Capsule of the NHL Stanley Cup finals series:
No. 2 (West) CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (52-22-8) vs. No. 7 (East) PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (41-35-6).How they got here: Chicago beat No. 7 Nashville 4-2; No. 3 Vancouver 4-2; and No. 1 San Jose 4-0. Philadelphia beat No. 2 New Jersey 4-1; No. 6 Boston 4-3; and No. 8 Montreal 4-1.2009-10 series record: Philadelphia 1-0.Playoff History: Chicago leads 1-0. Last meeting: Chicago 4-0 in 1971 quarter-finals.CHICAGO: Blackhawks own longest current championship drought. They last hoisted the Stanley Cup in 1961, their third championship, and are making first appearance in finals since losing to Pittsburgh in 1992. Chicago is 0-5 in finals since previous title. ... Young captain Jonathan Toews brings 13-game point streak into the series—posting seven goals and 18 assists during that stretch. ... Converted defenceman Dustin Byfuglien has been a force up front, scoring eight goals during the post-season—including four game-winners. Byfuglien netted the winning goal in three of four games vs. San Jose. His finals matchup against defenceman Chris Pronger is a highly anticipated battle of heavyweights that should play out often in front of the crease. Byfuglien has goals in five straight games and eight in the past eight. ... Antti Niemi is proving to be up to the challenge in his first full NHL year. He has a 2.33 goals-against average and .921 save per centage in 16 playoff games. ... Veteran forward Marian Hossa will be first player to be in three straight Stanley Cup finals series with three teams. Hossa was on the losing end the past two seasons when Detroit and Pittsburgh split back-to-back title matchups. He has 24 points in 16 career post-season games vs. Flyers, going 3-0 in series with Ottawa and Pittsburgh. ... Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has coached the most post-season games (120) and earned the most playoff victories (63) without leading a team to the finals.
PHILADELPHIA: Flyers are fifth team seeded as low as seventh to reach finals. They finished 24 standings points behind the Blackhawks. ... Won only meeting this season with Blackhawks 3-2 on Pronger's goal with 2.1 seconds left on March 13. ... Michael Leighton, 6-1 with a 1.45 GAA and .948 save per centage in eight games since taking over for injured regular Brian Boucher, is the fourth goalie to advance to the finals after beginning the season with another team (Carolina). Leighton led the way in the East finals, posting three shutouts in the series. He was drafted by Chicago in 1999 and spent four seasons with the organization. ... Claude Giroux had three goals, six points, and plus-7 rating in East finals. ... Peter Laviolette, who replaced the fired John Stevens on Dec. 4, is the eighth coach to reach the Stanley Cup finals after taking over during the season. Dan Bylsma did it last season and captured the Cup with Pittsburgh. ... The Flyers, who endured a season full of injuries, are healthy following the return of forwards Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne and Ian Laperriere. Laperriere is in the finals for the first time after 1,144 NHL regular-season and playoff games over 16 seasons. ... The Flyers are the third consecutive visiting team in the Winter Classic to reach the finals. ... Pronger is in finals for third time in five years with third team. Was champion with Anaheim in 2007 after being runner-up in 2006 with Edmonton. ... Philadelphia is in championship round for first time since 1997, just three years after having NHL's worst record. Flyers are 0-5 in finals since winning only Cup titles in 1974 and 1975.
OUTLOOK: Philly momentum carries through one more time. Flyers in 6.