Some thoughts from the NHL on TSN panel on Monday night:
If the Philadelphia Flyers could get one player offensively engaged and really kick it up a notch, it would have to be forward Jeff Carter.
He's a goal-scorer - that's his function on the hockey team - but he only has one goal in the Stanley Cup Final and that one goal was scored into an empty net. He has one assist and is a minus- 5 in the series but on the bright side, in each of their last two games, he's been an even player.
In fairness to Carter, he's been playing out of position on the right side with Mike Richards and Simon Gagne, but he went back to centre in the third period of Game 5, taking Claude Giroux and Arron Asham's spot.
Mike Richards is a guy who, if he's not scoring goals, will still give you a whole bunch of other qualities and intangibles. With a guy like Carter, you really think that you need him to score some goals. He's a hard guy to pick on because he's probably back too soon from a broken bone in his foot, but he's a guy that, for me, could just light a game up with his offensive ability and now's a time they could use a goal or two from him.
Everyone is talking about last year's Pittsburgh Penguins, and that's where the Flyers will draw their inspiration from. Yet, this is the team that was down to the Boston Bruins and became one of only three teams to come back from a 3-0 deficit, and one of only four teams in professional sports to do it. I don't think they have to look to last year; they just have to look at the last round.
Blackhawks centre Jonathan Toews has played well enough in the Stanley Cup Final that he can start to merit more consideration for the Conn Smythe Trophy. Coming into this series against the Flyers, I really thought that Toews was the insurmountable guy; nobody was going to get by him for the Conn Smythe. And because Blackhawks netminder Antti Niemi hasn't really stepped up in a big way, I think a lot of the voters are going to look at Toews for his performance and say, "Yeah, he's still the guy, even though he hasn't been lights-out good through the entire series."
Duncan Keith is a guy who you could make a case for winning the Conn Smythe; he's brilliant all the time. He's not racking up goals for the Blackhawks, but he is racking up points and huge minutes. He's a force offensively and defensively, and I think you could easily make a case for Keith.
And there are going to be people who will say Dustin Byfuglien's not out of the equation for the Conn Smythe either, when you think of how difficult he was to deal with against the Vancouver Canucks and scoring three game-winning goals against the San Jose Sharks. If he's a dominant force in Game 6 and the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup, there will be some who will say he's worthy of consideration.