Blackhawks, Flyers finally play like their seedings in game 5

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So there’s been some obvious trends in this 2010 Stanley Cup Finals– the home team seems to do really well, and every game has been close. In game 5 Sunday night between the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers, the first trend held true, but the second truly did not. The #2 seeded Blackhawks (who had the third most points in the NHL this season) were heavy favorites over the #7 seeded Flyers (who finished 18th out of the 30 NHL teams in points) when this series began.

During the first four games, we didn’t see why Vegas liked Chicago so much better. Tonight we did.

By Paul M. Banks

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The Hawks won by three goals, but held a much more lopsided advantage in scoring chances. The first period was far and away the most one-sided period for any team in the Finals thus far.

The Blackhawks unleashed a blitzkrieg on Flyers goalie Michael Leighton, beating him three times in the final 7:43 of the first period. Back in Philly during game four, many hockey fans and analysts alike were proclaiming that Leighton had finally found himself, and realized his potential. Chicago sports fan alarmists were even saying “why did we let him go?”

Well that didn’t last long- as Chicago quickly found that offensive spark that has propelled them to get this far. Leighton was terribly inconsistent when he was in The Chi. And he layed an egg tonight, after having a breakout game on Friday night. Even that “bad ass” ghetto script font on the chin guard portion of the Flyers goalie mask couldn’t help Philly’s goaltending as Leighton was pulled—for the second time this series—after giving up three goals on 13 shots.

Brian Boucher didn’t fare that much better stopping 11 of the 14 shots he faced. The Chicago line change made a big difference as Patrick Kane (KANER!!!!) got his second goal of the Finals, and Dustin “Big Buf” Byfuglien finally found the net this series. And he did it with authority: scoring 2 goals, 2 assists, 9 hits on a +3 for the evening. He FINALLY won his much ballyhooed match-up with Chris Pronger, who was held to a career worst -5 on the evening.

“Yeah, I think he got rid of us and started performing,” Kaner said about Byfuglien.

“That’s all he needed.  He was a force.  He had some big hits.  The one on Pronger, I think everyone remembers, where he threw him into the boards.  Great game overall by him.  It’s good to see,” Kaner stated.

“We changed the lines last game going into the game.  Everybody had a little bit of a different look than in Game 3.  Coming out of the game, we kind of changed them again,” Hawks Coach Joel Quenneville said earlier today.don't_toews_me_bro

“But certainly we went along, we didn’t change the lineup or the lines based on winning and how we’re playing.  I think the last couple of games we’ve always gone along here maybe making some adjustments based on how we’re playing or what we like and what we don’t like,” Quenneville continued.

In the 20 previous Stanley Cup finals series tied 2-2, the club winning Game 5 has won the Stanley Cup 14 times. The six clubs that successfully overcame a Game 5 loss: the 1950 Detroit Red Wings, 1964 Toronto Maple Leafs, 1971 Montreal Canadiens, 2001 Colorado Avalanche, 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning and 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins.

There have been 40 goals scored in this series (Chicago 21, Philadelphia 19), the most through the first five games of the Stanley Cup Final since 1981 when the New York Islanders and Minnesota North Stars combined for 42 in a five-game series win for the Islanders. The five-game total this year is more than the total of any Final, of any length, since the New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks scored 40 times in the Rangers’ seven-game victory in 1994.

“Biggest thing is the start we had, whether we come out of the first period with the lead or not, we can be happy with that pressure.  We want to keep that going, especially for the next two periods and the next one,” Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews (TAZER!!!) said.

“So our pace was as high as it’s been in the series.  But we know there’s still another level we have to get to if we want to get that fourth win,” Tazer continued.

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