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2010 Stanley Cup Finals: Will anyone pick the Flyers to win?

Image (1) Leighton-thumb-250x166-12416.jpg for post 1817

When writing the postgame story for the Chicago Blackhawks’ series win over the San Jose Sharks, I finished the post with this statement:

You wonder if the Eastern Conference team will even stand a chance.

Now, obviously that was a bit hyperbolic, and even though the series wasn’t over yet there was a good chance the Blackhawks would be facing the Flyers in the Cup finals.

Do I really think the Flyers don’t stand a chance? Not at all. Yet I do believe that this will be a test that is much, much harder for the Flyers than they’ve had all postseason long. No matter what the Flyers have accomplished, the Chicago Blackhawks are completely different than and a much better team than the Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils

Conversely, the Blackhawks have dispatched the the Vancouver Canucks and the San Jose Sharks in ten games combined between the two series.

So you can understand why the Flyers might be considered underdogs headed into the finals.

Now, all of the Cup finals predictions haven’t come in from the media horde (ours will be up tomorrow) but I doubt there will be many predicting a Flyers win. After all, the Blackhawks are more talented, have a deeper roster, have a better overall blueline and despite Leighton’s great series against Montreal, Antti Niemi has been the better goaltender. They’ve been gearing up for this moment all season long, playing at an exceptionally high level from the very start -- goaltending issues aside -- and have actually found a way to play even better in the playoffs.

For the Flyers, it’s been a season of extreme highs and lows, and they made the postseason relying upon a shootout victory in the final game of the season. Since then, it’s been a story of destiny and overcoming adversity, including a historic series win over the Boston Bruins.

But do they have what it takes to beat the Blackhawks, a team that is seemingly better in every category?

Many who do the picking and the predictions will see the stats and the matchups and say that the Flyers have no chance. After all, there’s no way to measure intangibles, a willingness to win and an overall refusal to lose when their backs are against the wall.

Odds in Vegas are considerably in favor of the Blackhawks, and if you decide to bet on the Blackhawks straight up, you’ll only receive about $60 in return for a $100 bet.

Everyone is against the Flyers, a place where they’ve been before. They didn’t have a chance against New Jersey, there was no way they could come back against Boston and there’s no way they would dispatch the Canadiens so easily. Yet they did, and inexplicably are here in the Cup finals.

There will invariably be some that pick the Flyers, but overall it’s a good bet to say they are considerable underdogs. I’m guessing the Flyers are perfectly fine with that, and believe this is exactly where they’d want to be.