for the Chicago Blackhawks’ series
win over the San Jose Sharks, I finished the post with this statement:
wonder if the Eastern Conference team will even stand a chance.
obviously that was a bit hyperbolic, and even though the series wasn’t
over yet there was a good chance the Blackhawks would be facing the
Flyers in the Cup finals.
Do I really think the Flyers don’t stand
a chance? Not at all. Yet I do believe that this will be a test that is
much, much harder for the Flyers than they’ve had all postseason long.
No matter what the Flyers have accomplished, the Chicago Blackhawks are
completely different than and a much better team than the Montreal
Canadiens, Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils
Blackhawks have dispatched the the Vancouver Canucks and the San Jose
Sharks in ten games combined between the two series.
So you can
understand why the Flyers might be considered underdogs headed into the
Now, all of the Cup finals predictions haven’t come in
from the media horde (ours will be up tomorrow) but I doubt there will
be many predicting a Flyers win. After all, the Blackhawks are more
talented, have a deeper roster, have a better overall blueline and
despite Leighton’s great series against Montreal, Antti Niemi has been
the better goaltender. They’ve been gearing up for this moment all
season long, playing at an exceptionally high level from the very start
— goaltending issues aside — and have actually found a way to play
even better in the playoffs.
For the Flyers, it’s been a season
of extreme highs and lows, and they made the postseason relying upon a
shootout victory in the final game of the season. Since then, it’s been a
story of destiny and overcoming adversity, including a historic series
win over the Boston Bruins.
But do they have what it takes to beat
the Blackhawks, a team that is seemingly better in every category?
who do the picking and the predictions will see the stats and the
matchups and say that the Flyers have no chance. After all, there’s no
way to measure intangibles, a willingness to win and an overall refusal
to lose when their backs are against the wall.
Odds in Vegas are
considerably in favor of the Blackhawks, and if you decide to bet on the
Blackhawks straight up, you’ll only receive about $60 in return for a
Everyone is against the Flyers, a place where they’ve
been before. They didn’t have a chance against New Jersey, there was no
way they could come back against Boston and there’s no way they would
dispatch the Canadiens so easily. Yet they did, and inexplicably are
here in the Cup finals.
There will invariably be some that pick
the Flyers, but overall it’s a good bet to say they are considerable
underdogs. I’m guessing the Flyers are perfectly fine with that, and
believe this is exactly where they’d want to be.