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Blackhawks and Flyers prepare for the Stanley Cup Finals

By Colleen Boyle


Not many people predicted the Blackhawks would win four straight against San Jose. The top two teams of the Western Conference were all that was left after two rounds of playoff hockey.

The Eastern Conference came down to a match up between the 7th place Philadelphia Flyers and the 8th place Montreal Canadiens, giving the Chicago Blackhawks a guarantee for home ice advantage in their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance since 1992.

The Philadelphia Flyers were able to eliminate the Habs in a five game series and have made a fairytale out of their postseason. They will face Chicago in the cup finals starting Saturday May 29th.

The two teams faced one another in one game during the regular season on March 13th. With Christobal Huet in net, Philadelphia scored in the last three seconds of the third period when both teams were tied at two.

In front of the Philadelphia Flyers defense was Michael Leighton who was claimed off waivers in December from the Carolina Hurricanes. The acquisition became the turning point for the Flyers whose playoff hopes would depend on Leighton after starting goalie Ray Emery and back-up Brian Boucher were injured.

While Emery was on the injured list, Leighton became the back up goaltender for Boucher; subsequently, Boucher suffered an injury six days later. Emery's injury put him out of question to play again all season, but Boucher would become a hero in the last regular season game, winning in a shootout and securing a spot in the playoffs.

Leighton was once again called upon in the Semi-finals when Boucher was injured in game five. Now in preparation for the Stanley Cup Finals, Boucher was back on ice for a full practice. It remains unknown who will start as the Flyer's goalie in the finals.

The Chicago Blackhawks open the series at home and will have no doubts in the area of a starting goaltender. Rookie Antti Niemi has helped the Blackhawks go to the Stanley Cup finals in his first playoff post season in the NHL.

Probably the biggest improvement on the team since the regular season is in Dustin Byfuglien. Byfuglien who had 17 goals in 82 regular season games now leads the post-season in goals with a total of eight goals in 16 games.

After Byfuglien, the leaders in goals scored are Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, and Captain Jonathan Toews with seven goals each. Of those three players, Toews has an impressive 19 assists in 16 games and a 13 game point streak that has established a new franchise record.

Both teams made it to the Stanley Cup Finals with a lot of depth and talent but only one will hoist the cup.


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