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Chris Pronger #20 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates against the Detroit Red Wings during preseason action at the Wachovia Center on September 22, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) (Bruce Bennett/2009 Getty Images)
Chris Pronger #20 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates against the Detroit Red Wings during preseason action at the Wachovia Center on September 22, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) (Bruce Bennett/2009 Getty Images)

Tale of the Tape

Blackhawks v. Flyers Add to ...

An in-depth breakdown of the 2010 Stanley Cup finalists:



Chicago

Philadelphia

Seed

2nd in Western Conference

7th in Eastern Conference

Points

112

88

Last Cup

1961

1975

Forwards



Salary: $33.8-million (U.S.) Goals: 48 in 16 games Age: 26.3 years Size: 6 foot 1, 204 pounds First line: Byfuglien-Toews-Kane Second line: Hossa-Sharp-Brouwer Third line: Ladd-Bolland-Versteeg Breakdown: Chicago's forwards are a handful: They're young, quick and not afraid to get a little dirty. The Blackhawks were the third-highest scoring team during the regular season - despite an average power play - and boast the best depth up front in the league. By putting behemoth Dustin Byfuglien on his top line, head coach Joel Quenneville has also spread out his offence, making the 'Hawks difficult to line match against.

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Salary: $34.2-million (U.S.) Goals: 48 in 17 games Age: 27.2 years Size: Six foot, 196 pounds First line: Gagné-Richards-Carter Second line: Hartnell-Brière-Leino Third line: Van Riemsdyk-Giroux-Asham Breakdown: For a team that nearly missed the playoffs, the Flyers boast impressive forward depth now that everyone's healthy. What's made Philadelphia a particularly dangerous team in the playoffs is the arrival of Claude Giroux and Ville Leino as point-a-game players, giving head coach Peter Laviolette options beyond his well-compensated Big Four of Daniel Brière, Mike Richards, Simon Gagné and Jeff Carter. What the Flyers forwards aren't is overly big, but they play that way.

Defence



Salary: $15.7-million (U.S.) Goals: Five in 16 games Age: 27.6 years Size: 6 foot 1, 201 pounds First pair: Keith-Seabrook Second pair: Campbell-Hjalmarsson Breakdown: The likely James Norris Memorial Trophy winner next month, Duncan Keith, is Chicago's go-to blueliner and will play close to 30 minutes a night in all situations in this series. Expect Philadelphia to give him as rough a ride as they can in the 'Hawks zone. Seabrook, meanwhile, brings the muscle as the only defender over 205 pounds, and will see plenty of Mike Richards and the Flyers top line. With Kim Johnsson out with a concussion, Quenneville uses a five-man rotation that includes his top four and veteran Brent Sopel.

Salary: $19.4-million (U.S.) Goals: Six in 17 games Age: 27.9 years Size: 6 foot 2, 204 pounds First pair: Carle-Pronger Second pair: Coburn-Timonen Breakdown: The Flyers' answer to Keith and Seabrook will be Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timonen, who generally play apart at even strength and together on special teams. Pronger has emerged as a Conn Smythe Trophy candidate after yet another stellar postseason, while Timonen remains one of the league's more underrated big-minute defenders despite his modest size. Laviolette rarely plays his third pairing, so Pronger, Timonen and the Flyers' two improving 25-year-olds (Matt Carle and Braydon Coburn) will be tested with virtually all of the ice time.

Goal



Salary: $6.5-million (U.S.) Save percentage: .915 Age: 30.7 years Size: 6 foot 2, 208 pounds Starter: Niemi Breakdown: Unheralded rookie Antti Niemi had all of three NHL games experience prior to this season, but easily outplayed and took over the starting duties from Cristobal Huet by midseason, and has been solid ever since. Niemi has gotten hot at the right time, too: He's 18-4-1 in his past 23 starts, with a .923 save percentage, joining the cast of unflappable Finish goalies to invade the league of late.

Salary: $2-million (U.S.) Save percentage: .926 Age: 30.4 years Size: 6 foot 2, 194 pounds Starter: Leighton Breakdown: On the fringes of making the NHL and riding the waiver wire for years, 29-year-old Michael Leighton finally found a home this season in Philadelphia, where he helped rescue the Flyers' year in the regular season. He has been nearly unbeatable since taking over for the injured Brian Boucher in Game 5 of the second round. Leighton will be tested far more against Chicago than he has to date and, with Boucher hurt, going to the backup isn't an option.

2010 Olympians

Six: Hossa, Kane, Keith, Kopecky, Seabrook, Toews

Four: Bartulis, Pronger, Richards, Timonen

How the roster was built

Draft: 10 Free agency: 8 Trade: 5

Draft: 7 Free agency: 7 Trade: 8 Waivers: 2

How they can win

The Flyers were the second-most penalized team in the league during the season, and are more accustomed to an ugly style of play, but Chicago will be better served by staying disciplined and capitalizing on the power play. The Blackhawks enter as a heavy favourite, given they were a powerhouse in what was a far stronger conference, but they can't afford to lose anyone on defence or get caught up in a brawl.

Expect the Broadstreet Bullies to try and make life more miserable for Chicago than it was against more finesse teams like the Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks. The Flyers can win the series if they (a) win the goaltending battle, (b) take Keith off his game, and (c) don't spend more time in the box than the 'Hawks. Chicago's a quicker and deeper team than Philadelphia has faced to this point, and will likely outshoot and outchance the Flyers often. This is their toughest test yet.

Follow on Twitter: @mirtle

 

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