Archive for playoffs

Game Sevens: Capitals Dump Rangers; Devils Ousted by Hurricanes

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on April 29, 2009 by flyersfan44

Two great game sevens in the Eastern Quarterfinals resulted in the ouster of the Rangers and Devils.  The Capitals, led byAlex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, and Sergei Fedorov (who scored the winner with about five minutes left), defeated the Rangers 3-2.  What would Ronald Reagan say?  In the nation’s capital, the fans wear red and cheer for three Russians who lead the team.  Unthinkable! That’s OK, they beat the Rangers, sending them and their nonsense antics home for the summer.  Caps’ fans seated behind the Rangers’ bench survived game seven unscathed, as there was no water bottle squirting by coach John Tortorella in this one.  Several fans wore plastic ponchos just in case. Fedorov put a great shot over Henrik Lundqvist’s shoulder as Rangers’ defenseman Wade Redden (signed last summer as a free agent) screened Lundqvist. What an expensive way to lose a game seven. 

The Carolina Hurricanes scored two goals in the last minutes of the game against the best goalie in the world to defeat the Devils 4-3.  I was depressed about the end of the Flyers’ season until I started thinking about how much it must suck to be a Devils’ fan right now.  Tough one, Brodeur.

So, we have the entire New York market out of the playoffs after round one – good riddance –  and the League got the second round matchup it wanted: Crosby vs. Ovechkin.  Should be a great series. I hope the Capitals win soundly.  The Penguins are the most unsportsmanlike team in the league, whining and diving to draw penalties, and starting fights as soon as they fall behind in a game.  Cindy Crosby is a miserable player – just doesn’t look like he enjoys himself. Ovechkin has fun and is highly entertaining. 

I must point out that I was seven for eight in my round one picks, missing only the Ducks over the Sharks.  Yes, I had the Flyers losing and the  ‘Canes beating the Devils.  I’ll have my round two picks shortly.

Flyers Blow Game Six; Penguins Win Series 4-2

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on April 26, 2009 by flyersfan44

It was an uncomfortably warm 87 degrees in Philadelphia on Saturday and among the things that evaporated in the unseasonably warm weather was the Flyers’ 3-0 lead over the Penguins in game six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Four minutes into the second period, the Flyers had built what appeared to be a solid lead on goals by Mike Knuble, Joffrey Lupul, and Danny Briere. Fans were pumped that the series looked to be going back to Pittsburgh for a deciding game seven. But hold on, as they have struggled to do all season, the Flyers could not play a full 60 minute game, easing up with the lead and allowing the Penguins to put 20 shots on net in the second period and to bang home some  garbage goals from in close to tie the game.   A laser shot just inside the post by Sergei Gonchar in the third period gave the Pens the lead and fittingly the Flyers’ nemesis Cindy Crosby sealed it with an empty netter. 

It was fitting that the Flyers season ended as it had gone all year, with the Flyers losing focus (check my post about a game against the Canadiens for a typical example), allowing too many shots, and failing to play a full 60-minute game.  Whether this is from coaching or lack of maturity, it is a critical problem that needs to be corrected. 

I don’t think we can blame Marty Biron, who played well through the series and couldn’t be faulted on any of the goals in game six.  I would point out that Jeff Carter looked awful in the series, scoring only one goal, and inexplicably appeared to be floating at times even in Saturday’s game.  How a player floats through a crucial playoff game is beyond me. Not sure if he was hurt, but his lack of intensity makes me angry.  He has a habit of playing in a nonchalant manner at times, demonstrated by his miss of an open net in game two. He failed to bear down from in close allowing Fleury to get a pad on his shot and failing to score a goal that likely would have put the game away for the Flyers and tied the series at one game each.  Faceoffs continued to be a problem with the Flyers losing too many draws.  Interesting how the issues that were identified all season long ended up having a major impact on why the Flyers lost this series.

Once again, the Flyers put together a solid season with over 40 wins, but they once again could not get to that level of 50 wins and a Stanley Cup. It’s 34 years now. 

The season starts to slip away from Marty Biron and the Flyers.

The season starts to slip away from Marty Biron and the Flyers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Former Flyer Mark Eaton scores as Richards and Timonen watch helplessly.

Former Flyer Mark Eaton scores as Richards and Timonen watch helplessly.

Flyers Shut Out Pens in Game Five; Bringing it Back Home!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on April 24, 2009 by flyersfan44

The Flyers played an awesome game on Thursday night in Pittsburgh, shutting out the Penguins and forcing a sixth game in Philadelphia.  After being outplayed in the first period, the Flyers settled in and smothered the Pens with tight defense and great goaltending from Marty Biron for a 3-0 victory.  Aaron Asham’s second period laser from the top of the circle found the top corner of the net right under the crossbar after a nifty drop pass from Dan Carcillo and a Cindy Crosby turnover at center ice for the only goal the Flyers needed.  Insurance goals from stellar rookie Claude Giroux and veteran Mike Knuble in the third period sealed the win.  The Flyers finally ended up on the right side of a disputed goal when Evgeni Malkin’s score in the second was waived off after the replay ruled that he had kicked it in. About time the powers that be ruled a disputed goal correctly.  Biron made a number of sensational saves especially in the first period and the Flyers checked tightly and knocked pucks away from the Pens all night.

Now it’s time for game six in Philadelphia on Saturday. You gotta know that the Pens wanted no part of coming back to the hostile Wachovia Center.  Guaranteed it will be loud there!  An awesome win but only one game.  However, if we take game six it all comes down to one game.

Goalie Marty Biron stops Evgeni Malkin on the way to his shut out.

Goalie Marty Biron stops Evgeni Malkin on the way to his shut out.

Flyers' winger Scott Hartnell celebrates Mike Knuble's third-period goal.

Flyers' winger Scott Hartnell celebrates Mike Knuble's third-period goal.

Fleury Steals Game Four; Flyers Down, 3-1

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on April 22, 2009 by flyersfan44

Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was sensational on Tuesday night, stopping just about everything that the Flyers could throw at him and leading the Penguins to a 3-1 victory in game four.  Although the Flyers outplayed the Penguins, outshooting them 46-26 and dominating the play for most of the game, they couldn’t solve Fleury.  Can’t blame the refs in this one as the Flyers were 0 for 8 on the power play.  Crosby’s goal that gave the Pens a 1-0 lead was a fluke, maybe it could have been waived off, but when you put 46 shots on net and have eight power plays, you have to be able to score.  The frustrating thing is that the Flyers clearly outplayed the Pens in two of the games they lost and could (should?) be up three games to one.  But that’s what a great goalie does for a team in the playoffs and although Biron has played well, maybe he hasn’t played to the level of Fleury and right now, that’s the difference.

Fleury stops chance by Flyers' Scott Hartnell

Fleury stops chance by Flyers' Scott Hartnell

Claude Giroux Shines as Flyers Drop Penguins, 6-3

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on April 20, 2009 by flyersfan44

The Flyers came out roaring in front of the usually raucous Wachovia Center crowd on Sunday afternoon, scoring on their first two shots and going on to a scintillating 6-3 victory in game three.  In what was one of the best playoff games I’ve seen, rookie Claude Giroux starred with a Gordie Howe Hat Trick (a goal, an assist, and a fight) and the Flyers and Pens pounded each other for sixty minutes of intense hockey. 

Jeff Carter swooped in and scored on a backhand shot to open the scoring and Mike Richards scored a power play goal to make it 2-0 before the game was barely five minutes old.  The Pens tied it after an obvious goalie interference penalty was overlooked on Rob Scuderi’s goal 13 seconds into the second period. Four minutes later, however, Giroux took an awesome feed from Danny Briere in front and tapped home an open-netter.  Midway through the second, Giroux made star defenseman Sergei Gonchar look ordinary when he stripped him of the puck behind the net, froze him with a sharp turn, then skated behind the net and threaded a pass in front to Simon Gagne for a one-timer into the net.  Perhaps more embarrassing for the Penguins was giving up the first ever goal by a player from Alabama, as rookie Jared Ross scored three minutes into the third.  Sergei Malkin’s second of the game got the few misguided Pengiuns fans in the building briefly excited before Gagne’s second of the game into an empty net sealed the win. 

The lopsided officiating continued in the Penguins favor, with several phantom calls against the Flyers and numerous elbows and other cheap shots by the skunks from the Steel City overlooked.  Jordan Staal connected on more elbows than shots on net and Chris Kunitz left his feet and went at Flyers’ defenseman Kimmo Timonen’s head early in the game.  The Pens have been targeting Timonen all series and the refs let it go as he evidently does not warrant the protection afforded Cindy Crosby and other stars.  I thought the Flyers-Montreal series in last year’s playoffs was ridiculous in terms of the refs favoring the Canadiens, but the first three games of this series have been worse.  Looks like the Flyers will have to beat the refs as well as the Penguins if they want to win this series. 

The Flyers still need to win game four at home. If they do, it’s a whole new series.

No, it's over here, Fleury. Rookie Claude Giroux scores in Game Three.

No, it's over here, Fleury. Rookie Claude Giroux scores in Game Three.

Flyers Lose Game 1; Carcillo Suspended

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on April 17, 2009 by flyersfan44

Somehow the Flyers failed to show up for game one of the series and dropped a 4-1 decision to the Penguins.  Once again, turnovers were a problem as well as undisciplined penalties which caused the Flyers to tire themselves killing them off.  A very marginal hooking call on Aaron Asham led to the Pens’ first goal, and the call indicated that the leage intends to make sure the Flyers will have a difficult time slowing down the Pens as the league obviously hopes they skate deep into the playoffs with their superstars.   The Flyers will need to play much better and much more disciplined if they hope to win the series.

On the final faceoff, Dan Carcillo bopped Maxime Talbot on the head with his gloved fist and Talbot dropped as if he had been shot. Although no penalty was called, the league decided to send a message that these sort of messages at the end of games will not be tolerated and suspended Carcillo for game two.  All of a sudden now the league decides that what should be a roughing penalty is now a suspendable offense. Way to change the rules as you go along! However, at the end of the Canadiens-Bruins game one, there was similar stuff going on but curiously so far I have not heard of any suspensions resulting for Les Canadiens.  Not surprising that the league would have an apparent double-standard when it comes to Montreal.

Game two tonight. Hopefully the Flyers will show up for it.

Playoff Predictions

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on April 15, 2009 by flyersfan44

As the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs are set to begin Wednesday, it’s time to predict the results of the first round.  Readers, feel free to post your predictions or comments.

Flyers vs. Penguins: Two very evenly matched teams both with 99 points went 2-2-2 against each other in the regular season.  The Flyers, when they are playing to their level of capability, could go far into the playoffs.  They gained valuable experience last spring, have great depth up front with balanced scoring, and are healthy.  They played fantastic hockey in some games, notably in late March when they beat the Devils and Penguins back to back, shutting down Crosby and Malkin with playoff-style defense, 3-1.  If the Flyers play this way in the playoffs they could take a run at the Cup.  However, all season we never knew which team would show up from game to game or even period to period.  The Flyers at times played some really poor hockey without energy or effort, lacking focus, and appeared unready too often at the start of games.  They have a tendency to make giveaways in the defensive or neutral zones that result in goals or scoring opportunities, they sometimes overpass in the offensive zone, and often take too many undisciplined penalties.  The power play has been inconsistent and their even strength scoring is not particularly good.  Goalie Martin Biron appeared to be finding his playoff game in late March, then seemed to lose it as the season wound down.  The team as a whole has not played well going into the playoffs, with a mediocre record over the last 20 games and even the last 10 games.  That they could not manage just one point at home in the last game of the season to secure the fourth spot in the conference is telling.  No intensity or sense of desperation in that game is a worry. 

The Penguins, as immature and whining as they are, have played very well since the firing of Michel Therien. They have a stellar goalie in Marc-Andre Fleury, the one-two punch of Crosby and Malkin, plus they upgraded themselves at the trade deadline by acquiring Chris Kunitz and Bill Guerin, who stirred Cindy Crosby out of his funk.  The Flyers, meanwhile, acquired forward Dan Carcillo who still hasn’t scored a goal. 

Sorry to call it this way and I hope I’m wrong, but…Penguins in six.

Bruins vs. Canadiens: This should be a really good one. Two Original Six teams who have some really bad blood between them this season.  A knock-down, drag-out brawl of a series should go the distance…Bruins in seven.

Capitals vs. Rangers: The Broadway Blueshirts will try to shut down Ovechkin and company with tight-checking and defense. They could do it, too if they get hot goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist.  The Caps, however, will remember last year’s first round exit and they’re ready to take the next step…Capitals in six.

Devils vs. Hurricanes: The ‘Canes are hot and the Devils are not.  This could be the one really big upset that usually happens in round one, especially if Cam Ward is on fire.  Alot of experience on the Devils plus the best goalie in the world makes it tough to pick against them but I’m going to do it anyway…Hurricanes in six.

Sharks vs. Ducks: They didn’t finish with the most points in the league for nothing…Sharks in five.

Red Wings vs. Blue Jackets: Ken Hitchcock is a great coach…wish the Flyers had him. (Whoops, oh yeah we used to).  I’d love to see goalie Steve Mason, who should be Rookie of the Year, get hot and stone the Wings out of the playoffs for a change. It could happen, too.  Hitch will have the game plan ready.  But I don’t think it will be enough to overcome the powerhouse…Red Wings in six.

Canucks vs. Blues: Nice to see the Blues make the playoffs, and they went 25-9-7 in the second half.  That could be bad news for Vancouver, but the Canucks went 23-7-2 and the Sedin twins, Mats Sundin, and Roberto Luongo will be too much for the Blues…Canucks in five.

Blackhawks vs. Flames: The Hawks are up-and-coming, Calgary has injuries and went 0-3-1 against Chicago this season, but Mike Keenan is a great coach…wish the Flyers had him (Whoops, oh yeah…).  Another tough one to call but I’ll take…Blackhawks in seven.