Thursday, May 27, 2010

Who are you pulling for in the Stanley Cup?

Neither of these teams are favorites of mine. I don't particularly hate either one of them. On any given game, I might pick Chicago, but this isn't just any given game! This is the Stanley Cup Finals! I'm torn, I'm not sure who I'm going to pull for. It might be a game time decision!

I'll go through the reasons I like both teams.

The Philadelphia Flyers - From a shootout win to the Stanley Cup Finals
Of course being a goalie girl, I love a good goalie story. Philly has one! Starting goal tender for the season, Ray Emery has been a non-factor for months. Dan Boucher stepped up and played balls-out for the team.

Boucher went down with an injury and the future was looking dim. The Flyers picked up Michael Leighton on waivers from the Carolina Hurricanes. Leighton turned out to be GOLD for the Flyers. The Flyers weren't getting much healthy goalie luck this season. In mid March, Leighton went down with a high ankle sprain, fortunately Boucher was ready to step back in.

Brian Boucher is a true journeyman who has played for at least 10 different teams in his career. He started his NHL career with Philly 10 years ago. He hasn't been a starting goalie in the NHL since. The most games he's played in a season for an NHL team was in the 2002-03 season when he played 45 games for the Phoenix Coyotes. He hasn't sniffed an NHL playoff game since the 2001-02 season and he has helped his team go all the way. Boucher was ready to repeat his deep play off run with Philly when in Game 5 of the series against Boston he suffered an injury. Leighton stepped in making his first playoff appearance ever. Leighton has proven he is up to the task. He has played in 7 games and only had 1 loss, and oh yeah, three of those wins were SHUT OUTS! Can he keep it up? We shall see.

Another reason for me to pull for Philly? They have Jared Ross, the NHL's first player to be born and trained in my home state of Alabama. And, if you are wondering, yes he has played in the playoffs, three games to be exact. He has had only a few minutes, but he's been there.

I wouldn't mind Pronger lifting the cup again.

There is an ex-Thrasher factor as well. They have former Thrasher Braydon Coburn, probably most famous for the infamous Zhitnik trade.

One of the most important factors for me, Ian Laperriere. No one deserves to hoist a cup more than this man. This picture was taken the night after he took a puck to the face and lost like 8 teeth and had over a hundred stitches. He was clocked in the head with a puck during the playoffs and thought he lost his vision. This man is a warrior and warriors deserve to win!

The Chicago Blackhawks - Youth Gone Wild

The Blackhawks are a young team and a lot of fun to watch. They are the favored by most to win the Cup. With such talent, it's not hard to see why.

Captain Jonathon Toews has an amazing 26 points in the playoffs so far with 7 goals and 19 assists.

Patrick Kane doesn't have Toews numbers, nor his beard growing ability, but the mullet wearing wonder does have 20 points with 7 goals and 13 assists.

And of course there is my favorite, Dustin "Big Buff" Byfuglien. What's not to love? He's hot. He camps out in front of net making life miserable for my goalies (something I usually hate depending on the team). When he scores, he celebrates BIG! And speaking of scoring, he might only have 10 points with 8 goals and 2 assists, but FOUR of those goals were game winners!

Of course there is the Hossa factor. Lots of fans hate Marian Hossa. Pens fans hate him, Wings fans hate him and a lot of Thrashers fans hate him. As a Thrashers fan, I don't hate him. I usually wish most of my ex-Thrashers well. Plus, there is something just sad about a guy going to the finals 3 times and coming away with nothing. Maybe this third time is a charm and the Hossa curse will be broken.

And of course behind every story for me is a goalie! The season started with all eyes on Hawks goalie, Christobal Huet. Huet struggled and Antti Niemi battled for the job. Niemi ended the season with a respectable .912 SV% and a 2.25 GAA, but has really stepped up his game in the playoffs. Niemi has a .921 SV% and a 2.31 GAA in the playoffs with 2 shut outs. Questions about how well Niemi can play when he sees a ton of shots? I mean prior to the playoffs, his career high for saves in a single game was 35. No problem! In Game 1 of the Western Finals against San Jose, Niemi faced 45 shots and in Game 3, faced 46.

Did I mention Buff?

So I'm torn. I guess I'll have to wait and see who I get more upset about when they score. Who are you pulling for?



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