After the Flyers won the Eastern Conference title with a rivetting 4-2 victory over Montreal on Monday, winning coach Peter Laviolette looked ahead to his team's ultimate goal _ bringing home its first Stanley Cup since 1975.
Asked what it would take to defeat the favored Chicago Blackhawks, Laviolette didn't blink.
"I'm always a believer if your team can play their style and their system and implement their game, you've got a good chance of winning hockey games," he said. "We'll start preparing for the Chicago Blackhawks, and we'll be ready when the puck drops.
"I know they had a great year," said Laviolette, who directed Carolina to the 2006 Cup, "....But in order for two teams to get this far, I think both teams have to be playing well, so it should be a good series."
Chicago's massive Dustin Byfuglien, a 6-foot-3, 246-pound winger, had three game-winning goals in the Hawks' Western Conference sweep of San Jose.
"He's a big guy. I'll be honest, I haven't looked too much into Chicago yet. That would be a good question for a couple days from now," Laviolette said when asked how the Flyers would contain Byfuglien "But you're right, he's a big man. The goal _ I think the goal he scored to put them in the Finals _ exemplifies what he does best, which is to get to the front of the net."
"We've got a big guy out there too, No. 20. He does a pretty good job of tying guys up in front of the net. So I'm sure they'll see a lot of each other."
Laviolette, of course, was talking about 6-6, 220-pound defenseman Chris Pronger. The Pronger-Byfuglien matchup is just one of the many great storylines of the Finals.
One of the many others: The series will bring together former Blackhawks goalie Michael Leighton and former Flyers forward Patrick Sharp. Chicago gave up on Leighton, much like the Flyers gave up on Sharp.