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What If ... 'Hawks trump Flyers for Cup

Have your heart checked before tuning in to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, because there's going to be a lot of exciting bonus hockey played between Chicago and Philadelphia.

According to WhatIf Sports, the Blackhawks will win their first Stanley Cup title since 1961 in a thrilling six-game series in which the final three games will go to overtime, with the clincher extending into a second extra period before captain Jonathan Toews ends Chicago's Cup drought.

WhatIfSports.com is a sports simulation site dedicated to online games and analysis. Using its award-winning NHL simulation engine, WhatIf Sports simulated the Stanley Cup Final 1,001 times using the regular season and playoff statistics of the Blackhawks and Flyers.

The computer generated each team's winning percentage and average goals per game. Using the regular-season stats, Chicago came out on top in 76.6 percent of the simulations, averaging 3.6 goals per game. Philadelphia won 23.4 percent of the time with 2.7 goals per game. Using playoff stats through the conference finals, the Blackhawks' winning percentage was 69.2 and they scored 3.2 goals per game. The Flyers won 30.8 percent of the time while scoring 2.8 goals per game.

Overall, Chicago will outscore the Flyers 19-16 and all six games will be decided by two goals or less. Philadelphia's Mike Richards will lead all scorers with 5 goals in the series, and Patrick Kane will pace the Blackhawks with 4.

In a simulation run before the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, WhatIf's simulation engine predicted the Washington Capitals would defeat Chicago in the Cup Final in six games.

Game 1

Flyers 2 at Blackhawks 4 -- Chicago takes a 2-0 second period lead en route to the series-opening victory. Kane is the scoring star with 2 goals (including the game-winner) and an assist, and Patrick Sharp records 3 assists.

Kimmo Timonen and Richards scored goals, and James van Riemsdyk had 2 assists for Philadelphia. Troy Brouwer and Toews added scores for Chicago.

The Blackhawks outshot the Flyers 48-28, including a 23-5 barrage against goalie Michael Leighton (44 saves) in the second period. Antti Niemi made 26 stops.

Game 2

Flyers 3 at Blackhawks 5 -- Two goals each from Brouwer and Duncan Keith key Chicago's second win in as many games.

The Blackhawks jumped out to a 2-1 lead after the first period and maintained a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes.

Keith's second goal at 6:17 of the third period gave the Blackhawks a two-goal cushion that became vital when Richards scored with 1:03 remaining in regulation to pull the Flyers within 4-3. An empty-net goal by Andrew Ladd closed the scoring.

Scott Hartnell and Dan Carcillo also scored for the Flyers, who got 35 saves from Leighton. Niemi stopped 27 shots for Chicago.

Game 3

Blackhawks 2 at Flyers 4 -- After a scoreless first 20 minutes, the Flyers explode for three goals in the second period to reduce their series deficit to 2-1. The barrage began with the first special-teams goal of the series, a power-play score from Richards at 3:52 of the second period. Timonen and Daniel Briere expanded the lead.

Jeff Carter scored only three seconds after the opening face-off of the third period to put Philadelphia ahead 4-0. The Blackhawks received scored from John Madden and Ladd, but their comeback fell short.

Simon Gagne and Chris Pronger recorded 3 and 2 assists, respectively, for the Flyers, who were outshot 34-32. Leighton made 32 saves, and Niemi had 28.

Game 4

Blackhawks 2 at Flyers 3 (OT) -- This game had it all -- a shorthanded goal, a power-play goal, a penalty shot and, of course, overtime.

Briere beat Niemi at 14:47 of the extra period to tie the series 2-2 and make it a best-of-three affair. Midway through the third period, with the score 2-2, Niemi denied a penalty shot from Hartnell, who was tripped on a breakaway by Brian Campbell.

The teams combined for four goals in a span of 3:30 in the first 20 minutes. Flyers defenseman Matt Carle opened the scoring at 14:06 with a shorthanded score. Sharp responded with a power-play goal 53 seconds later to pull Chicago even. Both goals came with van Riemsdyk serving a roughing penalty.

Richards produced his fourth goal of the series for Philadelphia and defenseman Brent Seabrook made the score 2-2 at 17:36.

Chicago held a 48-40 advantage in shots. Leighton made 46 saves and Niemi 37.

Game 5

Flyers 1 at Blackhawks 2 (OT) -- Dustin Byfuglien scored his first goal of the series in dramatic fashion, beating Leighton (41 saves) at 9:45 of overtime, with an assist from Campbell, to put Chicago one win away from the title.

Kris Versteeg also found the score sheet for the first time in the Final, giving the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead at 17:09 of the first period. With Brent Sopel serving an interference penalty, Carter scored on the power play a 1:53 later to even the score after 20 minutes.

Niemi stopped 32 shots and snapped the four-game goal streak of Richards (2 shots).

Game 6

Blackhawks 4 at Flyers 3 (2 OT) -- Toews brings the Cup back to Chicago for the first time since 1961 by scoring his second goal of the game at 3:07 of the second overtime with assists from Campbell and Sharp.

Toews finished the clincher with 2 goals and 2 assists. They were his first goals of the series since Game 1. Linemate Kane added a pair of goals and an assist, and Niemi made 31 saves for the win.

Kane and Richards exchanged first-period goals to open the scoring. For Richards, it was the fifth game of the series in which he scored.

Fourth-liner Darroll Powe put the Flyers ahead 3-2 with the only goal of the second period. In the third, Toews (at 7:29) and Kane (10:24) put Chicago back ahead 3-2, but Powe produced his second goal with only 2:28 remaining in regulation to force overtime.

Leighton made 52 saves in a heroic effort.

Contact Rocky Bonanno at rbonanno@nhl.com

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