The Final Four On Ice

By Gary Norris Gray, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: May 17, 2010

CALIFORNIA (BASN) — Now America will see the best hockey of the year during the next two weeks with two of the Original Six teams — Chicago Blackhawks (West) and Montreal Canadiens (East)

The Philadelphia Flyers came from the first group of NHL expansion teams in 1967-68, which included the west coast with the California Golden Seals in Oakland and the Los Angeles Kings in California.

The San Jose Sharks are a part of the NHL’s most recent (1991-94) expansion group, and the last. They’ve been the most productive of the group, entering the playoffs in 15 of 18 years of their young existence and in the conference finals for the second time in club history.

So each generation of teams in the NHL will be represented except the WHA expansion in 1979-80 in this year’s Stanley Cup, which produced a dynasty in the Edmonton Oilers as well as other Stanley Cup titles in Colorado (nee Quebec Nordiques) and Carolina (nee Hartford Whalers).

This may be the first time that has happened in the Conference Finals.

Players to watch in the Western finals

San Jose Sharks

RW- Joe Pavelski #8, D- Rob Blake # 4, D-Dan Boyle # 22, LW-Ryan Clowe #29, LW- Dany Heatley #15, RW-Devin Setoguchi#16, C-Patrick Marleau#12, C-Joe Thornton#19, and Goalie Evgeni Nabokov#20

Remember San Jose‘s second line could be more explosive then their number one line. This could be the key to the Sharks success or failure moving into the final round.

Chicago Blackhawks

RW-Dustin Byfuglien #33, C-Jonathan Toews #19, C- Colin Fraser#46, RW- Marian Hossa #81, C- John Madden # 11, LW- Patrick Sharp #10 RW Super Brat-Patrick Kane #88 and Goalie Antii Niemi #31

The Blackhawks’ assignment will be to protect their young goalie Niemi and score first. This series is so close to call. Both teams have great speed both teams have decent defenses and both teams are hungry to win the cup. Should be the Blackhawks in seven even though the Sharks have home ice advantage.

Sharks goalie Nabokov continues to be hot and cold, never know which person will enter the nets, while Chicago‘s Niemi is young and untested in Conference play. One thing that San Jose has done is killed the hockey dragon, the Detroit Red Wings.

San Jose has to contain the Byfuglien/Kane/Toews line. The Sharks love to play in the tank with that loud crowd. While the Blackhawks have to bottle up the Joe Thornton line with their interchangeable wingers Pavelski, and Setoguchi, on the right with Clowe, and Heatley, on the left. Chicago loves to play on the road.

Many hockey fans can not wait to hear the famous opening in Game Three at Chicago.This will be very interesting and competitive series.

Players to watch in the Eastern finals

Montreal Canadiens LW- Michael Cammalleri #13, RW- Brain Gionta #21, C- Scott Gomez #91, RW- Georges Laraque #17, D-Rookie P.K.

Subban #76 Goalie Jaroslav Halak #41 The Canadiens’ goal will be to stay away from big front line and hard checks of Flyers. The last team to enter the final four Friday night was the Philadelphia Flyers on a third period goal by Simon Gagne over the Boston Bruins.

Philadelphia Flyers C- Mike Richards # 18 D- Chris Pronger #20 LW- Simon Gagne # 12 C- Jeff Carter # 17 RW- Danny Briere #48 Goalie Michael Leighton #49.

The Flyers need to stay awake the whole 60 minutes. something Philadelphia has not done consistently this year. Montreal will test Philly in second and third periods every game with their team speed.

Montreal with their speed and defense may not be enough to beat the Flyers, Philly in six. The orange and black could be called the MASH unit on ice, with so many injuries. Three questions should be answered in this match up. Can the Canadiens lock down Gagne and can the Flyers stop Cammillari?

Will the Flyer defense still crash the nets?

Can Danny Briere — who seems to have a fire re-lit under his ass — be the not-so-secret offensive weapon the Flyers wanted when they signed him away from the Buffalo Sabres a few years ago?.

The skills of rookie defensemen P.K. Subban will finally be shown to the nation and he should be in the league for many years.

The Flyers sometimes lapse into a defensive coma which cause trouble for their goalie and missing their assignments covering their man. Philly also have tendencies to play nasty, hitting anything that moves leading to foolish penalties.

This will not be a very smart tactic against the quick Canadiens. Philadelphia has to stay out of penalty box to win this series; the Philly power play has to keep Montreal off the scoreboard too.

Goal Brothers

Watch the three Black players on the ice, Dustin Byfuglien, can’t miss his number 33 banging Sharks off the boards his nickname Big Buff explains everything. He can spark the Hawks every period with his energy and speed on the ice.

The speed demon for the Montreal Canadiens Georges Laraque will be buzzing around the net all night and Rookie P.K. Subban will play solid defense and will impress the rest of the league.

So it’s old school Chicago and Montreal vs. The New Kids on the Block Philadelphia and San Jose in the 2010 Stanley Cup Conference Final

Sunday’s openers

The Blackhawks beat the Sharks 2-1 as The Big Buff-Dustin Byfuglien scores the winning goal with assist from Patrick Kane in the third period. Both goalies played outstanding stopping over 30 shots each and both teams played good hard defense.

This is how this seven game series will play out.

The Flyers ran Halak out of the Canadien net in second period as Simon Gagne scores the fourth Flyer goal. Goalie Carey Price was not the answer either for the Habs as Philly scores two more goals. The Flyers defense clamped down on Cammilleri to win 6-0.

It will not be that easy for Flyers in game two.