|06.10.10 at 1:28 am ET|
PHILADELPHIA — The team of destiny that made history in Boston went to the well once too often in overtime and it finally cost the Flyers their Stanley Cup dreams. Chicago’s Patrick Kane scored on a bizarre goal that few people in the building even realized went in just over four minutes into overtime and the Blackhawks claimed their fourth Stanley Cup with a 4-3 win over Philadelphia at the Wachovia Center in Game 6.
They then matched up against the No. 6 Bruins, and no one in New England needs to be reminded that ‘ up three games to none and 3-0 in Game 7 on Garden ice ‘ the Bruins let the Flyers come back to tie and win Game 7 and the series, 4-3, on a power-play goal by Simon Gagne with the Bruins serving a penalty for too many men on the ice.
It was in Game 4 in overtime when Gagne scored his first goal back from injury to re-ignite the flame for the Flyers.
Three wins later it was the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern finals. The Habs proved little opposition for the Flyers, who prevailed in five games.
Then the Chicago Blackhawks. The team that hadn’t won the Stanley Cup since 1961 won a shootout, 6-5, in Game 1 and another one-goal game in Game 2, 2-1.
The Flyers showed their character by winning Game 3 again in overtime and handling Chicago 5-3 in Game 4. After a 7-4 loss in Game 5 the Flyers were again on the brink, down 3-2 with 3:59 left in regulation when Scott Hartnell scored to force ‘ yep ‘ another overtime.
This extra session would be the heartbreak of heartbreaks for the Flyers. A weak shot from Patrick Kane, almost an afterthought, was thrown on Michael Leighton. The goalie didn’t see it until it went under him and the lip of the goal on the right side.
“He walked out of the corner, and there was a guy driving the net so I thought he was going to pass it,” Leighton said. “He just threw it at the net and it went underneath me.”
Bang. Game over. Stanley Cup over. Team of Destiny denied.
But still, this Flyers team will have its fondest memories of one of the most remarkable playoff run in recent sports rooted in Boston.
It was at TD Garden on May 14 that the Flyers became just the fourth team in major professional sports to wipe out a 3-0 deficit and win a series and the first to overcome a 3-0 hole on the road in Game 7 to do so.
“Yeah, you look back at a lot of games throughout the whole season,” Hartnell said. “The way we got in, the way we came back against Boston to beat a great goalie and New Jersey and Montreal was on fire as well. We have to be proud to a certain point but certainly it’s disappointing, too.”
|06.09.10 at 10:02 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — After falling behind for the first time in the game, the Blackhawks showed the kind of determination that makes Stanley Cup champions. As a result, they took a 3-2 after 40 minutes and stand one period away from their first Stanley Cup title since 1961.
The Flyers broke a 1-1 tie when Ville Leino skated into the high slot after Duncan Keith fell down. Danny Briere skated down the right wing with Leino, who fed Briere for a wrist shot that beat Antti Niemi for his team-leading 12th goal of the playoffs.
But Chicago has outskated the Flyers from the get-go and that continued even when they were behind. The Hawks used the open ice of a 4-on-4 to get Patrick Sharp a shot from the low right circle and he didn’t miss, beating Michael Leighton 5-hole at 9:58 of the second period to tie the game.
Then Andrew Ladd redirected a Niklas Hjalmarsson slap shot from the left point to beat Leighton and the Wachovia Center fell quiet with 2:17 left in period.
The Hawks are 1-for-5 on the power play while the Flyers are 1-for-4 on the man-advantage.
|06.09.10 at 9:00 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — The Blackhawks played the opening 20 minutes like they wanted to end a 39-year championship drought.
The Chicagoans outshot the Flyers, 17-3, in the first 19 minutes and registered the first goal of the game on a very questionable high sticking call on Flyers defenseman and emotional leader Chris Pronger.
With Blair Betts on the ice with a broken stick, the Hawks took advantage of what essentially was a 5-on-3 when Dustin Byfuglien stuffed a shot past Michael Leighton at 16:49.
But it was evident the officials had some remorse for helping set up Chicago’s first goal as the Hawks were whistled for two penalties in the final three minutes of the period.
First, Brent Seabrook was called for elbowing with 3:01 left in the first. Then, just as the Hawks killed off that penalty, Brent Sopel was called for an interference penalty near his own blue line. Sensing the desperation, Danny Briere shot a puck from the left circle toward Scott Hartnell, who was just getting to his skates after getting shaken up. Hartnell collected the loose puck and put a backhander past Antti Niemi with just 26.5 seconds left in the period to tie the game.
The Flyers used the momentum to fire the last four shots of the period, getting outshot, 17-7, for the period.
|06.09.10 at 6:00 pm ET|
The Bruins have retained a key player (Dennis Seidenberg), a fan-favorite (Shawn Thornton) and are just over two weeks away from adding someone who could instantly become their most talented forward (Tyler Seguin or Taylor Hall). While everyone is focused on who’s staying and who’s being added, the Bruins’ bench may be in store for a subtraction.
Craig Ramsay, who has served as Claude Julien‘s assistant coach since the offseason following the 2006-2007 season, is a serious contender to become the Atlanta Thrasher’s head coach. The former Sabers left wing has already met with Thrashers GM Rick Dudley about filling the coaching void created when the 35-34-13 Thrashers opted not to bring back John Anderson.
A final decision may be a few days away, as Blackhawks assistant coach John Torchetti is a candidate but will not be interviewed until the conclusion of the Stanley Cup finals. Dudley believes that interviewing a coach while his team is chasing a cup is unfair to the coach’s current team, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Ramsay, in addition to having experience as head coach of both the Sabers (on an interim basis in ’86-’87) and Flyers (interim in ’99-’00, hired back but lasted just 28 games), won a Stanley Cup in ’04 while coaching alongside John Tortarella in Tampa Bay. Dudley, then the GM, hired his former NHL teammate in Ramsay back then, which makes for an easy connection now.
“The truth is John Tortorella is a volatile guy,” Dudley told the Journal Constitution. “He needed an intelligent guy to come in and know what his role had to be. We didn’t need another volatile guy in there. Craig softened all the blows there. When John undressed somebody, he would go and make them feel good again. He knew that was his role and he did it really well.’
The other candidates according to Journal Constitution writer Chris Vivlamore are Chicago Wolves (AHL) coach and former third overall pick Don Lever and Rockford IceHogs (AHL) coach Bill Peters. Scott Arniel was also viewed as an option but took the same position with the Blue Jackets.
|06.08.10 at 3:20 pm ET|
With just over two weeks to go until the NHL Draft, it has become a logical line of thinking to believe the Bruins would be quite risky to assume Windsor Spitfires left wing Taylor Hall will be available with the second overall pick. While either Hall or Plymouth Whalers center Tyler Seguin would be a blessing to the offense, there is no doubt that the Bruins could use a well-rounded winger more than they could use a center. The Edmonton Oilers, who hold the top pick in the draft, have needs all over the ice and will ultimately do what what they feel upgrades their team the most.
Here’s where the irony hits: This draft features the best offensive 1-2 punch since 2001, a class that starred left wing Ilya Kovalchuk and center Jason Spezza. Kovalchuk went first to the Atlanta Thrashers, Spezza went second to the Senators and each embarked upon their careers as NHL All-Stars. If the parallels aren’t apparent yet, recent chatter suggests it could be one of the ’01 stars that messes things up for the Bruins this month.
Spezza, whose contract will see a no-trade clause kick in on July 1, has reportedly grown frustrated with the Ottawa and may want out. While talk that he may have requested a trade could be nothing more than speculation, many have begun guessing where the center could call home next season. Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal, who Bruins fans should have bookmarked by now for a Hall of Fame Edmonton writer’s take on this draft, sees a potential gameplan for the Oiler’s offseason that “might solve the Taylor vs. Tyler debate.”
“Draft winger Taylor Hall on June 25 with their No. 1 pick at the NHL entry draft, pass on centre Tyler Seguin and trade for Spezza later.
The Senators would almost assuredly take the same three players that were on the table for winger Dany Heatley last summer ‘ Dustin Penner, Andrew Cogliano and Ladislav Smid ‘ in exchange for Spezza, who would become the Oilers’ much-needed first-line centre.”
There you have it. Both teams could afford to due that trade, as Matheson stacks the cap numbers against one another and calls the deal a “virtual wash.” The Oilers would see offensive improvement and have a top line that would be among the best in the NHL, while the Bruins would be improved with Seguin, but would enter the 2010-2011 season without a 30-plus-goal-scoring winger — again.
So what should the Bruins do? If Oilers GM Steve Tambellini targets Spezza, an offer of Blake Wheeler and the second pick isn’t exactly going to change his mind. In fact, if Edmonton can get both Spezza and Hall, the Oilers might even prefer that combo to a deal that included the second and 15th overall picks, which the Bruins likely wouldn’t want to do anyway.
The Bruins may have their hands tied. There is no logic in a wing-deprived team trading a wing or a top pick to move up one spot and one can’t assume the Oilers would even be interested in what the Bruins have to say. SensChirp is reporting the Bruins have interest in Spezza themselves and that the second pick “could be in play” but I would take that with an entire mound of salt. The reality is the team may just have to do two things: Hope Spezza is dealt elsewhere so the Oilers have a bigger shot of taking Seguin and convince themselves that potentially landing the Plymouth center is better than giving up a king’s ransom to secure Hall. For now, all anyone else can do is wait.
|06.05.10 at 12:58 pm ET|
Just three weeks after their season ended, the Bruins may already have taken care of one of their most pressing offseason concerns. The team announced Saturday that it has signed potential unrestricted free agent defenseman Dennis Seidenberg to a four-year deal worth a reported $13 million with an annual cap hit of $3.25 million.
Seidenberg played in just 17 games for the B’s after being acquired in a trade deadline deal with Florida on March 3. But during his brief tenure with the team, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound defenseman showcased solid physical play and the ability to generate offense from the blueline.
Generally skating with Zdeno Chara on the B’s top defensive pairing, the 28-year-old Seidenberg contributed two goals and seven assists for the Bruins and an impressive plus-nine rating. He generated an additional 23 points (2 goals, 21 assists) with Florida. His 32 total points and 28 assists for the season was the best offensive showing of his seven-year career.
The Bruins were 9-7-1 with Seidenberg in the lineup before he suffered a season-ending lacerated tendon in his forearm during a contest at Toronto on April 6.
By signing Seidenberg before July 1, the team avoided losing a top end defenseman to free agency. Boston is now assured that Chara, Seidenberg, Dennis Wideman, Matt Hunwick and Andrew Ference are locked in for next season.
Johnny Boychuk remains a potential unrestricted free agent on July 1, but has indicated he wants to stay in Boston.
Seidenberg and Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli will conduct a media conference call at 3 p.m. Saturday. Check back for updates.
|06.04.10 at 3:38 pm ET|
What you’re about to read may come as earth-shattering news, so you might want to sit down as you read this: The Boston Bruins like both Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin a lot and claim to not prefer one by a large margin. Deep breaths.
“I’ve been quoted as saying they’re really close and I’ll contnue to say that because that’s what they are for us,” Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Friday in a conference call with the media. “They were both very good interviews up in Toronto [at the NHL Scouting Combine] and I had a good meeting with the Seguins in Brampton and I certainly would anticipate the same with the Halls in Kingston.”
Chiarelli is planning to visit Hall’s parents in the next two weeks, but a source told WEEI.com this week that Hall will be with the Bruins this weekend meeting with Chiarelli and other front office members. Seguin will also visit Boston, a place he spoke highly of recently with WEEI.com, though it is unknown when he will make the trip.
The Bruins, who also choose 15th overall and have two selections in the second round, have been putting in more work than simply getting caught up in the Taylor/Tyler craze. There are plenty of players, whether they be Hall’s Windsor teammates in defenseman Cam Fowler and forward Austin Watson or whomever, who could fill serious needs with Boston.
“The fact that we have four picks in the first round and a half, you know, we always pay attention to these things but you’ve really got to focus in on your target guys and the guys that you want and where they should be slotted,” Chiarelli said.
“This is a deep draft, and I know you may hear that on a yearly basis but I’m more in touch with it this year because we have so many high picks. We’ll continue to bring some kids in and we’ll probably finish doing that halfway through next week.”
As for the Big Bad Board (had to make it less football-sounding somehow), are the Bruins set in stone on who they want with the second, or even 15th or 32nd picks for that matter? In a word, no.
“You tweak a little bit,” Chiarelli said. “You put the list up, you generate the list and then you reserve the right to change it based on testing interviews and then your smaller group gets together and you talk about the issues on certain players. It’s not firm until the morning of.”
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