Friday, May 28, 2010

Third Time's a Charm for Hossa; Flyers outmatched

Marian Hossa has been to three straight Stanley Cup Finals with three different teams. He lost with the Pittsburgh Penguins versus the Detroit Red Wings, and he lost with the Red Wings versus the Penguins. Now, he has an unprecedented third opportunity in as many years with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Hossa acknowledged his goal in a CBSSports interview. He said he wants to touch the cup, and the opportunity is once in a lifetime. However, for him, it has been three times in a lifetime, and he hopes the third time’s a charm.

Like the two previous years, he was on a great team with all the tools to claim a championship. The only difference is the opponent. While the Philadelphia Flyers have some supreme talent and veterans like Chris Pronger and Mike Richards, they lack the true depth needed to win.

The NHL playoff grind is long and difficult, and the Blackhawks have stayed remarkably healthy for the most part. The Flyers almost missed the playoffs entirely, winning a shootout on the last game of the season to get in. The reason was many star players were injured, and they didn’t have the depth to offset the missing pieces.

In the playoffs, the back ups played well. However, they had momentum coming into the playoffs. The New Jersey Devils have a goalie with a terrible playoff history, and they were a team with scoring question marks.

The Boston Bruins scored against the Flyers, but they were older and lacked the true firepower to sustain a series. The Flyers shouldn’t have ever been down 3-0, and they lost game three with a lack of heart. The coach restored the confidence, but they still fell down 3-0 in the seventh game.

Why did they come back? The Bruins lack of firepower. Boston had 11 shots on goal in the last two periods, which allowed the tougher Flyers to control the puck. The comeback was great, but the Bruins gave the series away.

The Flyers than had back up Michael Leighton post three shutouts against the Montreal Canadiens. Regardless of the previous upsets, there was a reason the Canadeins were a No. 8 seed. They only scored 210 goals and had 566 points. Only four teams were worse – the Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Calgary Flames and, of course, the Boston Bruins, who scored the fewest goals at 196.

The Blackhawks defeated the Nashville Predators, which was a low scoring team with good defense, the Vancouver Canucks – No. 2 in points with 734 – and the San Jose Sharks – No. 4 in points with 700. The Hawks held the Sharks to seven goals in four games.

The Flyers haven’t been tested, and the injured players who have returned haven’t played in unison long enough. They have weapons, but the Hawks are quicker, and they have offensive weapons not many teams have. They can score on any line, and the defense is as active as the leading scorers.

The reason why the Flyers are over matched -- the Hawks weren’t only third in the league in scoring, but they allowed the fewest shots (2058) and the fifth fewest goals (203). The Flyers have allowed 300 more shots and 19 more goals during the season. The only way for the Hawks to lose if they beat themselves with penalties and lack of toughness.


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