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2010 Stanley Cup Finals: PHT’s finals predictions

Everyone has their predictions for the Stanley Cup finals, where they try and determine which team will win and in how many games. You’ll see plenty of that tonight and especially tomorrow as we gear up for Game 1.

We here at Pro Hockey Talk decided to take things a bit further, predicting not only the winner of the series but also a number of other topics as well. Once again, I’m sure than I will get none of these right.

Best goaltender:

James: Antti Niemi - It doesn’t really matter which goalie is better, in the grand scheme of things, because the team effect will make all the difference in this one. Michael Leighton will deal with such a barrage that Niemi will look better. That’s all that really matters.

Joe: Michael Leighton - I don’t believe that Antti Niemi will be counted on to save the Blackhawks’ skin at all and while what I believe the end results will make it seem like Niemi was the star, Leighton is the guy that’s going to have to look the part, lest his team lose by five goals a night.

Brandon: Michael Leighton - I think that both goaltenders will look great, but I just have this feeling that Leighton will get more chances to show his ability. Niemi will be solid, but Leighton is going to have a lot more pucks to stop. He’s also the more athletic of the two, so while Niemi will be solid Leighton will have more “wow”.

Biggest difference-maker:

James: Chris Pronger - Not necessarily a bold opinion, but I think the gap-toothed elbow thrower can help the Flyers maintain some dignity. Will he make enough of a “difference” for them to win the series, though? Well, no ...

Joe: Dave Bolland - He may not show up on the stat sheet at all times with goals or assists but “The Dirty Rat” is the guy doing everything else out there so Kane, Toews, Sharp, and Hossa can all get free.

Brandon: Jonathan Toews - He’s been the best player in the playoffs so far and I don’t see how that changes. Despite the great depth of the Blackhawks, I doubt Chicago will have a very easy time against the Flyers unless Toews continues to play at such a high level.

Unsung hero of the Cup finals:

James: John Madden - He’s a great penalty killer but has a Mike Grier-like deficiency when it comes to cashing in on the many breakaways he creates. His lack of scoring will keep him from drawing much praise, but he can do just about everything else.

Joe: Jordan Hendry - I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “Who the heck is Jordan Hendry?” Hendry is basically Chicago’s sixth defenseman and while he’s not getting a ton of minutes (Average time on ice 8:15) or playing all that well (he’s a team low -4) he is allowing Dustin Byfuglien to both be a forward and wreak havoc on everyone else’s defensemen.

Brandon: Claude Giroux - The man has come alive in the postseason and if the Flyers have any hope of knocking off the Blackhawks he’ll have to continue being hot. He’s allowed the Flyers to use two productive and effective scoring lines in the playoffs, something this team will desperately need in the finals.

Storyline no one is talking about:

James: How about Joe Quenneville possibly breaking the great drought of Cup winning coaches with awesome mustaches? It’s been too long since Ken Hitchock represented the ‘stache.

Joe: The emergence of Claude Giroux. In the playoffs, he’s scored at a point per game pace (8 goals, 9 assists in 17 games) and has exploded on the scene as a top six forward on a team top-heavy in scoring talent. While Mike Richards, Simon Gagne and Danny Briere are going to get the headlines, Giroux is the guy flying under the radar. For the Flyers, his emergence has spurred them on to the Finals.

Brandon: How another mid-season replacement coach can win the Stanley Cup. Last year, Dan Bylsma took over the Penguins, turned the team around and took them all the way to the Stanley Cup. Now, we have Peter Laviolette, who took the Flyers after a horrible start to the season and while the Flyers barely made the playoffs, he’s given this team all of the hope and motivation it needs.

Top goalscorer:

James: Marian Hossa - For some reason, I just have a weird feeling Hossa will have a good series. Eh, I’m probably just saying this because “Jonathan Toews” or “Patrick Kane” just seems too obvious, though.

Joe: Jonathan Toews - While the wealth gets spread around pretty equally on Chicago, and I don’t see why that won’t continue, Toews is, simply put, the man and while a guy like, say, Dustin Byfuglien is going to have his hands full dealing with Chris Pronger, Toews will enjoy having the extra room to maneuver.

Brandon: Jonahan Toews - He did it against Vancouver and against the Sharks, there’s no reason to think he won’t continue to roll against the Flyers.

Most penalty minutes:

James: Dan Carcillo is my first instinct, but since he might get scratched for a game or two, why not Chris Pronger?

Joe: Chicago is really good at being physical and talking crap and Philly is equally as good at it. I’m going with a wild card here though and I’ll run with Chicago’s Adam Burish.

Brandon: I would say Dan Carcillo, but he may not get enough minutes. I’ll roll with Chris Pronger.

Predict the winner:

James: The Flyers are on fire, but look at the frail offenses they faced in the playoffs so far. Simply put, the Blackhawks are a completely different animal. Their offense is deep, their defense can do it all and Niemi is making a name for himself. That being said, my debate wasn’t “Flyers or Blackhawks?” but rather “Chicago in 4, 5 or 6?” Chicago wins it in 5.

Joe: Philly hasn’t played a team this good since they played a motivated and trying to get in the playoffs Red Wings team in early April. If I wanted to be a real jerk and disprove myself, I could say they haven’t played a team this good since they played Chicago in March, but I won’t be that guy. Chicago has been a runaway train of hockey awesomeness for the last two series and I don’t see why the 18th best team in the league is going to get in their way. Chicago wins this series in five and I don’t think it’s going to be all that close

Brandon: This is a tough one, although it seems that no one is willing to give the Flyers a chance at all with this one. I know everyone thinks the Blackhawks will just roll through the Cup Finals, but I just can’t discount the Flyers after the postseason they’ve had. So I’ll go in the other direction. Flyers stun the world, win in 6.