The partially good news for the Flyers is, their losses in Chicago were by one goal each. The bad news is, the Flyers trail in the Stanley Cup finals two games to none.
The good news for the orange and black is, the next two games are in Philadelphia. Remember Farm Aid? The Wachovia Center turns into “Orange Aid” with 20,000 fans wearing bright orange T-shirts while offering ear-deafening encouragement. The bad news is, Chicago has played well on the road in the playoffs.
Blackhawks goaltender Antti Niemi recovered from allowing five goals in Game 1 by stopping 32 shots in Chicago’s 2-1 victory last night. He was particularly strong in the closing minutes when the Flyers mounted several scoring threats.
Said Flyers captain Mike Richards: “We were doing a lot of good things near the game of the game, getting shots, getting pucks deep. We had a mediocre second period, and it cost us.”
Richards assisted on Simon Gagne’s power-play goal 5:20 into the third period that trimmed Chicago’s advantage to 2-1.
|Patrick Kane of Chicago Blackhawks handles the puck against Matt Carle of the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final in Chicago on May 31, 2010. (Getty Images) |
Except for a deflating 28-second stretch late in the second period last night, Flyers goalie Michael Leighton also bounced back from yielding five goals n Game 1.
After Chicago’s Marian Hossa scored at 17:09 of the second period, Ben Eager took a pass from Dustin Byfuglien, skated into the Flyers zone and blasted a high shot that eluded Leighton on the glove side. It was the first goal of the playoffs for Eager, a former Flyers enforcer.
Leighton noted that Eager used the Flyers' Matt Carle
as a screen on the shot.
“I didn’t see him released the puck,” Leighton said. “I saw it when it went through my D-man. That’s not saying (Eager) is an Alex Ovechkin. That’s how he scored a lot of his goals: he drags (the puck) and used the D as a screen.”
“It’s just tough giving up two goals that quick. We thought we played well in the first. Boom, they scored a good goal, (then) we gave up one right away. It kind of took the wind out of our sail a little bit. But we came out in the third and played the way we can.”Kimmo Timonen
, the Flyers straight talking, unflappable veteran defenseman, knows the Flyers will need a 60-minute game to derail the Blackhawks.
“The third period was our game: we should play that way for 60 minutes,” Timonen said. “Five guys skated and really forechecked hard.”Danny Briere
, the Flyers leading goal scorer in the playoffs (10), agrees that the Flyers must translate the way they played in the third period into full games if they expect to topple the Blackhawks.
“We were way too conservative the first two periods,” Briere said. “We didn’t give them much, but we didn’t forecheck, we didn’t spend much time in their zone. Tightening up defensively doesn’t mean no forecheck and no offense.”
The Flyers can be pleased that Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane haven’t done any damage yet. But they are too talented not to find the net during the series.
I thought Peter Laviolette’s decision to insert Dan Carcillo back into the lineup gave the Flyers a boost. Carcillo was on the minds of the Blackhawks even in the pregame warmup when Adam Burish was “welcoming” him to Chicago.
In the first period, after Carcillo collided with teammate Jeff Carter, Chicago’s Tomas Kopecky was lecturing Carcillo. Later, Carcillo was snarling at the Chicago bench. I don’t think Carcillo was asking for restaurant recommendations.
Carcillo began the game on Richards’s line, with Simon Gagne moving to left wing on Claude Giroux
’s line. Referring to Carcillo, Richards said, “He’s a guy who brings energy, momentum. He played well tonight.”
Said Laviolette: “I thought Danny did a good job. He skated, he forechecked. I thought he brought some energy.”
So, the Flyers return home for Game 3 tomorrow night. Timonen summed up the Flyers attitude by saying, “It’s not time to panic. We’ve done this before. Obviously, we need to get better. We’ve got to get another gear.”
Game 3 now is the biggest of the season for the Flyers. Their climbing out of a 3-0 ditch against Boston to win the Eastern Conference semifinal series was inspiring. However, should the Blackhawks win tomorrow night, their 3-0 advantage would be Grand Canyon-sized even for the Flyers.Please note that the views expressed in this column are not necessarily the views expressed by the Philadelphia Flyers Hockey Club.
Bill Fleischman is a veteran Philadelphia Daily News sportswriter. He was the Flyers' beat reporter for the Daily News in the 1970s, and continued to cover games in later years. A former president of the Professional Hockey Writers and the Philadelphia Sports Writers Associations, Fleischman is co-author of "Bernie, Bernie," the autobiography of Bernie Parent. Fleischman also is co-author of "The Unauthorized NASCAR Fan Guide." Since 1982, he has been an adjunct professor in the University of Delaware journalism program.
He is a graduate of Germantown High School and Gettysburg College.