Since he played in the Western Conference while a member of the Detroit Red Wings for parts of two seasons, winger Ville Leino has faced the Chicago Blackhawks more than most of his Flyers teammates.

Like the rest of the hockey world, Leino is impressed with the Blackhawks' size, speed, and talent.

"They have a lot of skilled players; they're really good offensively, and they move the puck well," said Leino, who played in the Stanley Cup Finals with the Red Wings last season. "That's a really good team, and we just have to play our own game."

But he sees weaknesses the Flyers can exploit when the teams meet in the Cup Finals starting Saturday in Chicago.

The Blackhawks are the NHL's youngest team with an average age of 26.2. The Flyers - with thirtysomethings Simon Gagne, Blair Betts, Arron Asham, Danny Briere, Kimmo Timonen, Chris Pronger, and Ian Laperriere - have a lot more experience.

"I think they all turn the puck over if they try to make too many plays," Leino said of the Blackhawks. "We have to be hard on their key guys and get them a little frustrated [because] they can get a little emotional. We just have to have the solid effort we've had the last two games."

Chicago is 12-4 in the playoffs; the Flyers are 12-5.

Oddly, Chicago lost the opener at home in two of its series, dropping a 4-1 decision to Nashville and a 5-1 decision to Vancouver.

In this year's playoffs, the Blackhawks are 7-1 on the road, including seven straight wins, and 5-3 at home.

The Flyers, winners of eight of their last nine, are 7-1 at home and 5-4 on the road.

Finals blues

The Stanley Cup Finals have not been good to the Flyers and Blackhawks. Each team has lost in its last five trips to the Finals.

The Flyers last won the Cup in 1975, while Chicago last won it in 1961.

The Flyers' last five losses in the Finals: 1997 (0-4 against Detroit); 1987 (3-4 against Edmonton); 1985 (1-4 against Edmonton); 1980 (3-4 against the New York Islanders); and 1976 (0-4 against Montreal).

They are looking for their first win in a Finals game in 23 years. Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk weren't even born the last time the Flyers won a game in the Finals.

Chicago's last five losses in the Finals: 1992 (0-4 against Pittsburgh); 1973 (2-4 against Montreal); 1971 (3-4 against Montreal); 1965 (3-4 against Montreal); and 1962 (2-4 against Toronto). The Hawks haven't won a Finals game since an 8-7 triumph over Montreal in 1973.

Original Six victims

The Flyers could become the first team since Pittsburgh (1992) to consecutively beat three of the league's Original Six in the playoffs en route to a Cup title.

That Penguins team defeated the Rangers in the second round, Boston in the conference finals, and Chicago in the Finals.

This year, the Flyers defeated the Bruins in the second round and Montreal in the conference finals. Now they meet the Blackhawks, another Original Six member.

The Flyers also eliminated an Original Six team, the New York Rangers, on the last day of the regular season. Toronto and Detroit are the other original NHL teams.

Numbers Dept.

In the series against Montreal, the Flyers killed 21 of 22 penalties. Craig Berube coaches the penalty-killing units. . . . During the playoffs, Chicago's power play is 14 for 62 (22.6 percent) and it has been successful in 58 of 67 penalty-killing situations (86.6 percent). The Flyers are 17 for 82 (20.7 percent) on the power play and have killed 67 of 77 penalties. . . . Chicago has lost eight straight in Philadelphia. . . . Chicago's Jonathan Toews has scored points in a club-record 13 straight playoff games. Toews (26 points) and Mike Richards (21) have been their teams' top playoff scorers. Briere (nine) and the Blackhawks' massive Dustin Byfuglien (eight) have been the leading goal scorers. Briere and Byfuglien lead all NHL players with four game-winning goals in the playoffs.

Breakaways

Pronger and Leino are the only Flyers who have played in the Finals. . . . Rookie goalie Antti Niemi, who has started every playoff game for Chicago this year, has not faced the Flyers in his career. . . . Chicago's Marian Hossa is trying to avoid a dubious distinction - losing for the third team in the last three Finals. He was with Pittsburgh in 2008 and Detroit last year. . . . Road teams are 42-41 in this year's playoffs.

Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at 215-854-5181 or scarchidi@phillynews.com.
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