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Hammer time: Schultz dishes on playoffs

by Dave Schultz

Former Philadelphia Flyers' enforcer Dave Schultz
likes the current makeup of his old club, but is not
sure their goaltending can take them to the Final.
Watch Dave Schultz on 'The Hockey Show'
Dave "The Hammer" Schultz played parts of 10 NHL seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Los Angeles Kings and Buffalo Sabres. In 535 games, he ran up 2,294 penalty minutes, including a single-season League record 472 PIM in 1974-75. Regarded as the toughest player and best fighter of his generation, Schultz reached his greatest fame during his five seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers as one of the leaders of the "Broad Street Bullies" that won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975. Schultz shares his opinions on the playoffs, especially his beloved Flyers, exclusively with

Playoff hockey is the best hockey there is. And I'll watch them in-depth, especially for as long as the Flyers are in it. If they weren't in after the quarterfinals, I probably would watch some. And I'll certainly watch the Stanley Cup Final.

Do the Flyers have a good chance to get to the Final? I don't know. I think they have the right mix of old and young. They could use Simon Gagne, but they picked up Vinny Prospal, and that was a great pickup for that time of year. The guy can score goals.

I also like their leadership. And they have four guys on that team that were captains on other teams -- Derian Hatcher, Kimmo Timonen, Jason Smith and Daniel Briere. And, I like Mike Richards. They've got some good, young, guys.

But I don't know if Martin Biron can carry them all the way to the Final. He's never played playoffs before, but that doesn't mean nothing. There's been goalies in their first playoffs that have done well. He's not 22, he's 30. He's got the experience; he's been around the block.

I think the big thing is, the Flyers always have a goaltender controversy, but right now they don't. But if the Capitals score six on him in the next game and they lose 6-2, I would hope they would go back with Biron.

Bernie Parent, our goalie from those championship years in Philadelphia, says this all the time: they need to name a goalie a No. 1 guy. Don't play with their heads, name him. If the other guy gets hurt, then fine; but pick a No. 1 guy. If you don't, I think that makes it very difficult for a goalie. If he lets a couple bad ones in, he's afraid he's going to get taken out. Plus, if you know you're going with the same guy night in and night out, game in and game out, you can get confidence in him, and there's no controversy. I think that's important.

And having one guy helps the defense -- especially if the goalies play two different styles. If you've played with both goalies a fair amount during the season, you can quickly adapt. But some guys can handle the puck better than others, some guys like to see shots versus others who like guys to block them.

Besides the Flyers, I certainly would have an interest in Pittsburgh, because of Sidney Crosby. I'm a Pittsburgh Penguins alum. They've had such a great year. A lot of times you want a team to have a good run leading up to it, some momentum to take into the next year. Like Pittsburgh last year.

Pittsburgh has a good team. They've got good goaltending; they've got a good, solid team. They got 102 points, and they didn't do it by accident. Crosby, he's not the biggest kid, but he's good. He plays. He goes out and plays. This year, he's been injured, he's probably still not right. Pittsburgh, a few years ago, was pretty far down the League and look where they are today. That's a pretty good team.

Montreal is very interesting to me. They had 104 points. They play well as a team; I think that's the key. They're obviously well-coached. But they have an advantage. It's not a huge advantage, but it's an advantage – they're the Montreal Canadiens.

There's history there, and they're held to a higher standard. The St. Louis Blues have never won a Stanley Cup, there's no history there. The Flyers, we have some history, but not like Montreal. They have Jean Beliveau there, he's at all the games.

I've recently gotten to know Rejean Houle, who's involved with public relations and the community, and he's always there. Yvan Cournoyer, Bob Gainey, just great history. The ghosts help them.

In the West, I like San Jose. Joe Thornton is strong, and every year they have good years. They don't last long in the playoffs, though. I don't know if this could be their year.

I have a soft spot for Calgary, my sister lives there. The Red Mile, they really get behind those Flames. It's a small Canadian city. Jarome Iginla, he's a hell of a player. I guess I feel like San Jose, one of these times, should come through and make it. And then there's Detroit, with 115 points – wow! I don't see them very often, but Brendan Shanahan's gone, Steve Yzerman retired, and they still get 115 points. It's amazing. It really is.

If the Capitals do win the series with the Flyers, it would be interesting to watch Alex Ovechkin and what happens there. I've seen him a little bit. All they talk about -- and I've seen it, I've watched it on replays -- is when he got his face broke at the beginning of the game and he still scored four goals. He thrives on the contact. Not only does he have talent – he's not a Wayne Gretzky, but he loves to score goals -- he likes to get hit. That makes for some exciting hockey.

Speaking of the Capitals, I read in the paper what their coach, Bruce Boudreau said. He said the Flyers, they play in-your-face, tough hockey. They've been playing that way since 1972. This is new? Montreal always won with a lot of speed, finesse, great talent. The Flyers always had a so-called tough team.

The rules have changed the game, there's no question about that. Guys are better athletes. Is there less respect? You can talk about that a little bit. You have to be careful. You can't take a lot of penalties. Toughness to me, I'm not talking about guys hurting guys. Some of those incidents that take place. … It's just a guy playing good, tough hockey, being hard on the puck.

Dave Schultz likes one of his former teams, the Penguins, who he played with from 1977-79, to
make it to the Eastern Conference Final.
I don't like to see some of the injuries, the way they're caused. If you did some of those things when I played, we were coming after you. You just didn't do that. What I don't like is when I see two players say to each other, "Wanna go? Wanna go?" That's like a staged event so they can keep their jobs.

My problem is, you hit my guy, before that game is over, so-and-so is going to go after him because he deserved it. Now, you can run Crosby and nothing happens. It's harder for the players to police themselves.

A lot of those guys on the fourth line, they might as well go shower at the 10-minute mark of the third period. They're not going to play in overtime, they're not going to play in the last 10 minutes, generally; rarely.

I think these guys are bigger, faster, stronger. They train harder. I think whatever the differences are playoff hockey brings it up a notch. I loved the playoffs. The reason is every game is its own season, almost. You don't have to worry about where you're traveling after the game. You know who you're playing until that series is over. And you can focus the whole plan on one team.

It's tough. Tonight, all the emphasis is on tonight. It doesn't matter about the next game. It's tonight. And if you lose momentum for whatever reason, it's tough for a team, when they lose momentum in a series, it's hard to get it back.

One of the other things I'm watching is to see how the Anaheim Ducks do. We won back-to-back Cups, and winning the second time was harder.

There were 16 teams in the League when we won it the first year, and 18 the second year. Now, there are 30 teams, and I think the more teams, the harder it is. It's tough to win it two years in a row.

You know what the real tough part is? You're not done until June, and you start back in training camp in September. We did that three straight years. We lost in the Final in 1976 to Montreal.

It's tough repeating. The Devils have won three Stanley Cups since 1995, that's a pretty fair accomplishment. I think, for me, and maybe for a lot of hockey fans, Anaheim is way out there. The Ducks lose a little bit of emphasis. Their games don't start until 10 p.m. Most people in the East are asleep.

The teams are so close. It's hard to predict who could make the Final. In the West, I should say Detroit; look at the season they've had. But I don't know. It could be Colorado. I guess if I was going to predict right now, I can't pick the Flyers. They could go deep, but I would probably go with Montreal and Pittsburgh in the final in the East. Could the Rangers come in there? They have a good team and I think they're going to beat the Devils now.

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