Stanley Cup Finals Game One Thoughts

Competing for the Stanley Cup, considered to be one of the most prized possessions in all of sports, takes endurance, speed and dedication by a team to win. On Saturday night, both the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers proved to the world they are both hungry for the Cup and played one of the most spectacular games in Finals history based on how both teams traded leads and kept tying the game.

During the first period, it was apparent both teams matched up well based off how both teams went back and forth in scoring early on. The Flyers managed to get on the board first with a goal by Ville Lieno but the lead would only last about a minute when Blackhawks forward Troy Brouwer put one past Flyers starting netminder Michael Leighton. Chicago would go up 2-1 courtesy of a goal by Dave Bolland but the Flyers would eventually tie and take the lead with goals by Scott Hartnell and Danny Briere. Briere’s goal came within the last minute of play in the first to end the period that would set the tempo for the rest of the game.

Similar to the first period, the second period saw both teams traded goals and could not figure out how to put one another away. Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp tied the game at three goals a piece but the knot would not be tied long as Blair Betts put one in the back of the net to give the Flyers a 4-3 lead a minute later. The Blackhawks tied the game again courtesy of a Kris Verteeg goal and the Blackhawks would send Flyers starting goaltender Michael Leighton to the bench when Brouwer scored the go ahead goal at the 15:18 mark of the second period.  Brian Boucher, who had not played since Game 4 against Boston, came in place of Leighton. The period would end tied 5-5 when the Flyers’s Arron Asham put one past Blackhawks netminder Antii Niemi.

In the third period, both teams played a stalemate until Tomas Kopecky snuck one past Boucher for the go-ahead goal. That is all the Blackhawks would need scoring wise in the third period to take Game One.

On paper, it would seem odd that two teams who have played well defensively during the playoffs could score 11 goals between themselves. The Flyers shut out the Canadiens three times in the Eastern Conference Finals while the Blackhawks kept a San Jose Sharks team that was loaded with talent quiet on the offensive front. Both the Flyers and the Blackhawks traded goals back and forth in this contest and both finished with 32 shots on goal.

The Blackhawks are a team that has been known to pull ahead by two or three goals in a game but tonight was obviously not one of those nights. The Blackhawks did find themselves down by a goal at one point but never managed to go up by more then one goal throughout the entire game. The Flyers simply kept coming back and managed to stay close to the Blackhawks. Chicago proved they can normally pull ahead by a couple of goals in a game but the Flyers did not allow them to do that and can stay in this series if they continue to play in this manner.

In the second period, the Flyers pulled Michael Leighton, who helped Philadelphia come from being down 3-0 against Boston earlier in the playoffs. Leighton only stopped 15 of 20 shots he faced and and pulling him in from the game is not unsual for Flyers coach Peter Laviolette. Laviolette is not afraid to change goaltenders even when the game is tied or close and pulling Leighton prevented the Blackhawks from scoring on more point-blank opportunities in the third period. Boucher, who has been an NHL journeyman, did give up the winning goal, however, he was much better in stopping the point-blank opportunities Leighton could not stop earlier in the game. Pulling Leighton may have seemed odd at the time but changed the course of the game from that point and stopped Chicago from going up by multiple goals.

Game One was fast paced and the scoring went back and forth but if the Blackhawks score first in Game Two, we could see them going up by multiple goals. The Blackhawks will want to put the Flyers on their heels early on and they will not want to go back to Philadelphia with the series tied at one game a piece. The Flyers, on the other hand, will want to score that first goal and keep the Blackhawks close to them in that game. Game One proved to be an instant classic and depending on who scores first on Monday for Game Two, we could be in for another exciting and evenly-matched game.

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~ by jeffrsabo on May 30, 2010.

One Response to “Stanley Cup Finals Game One Thoughts”

  1. All hockey fans should be loving this series even if there own teams are out of the mix. The Flyers and Blackhawks series has been some nice agressive hockey the type of smashing the boards you want to see in the Stanley Cup Finals. In fact this year has been a great one for hockey in general, with the great olympic games and now the Stanley Cup Finals! Let’s hope this same intensity continues for the rest of the series.

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