Question of the day: Who will win the Stanley Cup and in how many games? [Updated]
Four reporters from the Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses, and feel free to leave a comment of your own.
Helene Elliott, Los Angeles Times
Remember this name: Dustin Byfuglien (pronounced BUFF-lin). If the Blackhawks’ beefy power forward can be as effective as he was throughout their Western Conference final sweep of the Sharks, the Stanley Cup will reside in Chicago for the first time since 1961.
Remember this name: Chris Pronger. Though the Flyer defenseman isn’t as mean as he used to be — he was suspended twice during the Ducks’ 2007 Cup run but hasn’t run afoul of the NHL in more than two years — he’s still menacing and might be the only man strong enough to budge Byfuglien away from the net. That could stop Chicago’s top line of Byfuglien, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews or create chances for Kane and the magnificent Toews.
The Hawks have an edge in depth but each team has a strong, mobile defense corps and enormous heart. Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith lost seven teeth to a stray puck Sunday and missed only a few shifts; scrappy forward Ian Laperriere has collected more stitches than Betsy Ross’ flag as his team upset New Jersey, rallied from an 0-3 deficit against Boston and stifled Montreal. This should be physical, fast and fun.
Blackhawks in five or six.
Steve Gorten, Sun Sentinel
Don’t believe the notion that the Flyers are Cinderella.
Yes, they made the playoffs by winning a shootout on the final day of the season.
Yes, they became just the third team in NHL history to win a series after trailing 3-0 in the conference semifinals.
Yes, they’re a seven seed -- but only because the talented Flyers greatly underachieved for most of this season. They were a favorite in October, as were the Blackhawks.
Goalie Antti Niemi has erased any doubts about Chicago, and Jonathan Toews (likely Conn Smyth winner) and 257-pound wrecking ball Dustin Byfuglien (four game-winning goals) have been huge in the playoffs.
The Flyers haven’t hoisted the Cup since 1975; the Blackhawks since 1961. The longer drought ends. Blackhawks in five.
Kevin Amerman, The Morning CallSo the series will be as tight as the sides of Patrick Kane’s mullet. And the team that can best handle adversity will win. That’s why the Flyers will pull this off in seven games.
The Blackhawks have basically run the table this season and in the playoffs, never having to play an elimination game or a team as physical as the Flyers.
The Flyers, meanwhile, have played long stretches without key players and battled back from an 0-3 series deficit and a three-goal hole in Game 7 of their second-round series with Boston to win both the game and series 4-3.
That will be a source of strength when it’s time to dig down deep.
[Updated at 12:45 p.m.:
Chris Kuc, Chicago Tribune
Two teams with long droughts since their last Stanley Cup championships and two teams peaking at the right time should make for a spirited Stanley Cup finals. In the end, the men wearing the Indian head on their sweaters will circle the ice with the Cup held aloft.
The Blackhawks are the more talented team top to bottom and that will eventually overcome any momentum and talk of destiny the Flyers have gained throughout their remarkable run to the finals.
Home-ice advantage, which hasn't been very useful for the Hawks during the postseason, could be a big factor this time around as they take advantage of Chicago crowds thirsty for the team's first Stanley Cup championship since 1961. Blackhawks in six games.]
Photo: Chicago's Dustin Byfuglien. Credit: Nuccio DiNuzzo / MCT.