Flyers Fall Short as Blackhawks Win Cup

The Flyers lost to the Blackhawks last night and thus ended their amazing run at the Stanley Cup, and had to watch Chicago celebrate their Stanley Cup victory on our home ice.

Much like the rest of this postseason, the Flyers did everything they could to win this game, and left it all out on the ice; but in the end, it wasn’t enough. The Flyers were outplayed from the start of the game early, and Michael Leighton had to keep the Flyers in the game early. The end of the first period saw a 1-1 score. The Flyers got on the board first in the 2nd period, when Danny Briere continued his great postseason and roofed a shot over Niemi. However, the Blackhawks responded with 2 in the period to take a 3-2 2nd period intermission lead.

The Flyers really dominated the 3rd period, as they needed to in order to stay in the game. Finally, the Flyers were able to beat Niemi with about 4 minutes left in the game, as Scott Hartnell notched his 2nd goal of the game. Once again, the Hartnell-Briere-Leino line was easily the best line on the team, and was the most effective line of the postseason.

Once overtime started, the Flyers had the momentum and were outplaying the Blackhawks, getting most of the scoring chances at this point. However, all it takes is 1 shot on net, and Patrick Kane provided just that. On a very innocent looking play in the Flyers zone, Kane had the puck on the side, and really nowhere to go with it. He made a couple moves, got some room past Kimmo Timonen, and sent a puck towards Leighton, who was covering the post. The puck somehow snuck through Leighton, and into the net to give the Blackhawks their first Stanley Cup since 1961. It was a pretty weak goal to be honest, but that is also what great players do; they score big goals when it doesn’t look like they have anything or anywhere to go with the puck.

The Blackhawks were probably the better team, I would say overall they probably had more chances than the Flyers, especially in 5 on 5 situations, and when the game was tied. The Blackhawks seemed to come out at the start of games and really outplay the Flyers. The Flyers seemed to play their best hockey when they were down in games. That isn’t to say the Flyers didn’t play well or Chicago dominated the series, because I don’t think either of those are even close to true; it just seems like the better team overall won. Not the better team by much, but the better team nonetheless. If the Flyers had been able to steal 1 of the first 2 games in Chicago, it would have been a completely different series, and probably a different outcome. As the road team, you have to win 1 of those first 2 games.

Either way, it was a great season and everything. Even though the Flyers disappointed at points, and were very up and down, they still made it to the Stanley Cup Finals which can’t be considered a disappointment as a season. It is disappointing, and will be going forward, but the season as a whole is not a disappointment. Even before the season when the Flyers were considered one of the top teams in the East, you still would have put them behind the Penguins and Capitals in the pecking order.

We did get to see some unbelievable moments. The final regular season game win in the shootout. Beating up on the Devils handily, who routinely beat up on the Flyers the past 2 decades. Coming from 3-0 down against the Bruins – not only in the series – but also in Game 7, to advance. Watching Brian Boucher play great hockey, getting injured, and then watching Michael Leighton pick up right where Boucher left off. Whooping up on the Canadiens, while collecting 3 shutouts in the Eastern Conference Finals. And then finally hitting the wall and losing in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Flyers did their best, and managed to not fold when they got down 2-0 in the series, and make it a series at least.

Most of the team will be back next year to try to make a run at another Stanley Cup appearance. It will be much tougher next season, as we still will go into the season behind the Penguins and Capitals, as teams expected to win the Eastern Conference. Either way, it was a great season, with a disappointing end, and we can look forward to hopefully winning it all next season.


Now a Best of 3 Series

The Flyers won Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals in front of a crazy home crowd at the Wachovia Center to take even up the series at 2, and now it becomes a best of 3 series.

The Flyers jumped all over the Blackhawks in this game in the first period, and even though things got close at the end, the Flyers held off the Hawks to win the game 5-3. The Flyers got a great solo effort from Mike Richards to get on the board early in the first period. Shortly after, Matt Carle kept a Blackhawks clearing attempt in the zone and fired a puck into the open net. Carle's goal went as unassisted, but James van Riemsdyk played a big role on that play, bringing the puck around behind the net and getting it out in front. After a Blackhawks Patrick Sharp goal, Claude Giroux snuck behind the defense, and Kimmo Timonen found him with a great pass, and the Flyers took a 3-1 lead into the first intermission.

After a scoreless 2nd period, Ville Leino banked a shot off a Blackhawks defender and passed Antti Niemi and gave the Flyers a 4-1 lead halfway through the 3rd. The Blackhawks would not go away however, and scored 2 quick goals to make it 4-3, and then had plenty of good opportunities down the stretch to tie it, but Jeff Carter put the game away with an easy empty netter, and give the Flyers a 5-3 victory. Ville Leino's goal allowed him to become the all-time leading Flyers postseason scorer for a rookie passing Brian Propp.

5 different Flyers had goals, and no one had more than 1 assist either. The top line that needed to step up, ehh sort of stepped up. Richards goal was on the power play, so it was not with his linemates, and was a solo effort anyways. Carter's goal was an empty netter that hopped over Blackhawks defender Duncan Keith's stick and gave him an easy breakaway goal. The top line did play better though, and Carter, although I still don't think he had a good game, did play better than Game 3. The top line really needs to get going though, and win a game in Chicago.

The Flyers did do what they should have and replaced Daniel Carcillo with van Riemsdyk, and although van Riemsdyk made some mistakes, he also has an assist, and a great play on the Matt Carle goal. van Riemsdyk solidified his spot, and should play on the Giroux, Asham line the rest of the postseason.

Michael "Lights Out" Leighton turned the lights out on the Blackhawks, and made 31 saves in the game. Leighton played very well, and there wasn't much he could have done on any of the 3 Blackhawks goals. The first one was deflected, again off a Flyers played, as Braydon Coburn deflected the puck into the net. The 2nd one was on a 5-on-3 advantage, so it's hard to do anything on that one. And the 3rd one was kind of fluky and just a matter of the Blackhawks sending the puck towards the net, and the puck kind of rid on Timonen and Toews going towards the net and went in. Leighton really has played well, and needs to do it on the road now to steal a game.
Chris Pronger has been fantastic this Stanley Cup shutting down the first line of Kane-Towes-Byfuglien. He has the Blackhawks players all complaining about his play, and he is pushing these 3 players around, and having his way. Pronger did not have a point last night, and actually only played 28 minutes, which is less than usual for him, but he always has an impact on the game, and in this postseason, it has been a very positive impact.

Now... there is still a lot of work to do. The Flyers do have the momentum, but all that momentum might stop come Game 5 when the puck drops in front of the Chicago crowd. The series is now a best of 3 series, and the Blackhawks have 2 home games to the Flyers 1. The Flyers need to find a way to steal a game in Chicago, and it really needs to be Game 5 since the Flyers do have the momentum. The Flyers do not want to let Chicago go up 3-2, and have to win 2 in a row, with the final one being in Chicago. The Flyers really need to come out and try to win Game 5. The top line has the capability of having a big game, and stealing a game. Michael Leighton has the capability to steal a game. The team needs to step up for Game 5, and come back to Philly with a win, a 3-2 series lead, and a chance to win the Stanley Cup Finals on home ice in Game 6. Of course, that is much easier said than done.


Flyers Face Another Must Win Tonight

The Flyers play the Blackhawks tonight in a must win game 4 at the Wachovia Center tonight. The Flyers took back some momentum and should have plenty of confidence going into tonight's game.

The Flyers won an amazing game on Wednesday night 4-3 in overtime. Claude Giroux put in the game winner about 6 minutes into overtime to give the Flyers the needed win. This Flyers team, as we know, had lived on the edge a lot in this postseason, and Game 3 was no different.
The Flyers did really control most of the game, including basically all of the 3rd period. However, the Flyers still found themselves down in the 3rd period after Patrick Kane put in his first goal of the series on a breakaway. The Flyers could have really packed it in at this point, and given up. They did just the opposite. The Flyers scored just 20 seconds later, as Ville Leino had the pick bounce to him with a wide open net.

The 2nd line continued their unbelievable play this postseason. Scott Hartnell, Danny Briere, and Ville Leino were a solid line again, as all 3 players scored goals. Hartnell, who I have been very critical of, was one of the best players on the ice in Game 3, and had an unbelievable assist on the Briere goal. Matt Carle, Chris Pronger, and Claude Giroux also had very strong games.

The top line, mostly Jeff Carter, and Daniel Carcillo did not have good games. The top line has yet to show up this series, and Richards, Carter, and Gagne need to step up their games. Carter played one of the worst games I've ever seen anyone play. He looked horrible out on the ice, and there is no reason that Carter, at 6'4", 220 should be as soft as he is. That top line needs to step it up if the Flyers want to win this series, and if they do step it up, the Flyers could definitely win the Stanley Cup. I hate to seem like I am ripping Jeff Carter, because he is probably still somewhat injured, but if he plays well, that first line can succeed, and that would go a long way.

Daniel Carcillo is a guy who you really like to have on your team. He gets in opposing player's heads, he can fight, and is an annoying guy to face when you are on the other team. All of that said, he isn't very good at hockey. Carcillo needs to be scratched again, and go back to James van Riemsdyk. van Riemsdyk is young, and untested, and may never live up to his #2 overall pick status, but he still has a lot of skill, much more than Carcillo. Giroux has been playing on a line with Carcillo and Asham, and Giroux's skill level is somewhat lost with those 2 on his line. JVR hasn't put up many points this postseason, but he has a lot of speed, and puck handling skills, and needs to be out there. The team actually knows that Carcillo doesn't give them much, since Carcillo has yet to play in either of the last 2 games 3rd period. And these are 2 periods that the Flyers have dominated.

In fact, my sources are telling me that JVR will suit up, but I am not sure who will not play in his place. The only person who makes sense would be Carcillo.