Monday, May 31, 2010

2010 Stanley Cup: Why Defense Is The Difference In The Stanley Cup Finals

It may sound like an odd observation to say that defense will be the difference in the Stanley Cup Finals, especially when there were 11 goals scored in Game 1. But at a closer look, defense in fact played a huge role in Game 1 – at least the top defensemen on both teams.

For the Flyers, Chris Pronger has been an MVP-caliber stud on the back end and he’s shutdown a number of No. 1 lines en route to the Stanley Cup Finals. See: Montreal Canadiens top line.

For the Blackhawks, their top pairing of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook have also being doing work, limiting their opponents best players. See: San Jose Sharks top line.

In Game 1, even in a 6-5 barn-burner, the top defensemen on both sides had an impact and they will throughout this NHL series.

The Blackhawks top line of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien finished with a combined zero points and a minus-3 rating largely in part to the presence of Pronger. Meanwhile, the Flyers top line of Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne were also held off the score sheet thanks to the Blackhawks top pairing.

So what does all this mean for Stanley Cup series betting purposes? It means that the team with the best depth will win. On paper, the Blackhawks have more depth both on offense and on defense – as evidenced in Game 1 – and that will very likely be the difference.

Game 2 goes tonight and the Blackhawks are a -190 favorite. The physical Flyers played a penalty-less game in their first outing but don’t be surprised if they land in the penalty box a little bit more tonight and end up feeling the sting of the Blackhawks power play as they fall into an 0-2 series hole.

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