Leading up to Saturday's Game 1, Puck Daddy's Sean Leahy and Greg Wyshynski are previewing every facet of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Chicago Blackhawks - on the ice and off the ice.
When a series is lost, one of the aspects of a team's performance that's examined thoroughly is special teams.
Did they fail to capitalize with the extra skater? Did they give up too many opportunities while killing off a power play? Was the goalie relied upon too much? Those are some of the questions that will likely be asked by the Chicago or Philadelphia coaching staff when this series is over.
The Stanley Cup won't be won on special teams with the immense talent on both sides of the ice, but it could swing the momentum in a game that changes the face of the series.
One of Chicago's strengths (penalty kill) is one of Philadelphia's weaknesses, looking at the grander scheme of things. Same goes with the power play for Philadelphia, which is a strength for them. If that trend continues and special teams cancel each other out, it may take just one goal to help sway the direction of the series.
Who has the better special teams: Chicago or Philadelphia?
Now's as good as any time for the Flyers' power play unit to snap out of their 0-for-12 skid.
When you consider Chicago's ability to pop in a shorthanded goal (three this postseason), Philadelphia will have much more to worry about than just scoring with the extra man. The Flyers have scored 17 power play goals this postseason and being able to throw Mike Richards(notes), Jeff Carter(notes), Claude Giroux(notes), Danny Briere(notes), and Simon Gagne(notes) should give them somewhat of a chance to capitalize with a Blackhawk in the box.
Philadelphia's 87-percent kill rate shorthanded is just higher than Chicago's 86.6-percent rate, and good for second among teams with at least 50 opportunities. Allowing just a single power play goal against Montreal, the Flyers will need to keep their discipline in check and not fall prey to dumb penalties.
Chicago BlackhawksJonathan Toews(notes) (five goals), Patrick Sharp(notes) and Dustin Byfuglien(notes) (three goals each) have been the go-to men on the Blackhawks power play.
Byfuglien trying to grab some real estate in front of Michael Leighton's(notes) crease against Chris Pronger(notes) will be the biggest match up of the series. Byfuglien has yet to battle against someone of Pronger's size and skill, which is one reason why he's now in the Conn Smythe discussion.
Only one team hit double digits in shorthanded goals during the regular season. With 13 tallies down a man (and three in the postseason), the Blackhawks give opponents another facet of their team to guard against when a power play chance comes.
Chicago's double-pronged special team attack takes it.
Let's not be mistaken: Philadelphia can be dangerous shorthanded as long as Mike Richards is on the ice, but Chicago can put out threats such as Marian Hossa(notes), Bolland, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Sharp to force the Flyers to be wary about their puck movement.