The 4th one is the toughest: Blackhawks-Flyers, Game 6 preview

It ends tonight. No more worrying, no more nervousness, no more games at the United Center. I’m ready for the 2009-10 hockey season to be over, and so are the Blackhawks.

Most sports experts will tell us the pressure rests on the ‘Hawks tonight to close out the series in Philadelphia and avoid coming back to Chicago for an always-tense Game 7. Well, forget it. Not only are the Flyers fighting for their season tonight, Q-Stache laid out the blueprint for victory in Game 5. His line shuffling had the Flyers on their heels most of the night, and it’s up to Peter Laviolette  and Philadelphia to provide resistence to the Blackhawks new-look attack.

In Game 3, Laviolette’s last-change advantage led to Philadelphia’s OT winner as the ‘Hawks struggled to get their desired personnel on the ice. He’ll use that same advantage tonight in hopes of countering the ‘Hawks offense. Still, he needs to figure out when to put  Chris Pronger  on the ice now that  Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane  and  Dustin Byfuglien  have been split up.

The Flyers’ aggressive forecheck didn’t do much to keep the ‘Hawks at bay, especially in the first period when most of the damage was done. In Game 4, Philadelphia caused havoc in the Blackhawks’ zone with  Mike Richards  making the most notable play when he swiped the puck from  Niklas Hjalmarsson  and slipping it five-hole past  Antti Niemi.  They’ll need more of that tonight to create more offense for guys like  Scott Hartnell, Claude Giroux  and  Ville Leino  – all of whom the Blackhawks are having trouble containing.

Michael Leighton  will get the start tonight after being yanked for the second time in the series in Game 5. Niemi has been sketchy for most of the series, and the Blackhawks will need his top performance to withstand the Flyers, who are sure to come out amped in front of their home crowd.

OK, I’m done analyzing this game because my stomach is turning writing this. Bottom line, the Blackhawks have a chance to clinch their first Stanley Cup championship in 49 years.

Go get it, ‘Hawks.

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