|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.
|David Krejci gets last laugh on the Flyers in Game 1||at 8:21 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — Maybe trash talking is all it took for David Krejci to rediscover his playoff mojo. That, and some really bad defense and goaltending.
While the Flyers were playing atrocious defense in front of Brian Boucher, they were also letting their big mouths do some talking, so said the Bruins forward, who got the scoring underway less than two minutes into Game 1 Saturday.
Krejci said the Flyers were reminding him that the last time he was in Philadelphia for a playoff game, he suffered an injury that changed the momentum of the series.
Krejci broke his wrist in Game 3 of the series last year, a game the Bruins won, 4-1. But Boston lost its top center – and momentum – as the Flyers came back to win four straight.
“The guys from the other team, they let me know in the first period about last year,” Krejci said. “But I tried to forget about those things. This is a new year, new season, new series. We have so many new players on our team. Half of the guys didn’t even experience it last year so we didn’t talk about it that much.
“This is a new season and we were just focused for tonight’s game.”
Krejci – who scored twice and added an assist in Saturday’s 7-3 romp over the Flyers- said he wasn’t thrown off by the comments.
“There was yapping back and forth, so they kind of let me know but you have stay focused and I think that’s what we did,” Krejci said.
But certainly the temptation is to think what might have been for all Bruins players, coaches, management, equipment personnel and anyone else who follows the spoked-B. If Krejci doesn’t take that hit at center ice, most believe the Bruins dispatch of the Flyers and it’s the B’s – not Philly – in the Cup finals against Chicago.
Was the thought in Krecji’s head and did it motivate him to come out and have a strong game in the opener?
‘I try not to think about what happened last year but it’s in the back of my head,” Krejci said. “You don’t forget these things that often but I try not to think about it almost at all. It’s hard but I just try to stay focused for the game and my teammates helped me out today.’
The first shot Krejci took – the first shot any Bruin took – resulted in a goal on a shaken Boucher just 1:52 into the game.
Read the rest of this entry »
|Claude Julien: We don’t need to change ‘a ton’ for the Flyers||04.29.11 at 2:06 pm ET|
Before the team left Boston for Philadelphia Friday, Bruins head coach Claude Julien said the Flyers are a better match up for his team than the Canadiens were in the first round. The Bruins captured three of the four meetings in the regular season and were even able to score on the power play four times, something they failed to do in 21 tries in the opening round.
“We match up well against them and they’re always close in tight games and we got to go in there with some confidence and obviously some determination,” Julien said. “Playoffs is a different situation than the regular season, but again as I mentioned it’s just one of those things that we feel that we don’t have to change a ton of things. And if there’s adjustments to make along the way, we just have to be prepared to make them.”
The Flyers, however, did not have big defenseman Chris Pronger at their disposal in the last meeting on March 27 in Philadelphia as he was still healing from the effects of a broken hand.
“He’s an experienced guy, a guy who has got good size as well and has got a good shot,” Julien said. “I know he certainly hadn’t used it much when he’s come back now. Whether he’s 100 percent, we don’t know, and it really shouldn’t matter to us.
“But he’s been a big part of their power play and when you get a guy like that back, it’s no doubt that it’s a boost for their hockey club and certainly helps. So we’ve just got to continue I guess playing the way we have been against them for most of the year this year. I thought we played them well and we came out with three wins, and I think we had the overtime loss.”
The Bruins’ only loss to the Flyers came with three seconds left in overtime on Dec. 11 at TD Garden when Mike Richards beat Tim Thomas with a wrist shot. The Bruins also showed they can win all sorts of games against Philly, 3-0, in Philly on Dec. 1, 7-5 in a Garden shootout on Jan. 13 and 2-1 on Brad Marchand’s goal late on March 27. The Bruins also appear to have the clear advantage in goal with Thomas starting all seven games of their series against Montreal while Brian Boucher was one of three different Philadelphia netminders to see action against Buffalo. Read the rest of this entry »
|Hockey writers realize Zdeno Chara is still one of the best in the game||04.25.11 at 1:27 pm ET|
On Monday, Chara was named one of three finalists for the Norris Trophy, given annually to the top defenseman in the NHL – the third time in four seasons that the Bruins captain has been so recognized.
Chara, who won the award in 2009, led the league with a plus-33 rating and recorded 44 points, including 14 goals and 30 assists.
“I think, obviously, he’s a well-deserving player,” Julien said. “There are a lot of reasons. I think everyone who knows him here knows he plays a lot of minutes. He also always plays against other team’s top lines. He’s utilized as a shutdown D against the top players on other teams. The stats at the end of the year, I think he’s a plus-30 something, plus-33, and I think that speaks for itself. And double digits in goals, and certainly, offensively, he’s contributed well.
“So, if you’re talking about the Norris and talking about a defenseman that brings a lot, he’s certainly. And I don’t think there are many players in this league who will raise their hand and say they really enjoy playing against him.”
Chara has bigger concerns on his plate right now, like closing out the Canadiens in Game 6 Tuesday night, but he did show sincere appreciation after Monday’s practice at TD Garden for being recognized.
“It’s obviously a big honor and I’m very humbled and very thankful, especially after you consider how many guys had such a great season – breakout seasons.” Chara said. “I’m just very thankful that people who did vote recognize the definition of the Norris Trophy award. And obviously, a big thank you goes to all the people who helped me get there, especially my teammates, all those in the organization, and obviously, my family and fans.
Chara consistently faces the opposing team’s top offensive line, something that makes him one of the most reliable players in black and gold.
“That’s something I take a lot of pride in,” Chara said. “I’m very competitive when it comes to defending the top lines and playing top lines. I know that it’s not an easy job, but I get up to it every night. You can’t think that it’s just you. Yeah, it’s a big motivation for me every night to face such skill and great players.”
Chara – who has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro for fun – takes as much pride as anyone in his off-season training that year-in, year-out puts him among the finest conditioned athletes in not only hockey but the world. Monday, in the wake of another Norris nomination, he pointed to that training regiment as a big reason for his continued success.
“To me, the first priority is hard work,” Chara said. “I always like to work extremely hard on and off the ice. I’m very competitive, I’m very motivated to play against top lines and the best players every night. I take a lot of pride in that, and I just want to help the team as much as I can to win. That was always my first thing. I always want to put the team in front of egos or individual goals.
“To me, that’s the most important thing, and everything else will fall into place. I know I’m not the extremely skilled defenseman who’s going to put probably 70 points on the board every year. But I know that if I play my game, I give my team a good chance to win hockey games. That’s all I can do.”
Joining Chara as finalists are Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom and Nashville’s Shea Weber. The three were voted as finalists by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, and the names were released Monday by the league.
The winner will be announced June 22 during the 2011 NHL awards ceremony in Las Vegas.
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