Flyers at Blackhawks, Game 5

Chris Pronger
Chris Pronger
Posted: June 06, 2010

Here's a look back at Game 4 and ahead to Game 5 between the Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks, on Sunday night at the United Center.

The Pennsylvania Plan

The Flyers are following the script written last year by their hated rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

They hope it has the same ending.

The Penguins made an in-season coaching change last year and had to huff and puff to make the playoffs.

Sound familiar?

Yep, the same path taken by this year's Flyers.

There are more similarities.

Like Penguins captain Sidney Crosby last year, Flyers captain Mike Richards scoffed at a superstition by touching the Prince of Wales Trophy, awarded to the East champs.

Like Pittsburgh, the Flyers lost the first two Finals games on the road, then evened the series with two home victories.

If the Flyers continue to imitate the Penguins (or Penguinos, as the late, great Gene Hart used to say), they will lose Game 5, then win Games 6 and 7 and capture the Cup.

Stay tuned.

Tale of two defensemen

Lost in the shuffle of Chicago's loss Friday was the brilliant play of Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith, who is showing why he is a finalist for the Norris Trophy, awarded to the league's best defenseman.

That said, it doesn't excuse the Hockey Writers' Association's stupidity for bypassing the Flyers' Chris Pronger as a finalist.

But I digress . . .

Keith had 14 shots (six on goal), three assists, four hits, two blocked shots, and three takeaways in the Blackhawks' 5-3 loss in Game 4.

For the series, he is plus-2.

Pronger is plus-7.

Enough said.

On the attack

With the series returning to the United Center Sunday night, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville wants his team to be on the offensive.

"We have to be smart, disciplined, and make them play defense," he said.

Translation: He wants the Blackhawks to be on the attack.

The series is tied at two games apiece, and each team has won both of its home games.

"We're excited to be going back home," Quenneville said. "I know the series is wide open. It's even. We get to go home. We have to take advantage of home ice. We've played well there all year. . . . I just know the momentum is an important thing for us to grab early at home."

The first 10 minutes Sunday could set the game's tone.

Special-teams report

Scott Hartnell's ill-advised unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty late in Game 4 aside, the Flyers have surprised national media members - many of whom still think of the franchise as the Broad Street Bullies - with their discipline in the first four games.

The Flyers have allowed Chicago just nine power plays in the series; the Flyers have had 16 power plays.

The Flyers are 5 for 16 (31.3 percent) on the power play, while the Hawks are 1 for 9 (11.1 percent).

During the series, the Flyers have netted at least one power-play goal in each game. Their 31.3 percent success rate is the second-highest in the Finals since 1988, when Edmonton converted on 8 of 25 power-play chances, a 32 percent clip.

Team Resilient

The Flyers have had lots of practice showing their resiliency.

They needed a shoot-out win in their season finale to qualify for the playoffs, and they overcame a 3-0 series deficit against Boston in the conference semifinals.

They have evened the Finals after losing the first two games.

"The adversity we went through at the beginning of the year kind of set ourselves up for the playoffs," Richards said. "I mean, all year it's been kind of up and down. We dug ourselves into a pretty big hole early and battled back. Dug ourselves into a hole against Boston, and fought our way back."

Richards said it was "a scenario we don't like being in" - they could have fooled us - "but a scenario that I think we're confident in our team and our ability to fight back."

They will be fighting back against a hostile crowd Sunday as they try to take the lead in a Finals for the first time since 1985, when they won the opener against Edmonton.

The Oilers then won the next four games.

- Sam Carchidi

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