Much has been made of the Chicago Blackhawks‘ top line struggles during these 2010 Stanley Cup Finals. At least up until game 5, when the Hawks’ young stars and big names broke through to help give Chicago it’s most dominating game of the postseason.
But what about the Philadelphia Flyers? Captain Mike Richards, regular season MVP Chris Pronger, and key offensive weapon Jeff Carter were all big shooters all season long. And two of them have had big stretches this postseason. But what’s up with them now?
By Paul M. Banks
I guess we’ll start with El Capitan Mike Richards. Like the Mock Turtle asked in Through the Looking Glass, “where shall I begin?” And the King replied,
“Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”
I will do the same.
Center Mike Richards played all 82 games for the Flyers this season, leading Philly with 62 points. But he only has 2 points in the Finals, and an ugly -7. To his credit however, he is fourth in points overall during the entire postseason.
He will be key if the Flyers are somehow able to be win these last two and pull off the upset. But then again, no one really expected the Flyers to have a chance here anyway.
“I think it’s the media that gives us that underdog label, we’re obviously confident in our group. Somebody’s got to be underdogs in this series, and you guys labeled us,” Richards recently told the press.
“This is what you live for. This is the position that you grow up wanting to be in. It’s all about taking advantage,” said Richards about the Stanley Cup. Richards won a Gold Medal earlier this year.
Another Center who put big numbers during the regular season is Jeff Carter, who led Philly in goals scored this season. He hasn’t exactly been huge this postseason, and during the Finals series he’s -5. And like Richards, he’s accumulated only one goal, and one assist.
Which brings us to the current public enemy #1 in Chicago, the puck stealing, towel throwing Chris Pronger. The team’s regular season MVP, he led the Flyers in assists and +/- with a positive 22.
He’s a +3 for the series with 3 points, and he’s done plenty of outside the boxscore things to get under Chicago’s skin. (Or at least under the skin of Chicago’s fans) However, I still don’t see why he gets booed every time he touches the puck in Chicago.
He hasn’t been good enough to deserve it. He’s been a thorn at times, but very far from the very biggest thorn in the Blackhawks side this series. “Prongs” is a guy you’d love if he’s on your side. And he often gives quotes that conform to that tough guy image.
“That’s playoff hockey- there’s not a lot of pretty goals. It’s a lot of blood and guts in front of the net. That’s how you score,” Pronger told me.
“The high traffic areas: you got to go to there. That’s how we’re going to score, we need to get in front of Niemi, and not allow him to see the shots. Just like the same as them. There’s going to be a lot of guys buying in, blocking shots, getting in shooting lanes, and the rest of that. They do a good job with that, and so do we. So it’s going to be a good test,” Pronger said.
We’ll see who does a better job Wednesday night.