|Why Tim Thomas vs. James van Riemsdyk is the best show in this series||05.04.11 at 11:15 am ET|
One player nearly evened the series by himself. The other put on perhaps the best pressure goaltending performance of these Stanley Cup playoffs.
James van Riemsdyk had to settle for scoring twice and watching his Flyers fall into another 2-0 hole against the Bruins while dominating every shift he was on the ice.
Tim Thomas saved 52 of 54 shots, including all 10 in overtime, as he single-handedly made sure van Riemsdyk and the Flyers came to Boston in another desperate situation.
Tonight, the two of them will be asked by their teammates to keep it up in this Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Looking back at Game 2, there were several moments that could have put an entirely different perspective on Game 3 tonight. If JVR beats Thomas with six minutes remaining in regulation on a break in on net, the Flyers win. If JVR beats Thomas on a phenomenal shot off a faceoff with just over four seconds remaining in regulation, the Flyers win. If Thomas doesn’t make a save on Philly’s No. 21 on a clean look from the left circle 10 minutes into OT, the Flyers win.
Thomas was ready for every possible scenario on Monday, including that dramatic end of regulation, which also saw Danny Briere miss by a hair of putting Thomas’ save on van Riemsdyk into the net for the game-winner.
‘This is one of the most dangerous faceoff teams in the offensive zone or our defensive zone that we play against,” Thomas said. “They have a lot of different things that they do. They actually already scored once this series in the first game on a play. So I knew even with a few seconds left that the faceoff could be dangerous.
“The way it worked out it came off the faceoff and for just a second there it went behind a screen for me and I found it just as the guy was throwing the first shot to the net but I saw it so late that I couldn’t control the rebound. I saw the rebound go over to Danny Briere’s feet and in that one hundredth of a second I thought it might be over because he’s one of those guys that gets them and you know. He fumbled it for just a second, just long enough for Seidenberg to dive over and block one. I was still waiting for that buzzer and I don’t know if by the time it hit me if the buzzer had gone off or not but it was relief when the buzzer happened.’ Read the rest of this entry »
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The Bruins and Flyers are back in Boston for Game 3 tonight at TD Garden (7 p.m.) and there’s no extended wait between Games 2 and 3 like there is with the Celtics and Heat. And that’s probably a good thing on many levels for the Bruins.
There’s little time to think about being up two games in the series, having dominated the Flyers in pretty much every aspect of the game – except the power play, of course. There’s little time to answer questions about what it’s like being on the flip side of the 2-0 equation just one series after wiping out the deficit and beating the Canadiens in seven games.
These Bruins aren’t about to complain about being up two games despite losing to the Flyers in a similar position last year and overcoming the 0-2 hole in the last round.
‘Well it’s good to be on the other side this round,” Game 2 hero David Krejci said. “We can control our own things and bring it back to our building. We are going to use our fans as our seventh player and just go out there and take it game by game. Hopefully we can win the third one and go from there.’
‘Like Dave said, it’s better to be on this end,” added Tim Thomas, who stopped 52 of 54 shots Monday, including all 10 in OT. “We do know from the way that we were able to come back last series though that a 2-0 lead in a series doesn’t mean that the series is over. We still have a lot of work in front of us. As long as we take the same approach one game at a time, one period at a time, one shift at a time I think that’s the right approach. So that’s the way we will approach it going forward.’
2010 met 2011 in the post-game following Game 2 when a reporter asked Bruins coach Claude Julien if he realizes how tenuous a two-game lead can be. Sure, it’s a great spot to be in heading home but the Bruins know what the Canadiens did.
‘Well, you know, it is a nice position to be in, especially when you win the first two on the road,” Julien said. “There is no doubt that it is the perfect scenario for the first two games on the road, but we are not thinking about that. We are thinking about this year. Probably half the players were not even here last year, so we can bring up whatever we want. Our goal here is to focus on what is happening this year. What happened last year is last year, so it hasn’t really been on our minds. We have absolutely learned from that. We are using those kinds of things as a learning tool.
‘They took a two to nothing lead and we never gave up. I believe teams that make is this far are teams that have a lot of character. We know they are not going to give up, and we know has what happened with this team. They are capable of bouncing back just as they did in the last round, so we have to be ready for them. We need to understand that the second half of tonight’s game was not good enough for this hockey club. We hold ourselves responsible for higher standards, and we are going to have to be better.’
|After losing a pair on home ice, Peter Laviolette plays a psychological card on the Bruins||05.03.11 at 12:14 am ET|
PHILADELPHIA — After his team fell into an 0-2 hole with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Bruins Monday night, Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette attempted to play a psychological card on the Bruins. Simply put, Laviolette said all the pressure is on Boston to advance now that that have a stranglehold on the series for the second straight year.
‘We have to go into Boston and win one hockey game,” Laviolette said. “Going to the well is not an easy thing to do. It’s a difficult thing to do and we did it last series and we did it last year against Boston. When you lose your first two games in your home building, I would say there’s a real expectation for the Bruins to win the series now. So it relieves us of the pressure, I believe, a little bit to just go in and play a game in Boston. And while it relieves us of the pressure, it certainly mounts onto them to be successful now that they have a 2-0 lead.”
The Flyers came back from 3-2 down against the Sabres in the first round while the Bruins overcame losing the first two games to the Canadiens on their home ice to advance. Laviolette went as far as to guarentee that his team would play well enough in Games 3 and 4 in Boston to bring the series back to Philadelphia for a Game 5 this Sunday.
‘I really like our guys,” Laviolette said. “I think we’re going to go into Boston, we’re going to play a strong hockey game, we’re going to win a game. This team never quits. We get to remove some of that pressure right now and just go play, have some fun and see if we can score some more goals than we did tonight. I truly believe this team still has a lot of fight in it.’
|Paul Holmgren confirms: Chris Pronger is out for Game 2||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.
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.”
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.
|Peter Laviolette won’t take another shot at Brian Boucher||04.30.11 at 8:56 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — Flyers coach Peter Laviolette did something after his team’s 7-3 humiliation at the hands of the Bruins that his forwards and defensemen failed to do. He came to the aid of Brian Boucher.
For the fourth time in the last eight playoff games, Laviolette has resorted to the desperate move of pulling a goalie. That isn’t stunning. That is downright shocking for a team with Stanley Cup aspirations. Is he concerned that he’s had to do it so often?
‘Certainly you don’t want to do that but tonight I think that just based on the way we played in front of our goaltender, we as a team deserve all of the responsibility as far as that goes,” Laviolette said. “But, it certainly is not where you want to be.”
So what was the coverage problem? Was it being out of position, or effort in front of the net?
‘I’d say it was a combination of both,’ he said. “It wasn’t very good tonight, the defensive play. Especially, you know, right in front of our goaltender. Too many easy goals, too many easy plays, we weren’t strong enough right in front of our goaltender.’
The Flyers were coming off a 5-2 win over the Sabres in Game 7 Tuesday night and seemed to have rediscovered their mojo a bit – the same feeling that had them sitting on top of the Eastern Conference for most of the season until a late-season swoon that dropped them to second in the standings.
‘Well we weren’t very good tonight, you know,” Laviolette. “We come off one of our strongest performances in a while, come out and you know we don’t have a good game. That was not the way we need to play in order to be successful, so there’s lots of things that can change; actually everything’s got to change, everything’s got to improve. So, we’ll work on that.’
The Flyers will have Sunday to figure it out. But if the Flyers don’t bring it with more intensity Monday night, the Bruins – including David Krejci will roll over them again.
Laviolette knows this. That’s why when he was asked after the game what made Krejci’s line so successful, he had a short but fair answer.
‘Most of their lines had success against us,’ Laviolette said, before thanking everyone for showing up. He hopes his players do Monday night.
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