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The Philadelphia Flyers needed a victory in their final game of the season just to make the playoffs.
The Chicago Blackhawks set a slew of franchise records and have never looked back.
On Saturday, the two teams will square off for the Stanley Cup.
Should be simple, right? One of the top teams in the league all season sweeps the top team in the West to make it to the NHL's biggest stage while the other back-doors its way into the playoffs and needed to rebound from an 0-3 hole in an earlier playoff series.
But for those of you thinking Blackhawks in a sweep, think again.
Using our award-winning NHL simulation engine, we simulated the 2010 Stanley Cup 1001 times. Using the statistical make-up of both the Blackhawks and Flyers, the computer generated each team's winning percentage and average goals per game.
2010 Stanley Cup - 1001 Simulations
|Matchup||Win%||Avg Goals||WIS Interactive|
|Philadelphia Flyers||23.4||2.7||Simulate Game|
Philadelphia's Michael Leighton has been the hottest goaltender of the postseason, but he's going to need some help in front of him if the Flyers are going to take home the Cup.
Instead, in Game 1, Patrick Kane and Chicago pick up right where they left off thanks to the barrage of shots they fire at Philly's netminder.
Leighton still stops more than 91-percent of the shots that he sees, but that's not much of a saving grace when he's peppered with 48 shots.
Kane scores on two of those blasts and Chicago takes the early series lead with a 4-2 victory.
If the first game was all about the usual suspects, Game 2 goes to those in the shadows.
No goals from Kane. None from Jonathan Toews, either. And while Leighton sees fewer shots, he gives up just as many goals.
Duncan Keith scores twice for the Blackhawks - who still have yet to trail in a Finals game - and they thwart Philly's attempt at a late comeback by adding a last-minute empty-net goal for a 5-3 win.
Philly got the piano off its back in a big way.
After failing to lead a single second in the first seven periods of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Flyers score four unanswered goals in less than 20 minutes to keep the home teams undefeated, this time in a rout.
Flyers center Mike Richards, second in playoff points and assists heading into the series, gets Philadelphia on the board and veterans Chris Pronger and Simon Gagne combine for five assists in a 4-2 victory.
More importantly, Leighton settles in at home. He sees 34 more shots in Game 3, but stops all but two as the Flyers get on the board.
Shorthanded goal? Check. Power play goal? Done. Penalty shot? Yep, and in the third period of a Finals game no less.
This game had it all, but it still took an overtime to decide a winner.
The teams trade goals in the first period but seem to use up all of their offensive firepower in the first 20 minutes. Not even the Flyers' third-period penalty shot can break the deadlock as Chicago goalie Antti Niemi comes up with a huge save.
But that's not enough to keep the home teams unbeaten as Philly's Danny Briere scores late in the first overtime for a 3-2 win.
There's the goaltending we were expecting out of the two top goalies in the postseason.
And there's Dustin Byfuglien again.
Leighton and Niemi combined for 73 saves and each allow just one goal in regulation as the Finals series sees its second consecutive overtime game.
Byfuglien, who scored the game-winner in the sweep of the Sharks in the Conference Finals, comes up with another big one. The winger, who enters the Finals with eight goals, finds the back of the net midway through overtime to put the Blackhawks back on top in the series 3-2.
The postseason points leader comes up big.
Toews, undoubtedly the top player in the postseason - at least offensively - picks a fine time break out in the Finals. The 22-year-old center assists on two goals and scores two of his own, including the game-winner in the second overtime, propelling the Blackhawks to the Cup title for the first time in nearly half a century.
Toews and Kane score in the third period to give Chicago the lead, but a goal in the waning minutes forces the third overtime in as many Finals games.
If the biggest question heading into the series is how to stop Kane and Toews, Philadelphia doesn't seem to have the answer, at least in the simulations.
And while Leighton stays pretty hot, it's clear that the Flyers are going to have to limit the shots that fly his way.
Still, the series ought to be closer than most are expecting. In 1,001 simulations of the Stanley Cup finals, it's the Hawks winning more than three-quarters of the time and bringing a title back to Chicago in six games.
If you have any questions, comments or just want to talk sports, shoot us an email at BtB@whatifsports.com.
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