As you can see, Patrick Kane went with the playoff Mullet.  I'm going with the Labatt Blue Light tonight.  Kane is doing it for luck.  I feel lucky to be watching a great physical matchup.  Throughout the game I will try to hi-lite the physical play, including hits, fights, and corner play.  I'll also hand out kudos for good hardworking plays.  You'll see replays of all the goals, but you might not see replays of the contributing efforts that add up to those goals.

GAME ONE: United Center, Chicago, IL: Chicago Blackhawks vs Philadelphia Flyers

Period One...  LET'S GET IT ON!

Great First period of hockey.  Ben Eager of Chicago takes the first penalty as he breaks his stick over Aaron Ashams back. 5 min in,  Duncan Keith levels Briere into the end boards after a Briere snap shot.  6min, Byfuglien bumps goalie after a nice physical battle with Pronger in front of net.  Pronger lets him know that's not ok. 

GOAL 1-0 PHI. Scott Hartnell looks like he scores, but it really goes off a CHI D-man.  #22 for PHI should get credit.  Credit to Briere & Pronger for a strong 'keep-in' at the blue-line.  Play started with a Brian Campbell giveaway off a forced pass to the middle.

GOAL 1-1 Troy Brouwer with a1-timer off a pretty pass from Hossa.  Hossa is dominating puck posession in the offensive zone.  He's playing like he's been here before.  Oh wait, he has!, three times in a row.

Scuffle! Kris Versteeg & Kimo Timmonen with a little meet & greet after the whistle.  Patrick Kane takes a slash 10 min in.  Mike Richards feeds Kimo Timmonen with a nice pass, KT misses the re-direct.

GOAL 2-1 CHI. Dave Bolland breakaway goal; Shorty! Braydon Coburn coughs it up at the blue line & Bolland walks in all alone & finishes 5-hole on Boucher. 

Brian Campbell, remember him? Gets blamed for a high-stick at 16 min in.  Chris Pronger blast, PING! It's a pin-ball machine! Who's got another quarter? Scott Hartnell does! He presses the flipper button on the pinball machine & bangs it in, 2-2 game.

GOAL, 3-2 Flyers. Danny Briere takes the initial shot which is blocked & picks up his own rebound & puts it up top where momma hides the cookies.

This game reminds me of when you see a men's league team of 40 year old guys playing against a group of college kids.  The old dudes play solid D and have perfect passing, while counting on the younger guys to take emotional penalties and give up chances by over-pursuing.  Chicago has more talent, but Philly is playing the role of the 40 yr old mens league team and capitalizing on every Chicago error.

Observation: Marian Hossa & Chris Pronger are a step ahead of everyone.  Excellent team period by Philly.

Prediction.  This game will not have 5 goals in each of the remaining 2 periods.

Period 2: Terrible goaltending 101

1 min in. GOAL. Patrick Sharpe skates in & picks the top near corner on Leighton. 3-3 game.  Goal was allowed by a failed pinch by Pronger at his own blue line. 

HIT! Byfuglien blasts Carle behind Philly net.  SAVE by Niemi, point blank on Scott Hartnell off a nice Brier pass from behind net.  Adam Burrish takes a bad hit from behind penalty on a Philly D-Man.  Chicago D-man, Brent Seabrooke takes a stick to the face from Mike Richards. POW, right in the kisser! no call.

GOAL Blair Betts on a 3rd /4th lin shift.  Aaron asham wins a forecheck battle, allowing Betts to walk in and slap it far post.  I think the goalies are wearing blindfolds. 4-3 PHI. ...another GOAL. Kris Versteeg bangs home a rebound. 4-4 tie.

HIT! Mike Richards blows up a Chicago puck carrier at the blue line.  That is becoming his trademark. Dave Bolland trips Mike Richards off the faceoff, no call. 15 min in, GOAL Chicago.  Troy Brouwer off a beauty of a pass from Marian Hossa.  This is why you sign Hossa, for these passes.  Hossa is behind the net, Brouwer walks in quietly while all PHI players focus on #81 in red (Hossa). Philly goaltender is pulled by Coach Peter Laviolette.  Brian Boucher enters for Philly.

GOAL! PHILLY... Marian Hossa controls the puck in the offensive zone for Chicago.  Danny Briere intercepts a pass attempt and snakes his way thru the neutral zone.  After losing the puck, Briere regains it & passes cross ice to Aaron Asham who absolutely blasts a one-timer short sode from the high slot past Antti Niemi.

This is like a grown-up version of the Buffalo vs Boston series.  One team (Chicago/BFLO) thinks that it SHOULD win because of it's ofensive talent.  While the other team is doing what it NEEDS to do to win. (Philly/Boston).  It is an insult to the players to compare this game to the BUF/BOS series, but I gotta get my Buffalo comments in.

Decent beer commercials, Terrible goaltending.

Period Three: Slightly better goaltending.

Right off the bat, Simon Gagne drops the ball & fails to cover Dave Bolland.  Bolland takes a pass & is stoned by Boucher, 15 seconds in.  Boucher is making saves that Leighton was not.

GOAL Chicago. Thomas Kopecky.  Brent Seabrooke keeps it in even though he fell down at his own blue line.  Kopecky controls the puck to the outside as he drives towards net.  Brian Boucher gets overzealous & out of position.  Kopecky slides it into the slim angle necessary to enter the net.  Mike Richards is trying so hard & his goalie is giving the game away.  So he shatters his stick over the cross-bar.  I wish I could break things at work when I get frustrated.

Antti Niemi loses his mask twice in the 3rd period.  Philly is turning to physical tactics to try & make CHI take a dumb retaliation penalty.  Chicago isn't taking the bait.  Both sides seem very calm & non-reactive.  Danny Briere narrowly misses a turn-around shot in the low slot, as it slides harmlessly past the red pole into the corner.  I am waiting for the obligatory late penalty against Chicago to give Philly a chance to tie.  The Blackhawks remain disciplined for the most part and the refs keep the whistles away.

CHicago Defenseman, Dave Bolland Absolutely Axes the stick out of #17 Jeff Carter's hand after the whistle.  That is a regular season penalty; not here in Game 1.  Carter acts as if nothing happened.  This game is too important to react to things like that.  Danny Briere disposesses Patrick Kane to regain the puck.  Briere is playing a solid all-around game. 

Danny Briere takes each slap shot like it is his last.  I love his effort.  It is a shame that one team had to lose this game.  It is also a shame that the goaltending was so poor.  I can't ignore how bad the goaltending was.  At least it was equally bad for both sides.

See you monday.

1-0 Hawks.