Flyers

Pivotal Matchups 10 things to watch for in the Finals - by The Inquirer's Sam Carchidi

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<h4>Flyers scoring line of Mike Richards, top, Simon Gagne, and Jeff Carter vs. Blackhawks checking line of Andrew Ladd, Dave Bolland, and Kris Versteeg</h4><br /><br><br />The Flyers need their top line to continue to set the scoring pace despite the Hawks´ defensive success so far. Ladd, Bolland, and Versteeg, three speedy players, figure to see lots of time against the Richards line in Chicago, where the Hawks will get the last line change. The Flyers´ game plan is to shoot high on goalie Antti Niemi. This line will also face top defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.
<h4>Flyers winger Ian Laperriere vs. Blackhawks scorers Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane</h4><br /><br><br />Laperriere fearlessly tries to block shots with his body at every opportunity. Sharp and Kane will need to avoid wasting their chances when he is nearby. Sharp, <br />a former Flyer, may have Chicago´s hardest shot; Kane´s trademark shot is a wrister from the left circle.
<h4>Flyers defensemen Braydon Coburn (right) and Kimmo Timonen vs. the Blackhawks´ scoring line of Dustin Byfuglien, Jonathan Toews (left) and Patrick Kane.</h4><br /><br><br />If Coburn and Timonen can´t keep this line from dominating the action, the series could be a short one. Chris Pronger and Matt Carle will also see a lot of time against this dominating unit. The Flyers´  "Core Four" defensemen were outstanding in the first three rounds.
<h4>Flyers line of Ville Leino (left), Danny Briere, and Scott Hartnell vs. Blackhawks defensemen Brian Campbell and Niklas Hjalmarrson.</h4><br /><br><br />The Flyers need this line to continue its superb play and take some of the scoring pressure off the first line. Campbell and Hjalmarrson play the body and the puck well. Campbell is also an excellent skater and an offensive threat.
<h4>Flyers´ power-play line of Simon Gagne, Mike Richards, and Jeff Carter, above, vs. Blackhawks penalty killers John Madden and Dave Boland.</h4><br /><br><br />The veteran Madden uses his stick well to keep opponents off balance, so the Flyers will need to set up behind the net and in the corners to get the angles. The Flyers are 17 for 82 (20.7 percent) on the PP during the playoffs. Chicago has scored three shorthanded goals in the playoffs.
<h4>Blackhawks left winger Dustin Byfuglien vs. Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger</h4><br /><br><br />Can the Blackhawks´ massive winger "known as Big Buff " make a stand in front of the Flyers´ goal, or will the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Pronger be able to keep the crease clear of enemy snipers? Byfuglien, a 6-4, 257-pounder who has also been used as a defenseman, had three game-winning goals in the conference finals.
<h4>Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews vs. Flyers goalie Michael Leighton</h4><br /><br><br />Toews has become the Conn Smythe front-runner as he leads all playoff scorers with 26 points. He is hoping to become the second-youngest captain (22 years old) to ever lead his team to a Cup. Leighton will have to be ready for Toews´ trademark stuffer from the goal line.
<h4>Blackhawks shot-blocker extraordinaire Brent Sopel vs. Flyers sharpshooter Jeff Carter</h4><br /><br><br />Keep an eye on how often Sopel throws his body in front of a Carter howitzer. Sopel is to the Hawks what Ian Laperriere is to the Flyers: fearless. "I´ll be about 50 years old before I´m fully healed up," Sopel said. The veteran is making his first appearance in the Finals.
<h4>Blackhawks power-play unit of Dustin Byfuglien, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Kane, above, vs. Flyers penalty-killers Mike Richards and Claude Giroux</h4><br /><br><br />Giroux has been clutch during the postseason, but the Hawks´ power play moves the puck fast and is 14 for 62 (22.6 percent) in the playoffs. Richards, Giroux, Blair Betts, and Darroll Powe were relentless penalty killers in the conference finals, helping the Flyers kill 21 of 22 penalties against Montreal.<br />
<h4>Blackhawks net crashers Dustin Byfuglien, Troy Brouwer, and Andrew Ladd, above, vs. Flyers goalie Michael Leighton</h4><br /></br><br />These tough forwards will look to create distractions in front of Leighton to open some space for their respective lines. Leighton better be on his toes because the Hawks will get much more traffic out front than Montreal did in the previous round.
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