After two title series games in South Philly, the Flyers have shown they can take some brutal hits and late adversity to defeat the Hawks.
Both these conclusions were not evident before the puck was dropped at the United Center last Saturday night.
Summarizing what each of these fine teams bring to the championship table now that the Flyers have tied the series 2-2 is clearer than ever. Chicago is very young, fast and physically tough. Philadelphia is fairly young, just as fast, and mentally tougher.
That last attribute could be the trigger to the Flyers' first Cup in 35 years.
The street smart Flyers get their direction from super defenseman Chris Pronger. All Pronger has done is totally buffalo Chicago bullrusher Dustin Byfuglien, who had been an offensive powerhouse entering the Final. The duel in front of the net between these two stars has been mezmerizing to watch. Pronger has gotten the better of his foe, but then again, he usually gets the better of anyone who stalks the crease.
This former champion is a master of getting away with hockey murder by tweaking, taunting, and tickling opposing players and crowds.
It's a true intangible, and it could be the edge so many teams say they look for when entering a championship game or series.
The other end of the Flyers brainy approach comes from head coach Peter Laviollette. As many of his players have acknowleged, Laviolette has a system worth following, as well as a knack for adapting on the fly. The in-game changes Laviolette makes, whether it's shuffling lines or calling timely time outs, always seem to make sense.
Blackhawks skipper Joel Quenneville is just as saavy as Laviolette, so that aspect of the matchup cancels out. So, give the craftiness edge to Philadelphia since the Hawks have no equal for Pronger. It's no accident that the Flyers have avoided a lot of stupid penalties against Chicago. That's using your head.
Do the Blackhawks have better raw talent than the Flyers? Possibly. But it's not just talent that ferries a team all the way through a playoff run to the title.
It takes street smarts. Broad Street smarts.
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