|05.02.11 at 6:59 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — Lauren Hart delivered one of her most inspired God Bless America performances prior to Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semis between the Flyers and Bruins Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
At the end, the cheers from the sellout crowd dressed in orange turned into chants of “USA, USA, USA.”
|05.02.11 at 6:06 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — Approximately an hour before faceoff for Game 2, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren confirmed that top defenseman Chris Pronger will be out with an undisclosed injury.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie – on his twitter page – initially reported in the afternoon that Pronger would likely miss the game, with Danny Syvret taking his place. But Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren sent a text out to Philadelphia beat writers that the defenseman was “OK,” leading to speculation that he would play in Game 2.
But minutes later, numerous reports confirmed the Pronger scratch for Game 2.
Pronger missed the last five minutes of Saturday’s Game 1 and was spotted headed up the runway with about two minutes remaining.
The injury is not believed to be related to the broken hand he suffered in the middle of the season, leading to speculation that it is some sort of leg or lower body injury.
|05.02.11 at 2:07 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — The Bruins were without their top defenseman Zdeno Chara for Game 2 last round and that didn’t work out so well. Now they hope, turn about is fair play as the Flyers could be without Chris Pronger tonight for Game 2.
Pronger didn’t play the last five minutes of Saturday’s game and was seen trotting up the runway with two minutes left as the Bruins finished off the Flyers, 7-3.
Will he be available tonight?
“With regard to injury, everything comes from the general manager Paul Holmgren,” head coach Peter Laviolette said.
“I think we’ve had success when we’ve had success when those guys have been out of the lineup, just speaking from past instances when Carter and Pronger have been out,” Laviolette added.
It’ll be Sean O’Donnell and Andrej Meszaros asked to pick up more of the slack if Pronger can’t go.
“Well, we’ve gone through a lot stretches without him in the lineup and guys have stepped up on the D-corps and played well,” said Flyers forward Scott Hartnell. “O’Donnell and Meszaros have been great fifth and sixth defensemen. On another team, they may be third, fourth guys so you look around the room, Kimmo [Timmonen] played some great minutes and playing the best hockey of his career so we’re excited about it.”
“It doesn’t matter,” added Danny Briere. “We can’t just rely on him. Obviously, it’s nice when he’s in the lineup, he’s a big piece of the puzzle. We played a lot of games without him and we were successful. We can’t sit back and hope that – if he plays – he’s going to change everything. We all have a job to do and that’s what we have to focus on.”
The Bruins are playing coy and saying they’re focused on themselves prior to Game 2.
“Is he hurt? I didn’t even know,” Bruins center David Krejci said. “I’m just focusing on my game. That’s all I can do.”
“I don’t know. I’ve never played them without Pronger,” added Bruins forward Chris Kelly. “Obviously, he’s a great player, and he’s a big impact for their team, just like Zdeno Chara is for us. I think both teams are lucky to have those players.”
|05.02.11 at 1:28 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — From the first moment Kate Smith‘s rendition of “God Bless America” replaced the national anthem at a Flyers’ home game on Dec. 11, 1969, the song has sent chills up the spines of everyone in attendance.
Tonight, it will reach a whole new level – and meaning – altogether. And, all of America and the world will be watching. With the news of Osama bin Laden‘s execution on Sunday night, Americans have been celebrating the news with the pledge of allegiance and singing “God Bless America.”
The Flyers still show a video of Smith – who died in 1986 – singing “God Bless America” in lieu of “The Star Spangled Banner” for good luck before important games. The video of her performance is now accompanied by Lauren Hart, daughter of the late Hockey Hall of Fame broadcaster, Gene Hart, the longtime voice of the Flyers.
Bruins coach Claude Julien is more than aware of what the atmosphere will be in the building come 7:30, in the moments before faceoff.
“That’s something that went though my mind this morning, no doubt about that,” Julien said. “When something major like that happens, I guess all the attention is drawn that way but our guys this morning seemed fine. In the morning skate, I like their focus, I liked everything else.
“There’s two teams. If one team’s going through it, I’m sure the other one is as well. I think our guys are very professional and capable of separating the things that are important when the time comes. Everybody was obviously very interested in hearing what’s happened in the last little while with that but at the same time, it’s important to be ready for the game and I think the guys understand that.”
The Flyers understand it, too, and may be under greater pressure to balance energy with emotion, especially at the start.
‘The fans and the atmosphere should be great for that part of the game,’ Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk told WEEI.com’s D.J. Bean. ‘It’s a proud day in our history, you could say now, is the day that this guy was brought to justice. At that point last night, I know hockey was put on the back burner for a second there when you kind of think of all the things that have been affected and all the people close to you that maybe lost someone. It’s obviously a good thing that all this came to justice last night.’
Bruins fans old enough to remember recall another special day when Smith performed in person.
Smith was called in to the Spectrum in front of a capacity crowd of 17,007 fans before Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals on May 19, 1974. That’s when B’s captain Phil Esposito infamously tried to jinx the Flyers’ good luck charm by presenting her with a bouquet of roses after her performance. It didn’t work. Bernie Parent blanked Espo, Bobby Orr and the B’s, 1-0, for the first of two straight Stanley Cups.
Including Saturday’s loss to the Bruins, the Flyers are 95-27-4 when trotting out the old standby.
So tonight, just before faceoff, turn up the TV and listen for Flyers public address announcer Lou Nolan to say, “Ladies and gentlemen, at this time, we ask that you please rise and remove your hats and salute to our flags and welcome the number 1 ranked anthemist in the NHL, Lauren Hart, as she sings God Bless America, accompanied by the great Kate Smith.”
And good luck hearing the duet from there.
|05.02.11 at 12:42 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — Bruins forward Chris Kelly is still sporting the full cage, and he’s itching to get rid of it. Kelly has had to wear the cage since Game 4 of the first round, when he slid head-first into the post in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Canadiens. Though he’s feeling better, he’s still proceeding with caution.
“The face is fine,” he said Monday. “I’m not sure how long, but obviously I’ll go on what the trainer suggests and kind of go forward from there.”
As for when the cage will come on, Kelly just hopes it’s as soon as possible. He had joked in Montreal that if he played well with it, he might keep it on as a signature piece of equipment, a la Richard Hamilton with the Detroit Pistons. Coincidentally or not, Kelly has five points in five games since he started wearing the cage, after totaling one in the first three playoff games prior. Monday, he corrected the record, noting that even if he struggles without the cage, that he’ll just “deal with it.” Once the mask comes off, he hopes it will be off for good.
“I’m not a superstitious person,” he said with a smile. “Not by that extreme.”
It’s hard to miss Kelly when he’s on the ice given the cage, something he says he hasn’t worn since he was 14 years old. It could make him a target for chirping, but if Flyers players are saying things, he isn’t hearing them.
“Not that I’ve heard of,” he said when asked if players have been poking fun at him. “Maybe I don’t hear as much with the cage on. Maybe they are chirping. I don’t know.”
|05.02.11 at 11:43 am ET|
PHILADELPHIA ‘ The Flyers have a game to focus on Monday night, but the morning after it was learned that Osama bin Laden had been killed, Philadelphia forward and New Jersey native and former UNH Wildcat James van Riemsdyk couldn’t help but think back to what it was like as a youngster as the events of Sept. 11, 2001, unfolded.
“I remember exactly where I was when everything happened,” van Riemsdyk, 21, said Monday. “I remember being in middle school, sixth grade. I think I was at lunch at the time — that’s when we first found out — and they didn’t want to tell us what happened, but there were rumors going around the school, and then we got home. To see all the stuff that had happened, it was just a terrible thing. It was just a very tough time.
“There was a buzz about it, and I think right before I went home, we heard about what happened. I actually had a computer class, and they told us to stay off the Internet, but I was pretty eager and curious to see what happened and go on CNN.com to hear what had happened.”
A friend of van Riemsdyk’s lost his father in the terrorist attacks, as he was at the World Trade Center at the time, while two people from his home town of Middletown, N.J., also were killed.
“There was a big memorial in our town that they did a pretty nice job on,” van Riemsdyk said. “It definitely affected a lot of people close to me. ‘¦ It was definitely a sad day. A lot of good people died that day, but it’s good that some justice finally came out of it now.”
The winger, who has represented the United States in international play in multiple competitions, including winning the gold with the U.S. under-18 team in 2006, said his father could see the events unfold from where he worked. Frans van Riemsdyk was one of the first people he spoke to Monday morning.
“They saw the second plane come cruising in,” he said. “They thought it was like an accident at first. No one knew what was going on, and then you see this plane take a direct course [toward the World Trade Center]. It was a pretty crazy thing.”
A day after chants of “USA” broke out at Citizens Bank Park during Sunday night’s Phillies-Mets game, JVR can only imagine what the atmosphere will be like for the Flyers’ pregame tradition of “God Bless America,” a duet sung by Lauren Hart with a video of the late Kate Smith.
“The fans and the atmosphere should be great for that part of the game,” van Riemsdyk said. “It’s a proud day in our history, you could say now, is the day that this guy was brought to justice. At that point last night, I know hockey was put on the back burner for a second there when you kind of think of all the things that have been affected and all the people close to you that maybe lost someone. It’s obviously a good thing that all this came to justice last night.”
|05.02.11 at 11:39 am ET|
PHILADELPHIA — After allowing five goals on just 23 shots in Game 1 Saturday, Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette announced Monday morning that Brian Boucher will get a second chance and will start Game 2 tonight against the Bruins at Wells Fargo Center.
“Brian will go back in net today,” Laviolette announced after the Flyers pregame skate at Wells Fargo. “Today is a game, for me, where we all get to go back in there and right some wrongs so, everybody gets an opportunity. He’s deserves it.”
The Flyers have been in crisis mode with their goaltending in the playoffs so far, with Laviolette changing goalies midgame already four times in the first eight playoffs games, and six times in their last 14 postseason games, dating back to last year’s Stanley Cup finals against the Blackhawks.
On Saturday, after yielding the fifth goal in the second period, Laviolette turned to rookie Sergei Bobrovsky, who allowed two goals in the third period of Boston’s 7-3 romp that put the Bruins up, 1-0, in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Flyers could be without two of their top players tonight as defenseman Chris Pronger and forward Jeff Carter both missed the morning skate. Pronger came back late in the first round after dealing with a broken hand while Carter injured his knee during the Sabres series and hasn’t returned.