Wouldn't it be crazy if Marian Hossa dominated the series, led Chicago to The Cup and was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy? We're closer to that than you think. Chicago is up 2-0, their goalie is far from the MVP. Patrick Kane hasn't scored in 5 games. If Chicago can win two more games, then someone from the Blackhawks roster will be named Playoff MVP. Who else?
Jonathan Toews. Patrick Kane. Duncan Keith.
Jonathan Toews is the natural choice. He's the captain, he has the most playoff points(26) and has been an all around solid player. He's been kept off the score sheet in the first two games while Hossa has stood out. The problem is that Hossa only has three goals and 11 assists these playoffs and the CS Trophy is for PLAYOFF MVP, not Final Series MVP. In 07-08 with Pittsburgh, Hossa had 26 points (12+14). We're seeing flashes of that this series. Even with a quiet Final series i'd still vote for Toews as his stats blow away the competition. Patrick Kane comes in second, despite the recent scoring drought. (7G+13 A). Duncan Keith is 3rd in 'Time on ice' these playoffs, behind Chara & Pronger. TOI is a good measure of how valuable a Defenseman is to his team. Keith also has 10 assists and a goal. I would also put Byfuglien even with Hossa as far as MVP. However, both are a distant 4th to Toews, Kane & Keith.
The Game: Chicago emerges victorious in a game that had far fewer goals than game 1. With the 2-1 win, Chicago moves closer to their first cup in 49 years. Fast forward your DVR's to 17 minutes into the second period. I look at the score sheet and say to myself WTF happened at 17'07" of Period two? Hossa puts Chicago up 1-0 banging in a rebound. Assists to Troy Brouwer & Patrick Sharpe. 28 seconds later after a penalty call on Daniel Carcillo that put CHI on the pp, Ben Eager wristed a shot from the high face off circle over the glove of Michael Leighton to make it 2-0 Blackhawks. Philly would answer five minutes into period three, with a PP goal from Simone Gagne. With Patrick Sharpe in the box, the Gagne shot fluttered in as Jeff Carter provided distraction in front of the net.
Philadelphia applied the pressure, outshooting Chicago 15-4 in period three. Despite the hearty late game effort they could not get the equalizer past Niemi.
For the second straight game Chris Pronger stole the game puck at game's end. This is mental gamesmanship. Something I believe Philly needs to do more of.
Hockey evolves in the playoffs. The game changes. Penalties are called differently, styles of play change, facial hair ceases to be groomed. Good teams are able to dictate the game and favor their strengths. Philadelphia appears to be out matched skill-wise. Chicago is younger, has more stars, a better goalie, and a higher playoff seeding. In Nascar terms, Chicago 'has a faster car'. And as all good NASCAR fans know, the guy with the fastest car don't always win.
In my opinion, Philadelphia has not gotten down and dirty with Chicago. They need to do so. Games one and two have been intense, but Chicago has still been allowed to operate in their comfort zone. The first thing I notice is that players are respecting the whistle. There are few face washes or stick-work. The play is tactical, as opposed to heated and emotional. The game is clean. A clean game is bad for Philly. Philly has skilled players, but they also have a stable of goons. Carcillo, Laperriere, Pronger, Asham, Hartnell. The more muddy the game gets, the better chance The Flyers have.
Chris Pronger understands this and hence he steals the game puck and shoots it at Ben Eager after the end of game 2. He wants Chicago angry and unfocused, beause a level-headed, focused Chicago team is too good for Philly to overcome. Don't hate the Game, Philly; CHANGE The Game.
Game Three is Wednesday, June 2nd, 8pm at The Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, on Versus.