The Stanley Cup Finals have gone to the home clubs up to this point and there's no reason to suspect that will change when the Flyers host Chicago for Game 6.
On Wednesday night the Philadelphia Flyers will look to rebound and force a Game 7 back at the United Center. The NHL odds opened with the Flyers 120-125 favorites, but the line has been bet down a bit. The total is 5½.
Chicago took a 3-2 series lead in Game 5 at home, scoring three first-period goals and never looking back in winning the game, 7-4. Chicago's stars showed up for this one led by rugged winger Dustin Byfuglien who had two goals and two assists.
The Blackhawk power play has come around the last couple of games going 3-for-7. In the first three games of the series the Blackhawks were 0-for-6. They will need a few more goals on the power play to put the Flyers away in this hockey series.
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In Game 5 when the Flyers fell behind, they could have easily mailed the game in and taken their chances in the next game. They did not do that. Even in the third period Philadelphia got some chances and made a game out of it. It wasn't until a late empty-net goal that the Hawks sealed it.
There was a big non-call in the third period. Winger Danny Briere got a high stick off of a face-off that was not called. It should have been a four-minute penalty. At the time the score was 5-3 for Chicago and the game could have potentially turned out differently if that was called.
Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger did not have one of his better games. He had a -5 rating and was in the penalty box where Chicago didn't take long to score. He got off his a game a little when the Chicago wingers hit him every chance they got. I expect Pronger to play a little smarter and have a better game tonight.
Michael Leighton got pulled after the first period in Game 5. He gave up three goals on 13 shots. There has been some speculation on who would be starting Game 6 back at the Wachovia Center.
Leighton has rebounded well when he has had a bad game in the playoffs. The Philly net minder has gone 8-4 in the playoffs since taking over for an injured Brian Boucher. In only three of his 12 starts has Leighton had a really bad game. The other two times that has happened Leighton ended up having a strong game the next time out.
After losing to Montreal in Game 3 by a score of 5-1 he came back the next game and shut out the Habs by a 3-0 score. In Game 1 the Blackhawks won 6-5 and even though Leighton lost Game 2, it was only by a 2-1 score.
On Tuesday the Flyers' Gwitter page announced that Leighton would be the starter in game 6. A little later Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette came on to say, "Our goaltender has the best numbers in the playoffs; I don't think I have to announce it". A strong indication that Leighton will get the call in this very important game for the Flyers.
At home in the playoffs the Flyers have gone 9-1. They have won their last seven home games, and over their last five home games the Flyers have outscored the oppostion by a margin of 22-8.
The home team continues its dominance for the Flyers and Blackhawks. In the Stanley Cup Final all five games have been won by the home team. Dating back to the regular season matchups, the home team has won the last eight games in a row. Overall, the team with home ice has won nine of the last 10 games played in this series.
Chicago is still struggling when playing at the Wachovia Center. The Blackhawks haven't won there in their last 10 trips dating back to 1996. Overall Chicago is just 5-15 in the last 20 games against the Flyers.
Philadelphia has played well when the Flyers have had their backs against the wall, winning the last four games against Boston and erasing a 2-0 series lead for Chicago in the finals. Can't really back a 'Hawks team here in Game 6 that hasn't beaten their opponent in 10 years in this building.
Philadelphia will be the desperate team here and should get a boost playing in front of the home fans. Throw in a few adjustments from the Flyers side and it looks like we will be seeing a Game 7 back at the United Center.
Pick: Flyers -115