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A switch in time saves Flyers

Friday, 05.16.2008 / 8:53 AM / Game-Day Skate

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist


The Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Penguins 4-2 last night but still trail their playoff series 3-1. Watch Briere's goal
A few thoughts as we take a breather before the Red Wings and Penguins go for the clinchers this weekend.

A switch in time -- With his team’s season on the line, Flyers coach John Stevens jumbled his lines for Game 4 against Pittsburgh -- and the strategy worked.

Stevens moved Daniel Briere out of his normal center position onto the wing with Mike Richards. He put Vaclav Prospal, who’s usually Briere’s left wing, into the middle.

The move to the wing appeared to energize Briere, who had his first goal of the series and was a factor offensively all night in the 4-2 win.

“I thought the line changes were good,” Stevens said. “Danny looked like he had jump. I think he gets the puck a lot from Richie. Richie is more of a puck-possession guy, and Danny can get the holes.

“I thought Vinny (Prospal) did a great job moving in the middle.  He's strong on faceoffs. He reads well. I think there is a little confusion a few times coming back on our end.  But, overall, I thought he did a great job. And for guys to move their position in such a critical game, I thought really showed a big commitment for the team, and a little sacrifice for their own game, so it was terrific.”

Briere said the change wasn’t a big deal to him.

“I played the wing before -- I played quite a bit when I was in Phoenix, I played a little bit when I was in Buffalo,” he said. “Moving to the wing for me is not something that bothers me. I was fine with it. And the way we play -- in today's game, it just seems you're all over the place. After the faceoff, it's read-and-react. A lot of times you can end up anywhere on the ice.”

Looking at the big picture -- No coach likes to lose. But Pittsburgh’s Michel Therrien wasn’t exactly downcast after his team’s Game 4 loss to Philadelphia.

“We've got to look at the big picture here. After four games, we're leading 3-1, and that's the most important thing for us. I like our chance after four games.” - Penguins heaad coach Michel Therrien
“We've got to look at the big picture here,” he said. “After four games, we're leading 3-1, and that's the most important thing for us. I like our chance after four games.”

The Penguins are in the same position they were in against the New York Rangers in the previous round -- they won the first three games and lost Game 4 on the road. They had to go to overtime in Game 5 before beating the Rangers 3-2 to advance to the Eastern Finals.

“We're in good position, good command, the same position that we were against the Rangers, and we played a solid game,” Therrien said. “This is what we've got to focus on. You know what? It's tough to lose. We didn't quit. It's a good thing -- we didn't quit.  Guys are battling, and trying to make a comeback. It's tough to make those types of comebacks in the playoffs.  But, in the meantime, we've got to look at the big picture, and play the type of game that we play at home.”

Sidney Crosby said the Penguins paid the price for a slow start that saw the Flyers up 3-0 after one period.

“You want to win every game,” he said. “But they had a good first period, and we didn't. That was really the difference. We fought hard in the second and third, and you give them too many opportunities. But it was just too little, too late.”

Marty and “The Joe” — No Dallas Star wants to win Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals more than goaltender Marty Turco.

Dallas Stars goalie Marty Turco is 0-9-2 in 11 NHL decisions at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena.
Turco starred at the University of Michigan and played at Joe Louis Arena in college. But “The Joe” has been a house of horrors for Turco since he turned pro. He’s 0-9-2 in 11 NHL decisions in Detroit, including 4-1 and 2-1 losses in the first two games of this series.

"It's nothing short of an exciting challenge for all of us, and for me personally," Turco said of Saturday afternoon’s game.

Stars forward Steve Ott said the stage will be set perfectly for Turco.

"He wants that win probably more than anybody," Ott said. "A win there would be huge for his confidence and the team's."

The Stars are in much better spirits and like their chances at pulling off a rare comeback in the Stanley Cup playoffs after beating Detroit 3-1 at home Wednesday night.

"Our guys feel very good today," Dallas coach Dave Tippett said. "You get up this morning, you're still alive."

Only two teams have ever overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a series, but Ott is just happy to be playing hockey instead of planning his summer vacation.

"Summer could have started today and we would have been all pretty miserable having meetings," Ott said. "We're alive and we feel good. We feel confident going into Detroit."

No “Mule” for Game 5 — For the fourth-straight game, the Wings will be without NHL playoff goal-scoring leader Johan Franzen, who’s been sidelined because of concussion-like symptoms. Franzen has been cleared for light workouts, but doesn't appear to be ready to return to the lineup to add to his franchise-record 12 goals.

Franzen
"He's going to have to practice with us for a few days and feel good the next day before he plays again," Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland said.

Though the Wings are happy to be back in Detroit after splitting two games in Dallas, captain Nicklas Lidstrom said they can’t rely too much on playing at home because Dallas is going to play with nothing-to-lose intensity.

"They are going to come out with the same desperation they did last night, and that's something we have to match," Lidstrom said when the team arrived back home Thursday. "We have to match their intensity. We have to try to stay out of the box too."

Contact John Kreiser at jkreiser@nhl.com


Quote of the Day

I'm just excited about the opportunity. I've been on the ice earlier than usual and in the weight room, pushing around a little more weights than usual. Every day I go into a workout with a smile on my face and ready to go. When you do have a little more responsibility, you want to take your lunch pail and get ready to work.

— Brian Elliott to Jeremy Rutherford of the Post-Dispatch on being the Blues' No. 1 goalie