Tuesday, June 1, 2010
By Brett Ballantini
PHILADELPHIA No matter how you try to slice and dice the Chicago Blackhawks, it comes up a loss.
In Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Philadelphia Flyers tried to run and gun with the Hawks, and fell short in a 6-5 shootout. In Game 2, the tempo remained high, per Flyers desires, but the game started as an all-out slugfest and Philadelphia came out on the hind end of another one-puck loss, 2-1.
Like the San Jose Sharks found out before them, the Flyers are starting to get the sense that short of poisoning the pregame platter of sammiches, theres no way to upend Chicago.
Not so fast. Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger, whose most memorable move of the Chicago leg of the Finals was to create an unnecessary and silly distraction for his team by picking up pucks and throwing them in the trash at games end, claims that Philadelphia learned a lot in Games 1 and 2. Of course, the gangly veteran made a similarly elusive, hush-hush, on the QT comment before the series about how hed handle Dustin Byfuglien, so the big fella might just be bluffing.
Meanwhile, theres little bluff in the Blackhawks game. They might not necessarily be able to account for exactly how theyve won nine straight, as center John Madden laughingly admitted on Tuesday, but they are finding ways to win.
Theres a lot that has gone Philadelphias way so far in the series, including an overall lead in shots and hits. But for Flyers fans going gaga over their heroes high-octane third period in Game 2, check yourselves. First of all, the club wasnt able to push in a tying goal, much less a winning one, despite a 15-4 shots advantage and Chicago clearly panic napping its way to the final horn. Second, consider that everyone and their sisters know the odds against a lower-seeded team rallying to win the Stanley Cup after dropping the first two games on the road (in case youve been under a rock, welcome back, and its just six percent); the Flyers were playing for the series on Monday and couldnt break through with an absolutely necessary win in Game 2.
Is the Finals undoubtedly over? Of course not. In fact, you have to like the odds of Philly riding the emotion of its return home and taking Game 3thus fueling a million and one I told you sos, Flyers comeback tales and Chicago choke sidebars. Listen, a Game 3 win for the Flyersif it even happensis just one game. The chances of taking four of five from the Blackhawks is somewhere in the vicinity of nil.
For now, the most memorable Flyers play of the Stanley Cup is Dan Carcillo plowing over Jeff Carter on Monday, then catching a little what-for from gangly banger Tomas Kopecky. That conversation shifted to the team benches, where a number of Flyers barked at Blackhawks and the Hawks fired right back. You wonder at what point Peter Laviolette steps in and suggests that, indeed, his Flyers ought to be barking a bit at one another and finding a way to send the series home deadlocked.
Well, too late now. Its been fun, Philly. But the Flyers had a chance to set the tone of the series with a game like Mondays from the outset, but chose instead to try to run with the fast dogs. It failedbarelybut hey, once the game is in the W column for Chicago, it stays there. Regathered with renewed aggression and determination in Game 2, Philly failedbarelybut hey, 2-0 is 2-0.
Close only counts when you spin Stanley Cup yarns for your grandchildren.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com'sBlackhawks Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter forup-to-the-minute Hawks information.