GAME PREVIEW: STANLEY CUP FINAL GAME 3 – Flyers vs. Chicago Blackhawks

The Game: The Flyers will look to climb back into the 2010 Stanley Cup Final by winning Game Three on their home ice tonight at the Wachovia Center.

The Flyers have come oh so close in Games One and Two to being the team up 2-0 heading into this pivotal Game Three, but, they instead are the team that will need to win tonight to, for all extensive purposes, keep their season alive.  A loss tonight would be devastating and likely end the series, there’s little way to argue that.  However, a win tonight may be just what the Flyers need to get back into this series and show both themselves as well as the rest of the league that they can compete with the Blackhawks.  Expect the raging Orange Crush at the Wachovia Center tonight to be the wind on their sails as they hit the ice for a must-win contest.

The Story: It’s pretty simple at this point for the Flyers: they need to win.  And, realistically speaking, they need to win both games in Philadelphia to get back into this series.  A split most likely won’t suffice, as that would mean Chicago would hold a three games to one lead heading back to their home ice.  However, a sweep of the two games would mean that the Flyers will be all square with the Blackhawks, and the series would suddenly turn into a best of three.  Of course, there’s no way a sweep is even possible if the Flyers don’t handle business tonight.  Chicago held serve and defended (barely) their home ice in Games One and Two, and now it’s up to the Flyers to show that they can do the same in their barn.  It won’t be easy, because Chicago has loved playing on the road in these playoffs, but it certainly is do-able.  Game Three is the game that’s on everyone’s minds.  Obviously, it’s not a must-win in Chicago’s minds; as much as they are saying they want to take both games in Philadelphia, I think they’d be perfectly fine with a split.  However, for the Flyers, it’s easy: win or you’re likely done.  This team has risen up with their backs against the walls before, and I don’t see any reason why they won’t do it again tonight.  Their confidence levels are certainly high – even for a team down 0-2 – and a win tonight would likely make them skyrocket.  Let’s just hope they can harness the energy and adrenaline and play the full sixty minutes (or possibly even beyond) at their pace and style.

Who to Watch on the Blackhawks: Jonathan Toews, Center.

Quiet thusfar, a motivated Toews is never a good thing for the Flyers

It’s always nice when you can win games without any production from your “top players”.  It’s even better when a team can win games when, according to the stat sheets, your top players are actually hurting you when their on the ice.  So is the case with Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Dustin Byfuglien.  Combined, the three are heavily in the minus during this series, and they basically were non-existent in Games One and Two.  But, don’t be fooled by the lack of production, especially from the captain.  There’s a reason Toews leads all players in scoring in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and it’s been because of his play on the road.  He’s played exceptionally well in Nashville, Vancouver, and San Jose, and there’s not much of a reason to believe that he won’t be able to step up when this series shifts to Philadelphia.  Of course, he’ll have to deal with the noise and the tenacity that is the Wachovia Center, but Toews is a calm player and I don’t expect him to be rattled.  In fact, a situation like this may be just what he cherishes.  I’m not saying he’s going to go off on the point total tonight, but I do think he’ll certainly be a factor in this game.

The Skinny: The Philadelphia Flyers will be hosting their first Stanley Cup Final game since they hosted Games One and Two of the 1997 Stanley Cup Final against the Detroit Red Wings.  The Orange and Black lost both games on home ice en route to be swept by the Red Wings that year.  In fact, the last Flyers Stanley Cup Final win also came on home ice.  The Orange and Black won Game Six of their 1987 Stanley Cup Final against the Edmonton Oilers in dramatic fashion when Brian Propp and JJ Daigneault cemented their names in Flyers lore at the Spectrum to force a Game Seven at the time.  The Flyers would lose the series in the final game, but the victory in Game Six marks the last win the Flyers have had while a competitor in the final round for Lord Stanley’s Cup.

Notes: Michael Leighton will be in goal again for the Flyers, Antti Niemi in between the pipes for Chicago.  JVR practiced with Andreas Nodl this morning, likely meaning that Daniel Carcillo will still be in the line-up for the game this evening.  That could change, so stay tuned to my Twitter to see if anything happens.  Oskars Bartulis was good enough in Game Two and likely will stay in tonight in favor of Ryan Parent.  As far as Andrew Ladd’s status is concerned, ‘Hawks coach Joel Quenneville has been mum about it.  Ladd has missed the first two games of this series with an upper body injury and had been replaced in the line-up during that time by Game One hero Tomas Kopecky.  Remember, it’s an 8PM start tonight, and the doors open at 6PM if you’re going.

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