|Gagne for Thomas? ‘No.’||06.25.10 at 4:32 pm ET|
Amidst rumors that the Flyers are looking to shed payroll in order to take on Tim Thomas‘ contract, a source close to the situation is saying talk that Simon Gagne could be swapped to the Bruins for the goaltender is bogus.
“This is not an accurate rumor at all,” the source said.
Salary-wise, it makes sense, as Gagne will carry a $5.25 million cap hit next season, the final year of his deal, while Thomas has three years remaining at $5 million per season. On the ice, however, such a move could upset Flyers fans. Gagne can be counted on for 30 goals a season and is just 30 years old, while Thomas, 36, lost his starting job last season to Tuukka Rask.
The left-winger made a major impression on the Bruins in the postseason this past postseason, scoring in overtime in Game 4, adding two goals in Game 5, and slipping the series-winning goal past Rask in the third period of Game 7.
Gagne was hampered by groin injuries throughout the season and was limited to 58 games. He scored 17 goals and had 23 assists for 40 points after having 34-40-74 totals a year prior.
|Simon the Bruins-killer||05.14.10 at 11:29 pm ET|
From the moment he took the ice in Game 4, Simon Gagne was the unquestionable difference in the series. The Flyers got their best sniper back in the lineup and it paid immediate dividends when he scored the biggest goal of the series, the overtime game-winner in Game 4 that gave the Flyers a flicker of hope.
By the time he scored the go-ahead power play goal on Friday night in Game 7, the Bruins’ Stanley Cup dreams were completely up in smoke.
Gagne came back from an injured toe and collect four goals and an assist in four games, the final four of the series as the Flyers made history.
Gagne, the hero of Game 7 and of the series for the Flyers, said after Philadelphia’s 4-3 win in Game 7 that nerves may have played a role in the too many men on the ice penalty that led to the series-deciding goal.
‘We expected them to come very hard and they did,” Gagne said of Boston’s 3-0 lead in the opening 15 minutes of the game. “Our mistake was maybe taking bad penalties early on, two goals on the power play. It’s not the start you want. After that third goal, we had a timeout and said, ‘Let’s just play one goal at a time and focus on scoring the first goal.’
‘After that we were sure they would start questioning themselves a little bit and then we went for the second one and then were able to tie the game. I’m sure at that point they started to get nervous on their side and you know what, sometimes you’re nervous and you make mistakes and then they had too many men on the ice and that might be our chance to win the game and we did,’ Gagne said.
The Flyers open the Eastern Conference finals Sunday in Philadelphia against the Canadiens.
|Flyers help Bruins make dubious history||at 9:33 pm ET|
Summary — The Flyers became just the third team in the history of the National Hockey League to come back from a 3-0 series deficit and win a seven-game series, in the process coming back from a 3-0 first-period hole to score four straight goals to advance to the Eastern Conference finals with a 4-3 win over the Bruins at TD Garden on Friday night.
Tuukka Rask was the loser for Boston, allowing the four Flyers goals on 27 shots. Michael Leighton overcame a shaky first period to put the clamps down on the Bruins season with 25 saves. Simon Gagne scored the game-winner at 12:52 in the third period on the power play after the B’s were whistled for too many men on the ice.
The Bruins struck first (and, for that matter, second and third), jumping to an early lead eight seconds into a power play after Scott Hartnell went to the box for a high sticking call on Matt Hunwick in the neutral zone at 5:18 in the first period. Boston wasted no time, controlling the puck on the face off and getting a couple attempts on Leighton. The second — of the stick of Zdeno Chara — rebounded down to the right dot, where Michael Ryder sent it right back on the crease past a hopping Mark Recchi and the Bruins were off and running at 5:27.
Boston made it 2-0, again on the power play, at 9:02 when a broken rush through the neutral zone ended up in a reset by Dennis Wideman, who decided to take it all the way down the right wing into the corner and send it back towards the crease where Milan Lucic timed his crash perfectly to bang it past Leighton for the two-goal advantage before the first period was halfway over.
Leighton would let in a third straight Boston goal at at 14:10 as Lucic struck again when he turned a giveaway into a lamplighter when he rushed all the way down the right wing and let off a snap shot by the right faceoff dot that went five-hole and made TD Garden erupt.
But the Flyers, remarkably, refused to concede defeat. James Van Riemsdyk fought hard to the right of Rask, leveling Wideman and getting a broken-play dribbler under the net minder’s left pad for a soft goal that made it 3-1 at 17:12 in the first. It was Van Riemsdyk’s first career playoff goal in his second professional season (first in the NHL) coming out of the University of New Hampshire.
The Flyers made it a one-goal game early in the second period on an even strength play where Danny Briere was able to penetrate the Rask’s crease after Ville Leino put the puck deep. Briere did a spin-o-rama and put the puck across the crease, where Andrew Ference could not put a stick on it at the goal line and Scott Hartnell flipped it back over Rask at 2:49.
The comeback was complete when Briere struck on his own, this time with the assist from Hartnell at 8:39 of the second period. Briere came back down around the net and did a wrap-around on Rask that rattled through the net and back out the other side to tie the game at three. The play was reviewed but it was conclusive that Briere had put the puck in the net and Boston had relinquished another 3-0 lead in the series.
Simon Gagne — His Game 4 return from a broken toe made all the difference for the Flyers in this series as he scored his second game-winner of the series to complete the series comeback.
Danny Briere — Perpetual thorn in the Bruins side was instrumental in getting the Flyers back in the game as his goal and assist in the second period were the answer Philadelphia was looking for after it went down 3-0 in the first.
Milan Lucic — Two first period goals got TD Garden pumping as the Boston forward set the stage for the excitement that was to come.
Turning Point – When Briere and Hartnell teamed up to take over in the second period. The pair was able to bring the Flyers back from the brink as the Bruins went soft in front of Rask. The wily center and his large wingman were able to get deep into the crease twice to tie the game and give the Flyers a chance to win it in the third period.
Key Play — The Bruins took a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty at 11:10 of the third period, which set the Flyers up to score the go-ahead goal by Gagne when he found the puck on the right dot in front of Rask for the wrist shot top shelf to bury Boston and its Stanley Cup dreams once and for all.
|Bruins self destruct in Game 5 loss to Flyers||05.10.10 at 9:33 pm ET|
Summary ‘ The Flyers will be going home with their season still alive after taking care of the Bruins 4-0 on Monday in Game 5. Tuukka Rask gave up four goals on 31 shots en route to his second straight loss of the series after winning the first three contests. The series shifts back to Philadelphia on Wednesday as the Bruins have two more chances to try and put the Flyers away to advance to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 1992.
Brian Boucher started in net for the Flyers, but only played in for 24:31 and left the game in the second period after getting his leg pinned back in a scrum in front of the net and having to be helped off the ice. Boucher stopped all nine Bruins shots he faced and left the game with a 1-0 lead. Michael Leighton replaced Boucher and made his first career NHL playoff appearance as well as his first appearance in a game since March 16. Leighton stopped the rest of the Bruins 14 shots to share the first combined shutout of the Bruins in a playoff game since Montreal did it in 1955.
The Flyers got on the board first as Ville Leino’s hard work in the series was rewarded when he slammed home a rebound that Rask left in the slot off a shot from the point by Chris Pronger at 6:41 in the first. It was the second goal of the postseason for Leino. The goal was originally charged to Scott Hartnell but changed to Leino after review in between the first and second periods.
The same Philadelphia line struck again in the second when a blocked shot in the slot in front of Rask led to a loose puck getting throw towards the crease. That’s where Danny Briere caught it at the corner and tried to flip it passed Rask and Hartnell was on the other side to ram home the oscillating puck to make it 2-0 at 11:16. It was Hartnell’s first goal of the playoffs after scoring 14 during the regular season.
After Steve Begin went for a boarding call on Claude Giroux at 17:00, Simon Gagne scored his second of the playoffs on the power play in the second. Gagne got the puck on a rebound from Mike Richards and Leino putting the puck on Rask and got the easy put back to make it 3-0 at 17:53.
Gagne struck again to really put the game out of reach at 6:48 in the third period when Dennis Wideman could not control a back pass at the blue line as the puck slid through him into neutral ice while he dropped his stick. Gagne chased the puck down, easily eluding Wideman’s attempt to box him out and took the breakaway straight on Rask for an easy score to make it 4-0.
Ville Leino — Has been the hardest-working member of the Flyers the past two games and it showed on the scoreboard on Monday with a goal and an assist.
Simon Gagne — The forward played in his second game of the series after toe surgery at the end of the Flyers quarterfinals series against the Devils and has three goals, including two in Game 5, since his return.
Brian Boucher/Michael Leighton — The Bruins did the goaltenders a bunch of favors on the night but they still combined to shutdown the Bruins offense for most of the night to take the game back to Philadelphia for Game 6 on Wednesday. It was the first combined shutout for the Flyers in their playoff history.
Turning Point — Boucher had only seen nine shots before Leighton replaced him and it looked like a golden opportunity for the Bruins to climb back into it. But Hartnell scored about six minutes later and Gagne added the demoralizer on the power play late in the second period as the Flyers took control of the game.
Key Play — Gagne’s goal was the first power play goal Philadelphia scored since Game 1 and came after the Bruins had killed the first five power plays the Flyers had on the night. The three-goal lead would be too much for Boston to overcome on en route to its second straight loss in the series.
|Flyers stay alive with Game 4 OT victory||05.07.10 at 10:12 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — The Flyers kept their season alive and got a digit in the win column in the Eastern Conference semifinals as they beat Boston 5-4 in overtime of Game 4 at the Wachovia Center on Friday evening. Simon Gagne scored the game-winner in the extra frame to keep Philadelphia’s Stanley Cup hopes alive. Brian Boucher got his first win of the series and stopped Tuukka Rask’s four-game playoff winning streak in the process to force a Game 5 in Boston on Monday.
The Flyers were up by a goal by Ville Leino late in the third period and looked like they would squeak out the win after Boston came back from a two-goal deficit to tie it a three but Mark Recchi scored an empty-net goal with 31.5 seconds left in the game to send it to overtime.
Boston took the early lead for the third time in the four games as Mark Recchi recorded his fifth strike of the playoffs at 15:37 in the first period. The play was set up by strong play from Dennis Wideman and Daniel Paille through the netural zone that set up center Patrice Bergeron on a partial break on Boucher. Bergeron got off a weak shot but Boucher had committed on the ice and was forced to deflect the puck back into the slot with his side while laying on his side. Recchi was following Bergeron on the play and flipped it high for the 1-0 advantage.
The Flyers came back on during a 4-on-4 after Scott Hartnell and Vladimir Sobotka went to the box with matching roughing penalties at 18:06 in the first. Defenseman Matt Carle rushed down the left wing and slipped the puck through the high slot to the stick of Claude Giroux who was skating on a parallel line with Danny Briere. Giroux slowed up and tapped the puck to Briere who sent a snap shot on Rask that found its way to the back of the net to tie it at 19:06.
The Flyers took the lead with two goals in the second period, the first time in the series that they have had a two-goal advantage over the Bruins. Chris Pronger scored the first when he took a slap shot from the high slot that deflected off of defenseman Mark Stuart’s skate and zipped passed Rask at 4:28 to make it 2-1. Giroux made it 3-1 when he crashed the net as Scott Hartnell was battling on the elbow of the crease to dislodge the puck from a tie-up against the post. Hartnell was able to kick it through the crease and Giroux slammed it home at 8:35.
Boston got back to within a goal at 10:56. Michael Ryder took a slap shot from the high slot that went wide of Boucher’s net and rebounded off the end wall back to the corner of the crease. Boucher went to cover but Vladimir Sobotka crashed the goalie and hit the glove to dislodge the puck and squirt it through Boucher’s legs to get Boston back with a goal.
The Bruins would tie it back up at three early in the third on the power play. Dennis Wideman took a wrist shot from the left point that he elevated to Milan Lucic’s hip as the forward was camped in the slot in front of Boucher. Lucic got an eek of a tip on the puck to deflect it through the crease at 3:49.
Chris Pronger — Had a goal and a big assist on the game-winner to keep his team playing hockey in the month of May.
Claude Giroux — The sophomore forward helped the Flyers create offense with a goal and an assist to give him nine points through the playoffs.
Mark Recchi — The game-tying goal was simply amazing as the veteran and future Hall of Famer added another chapter to his legacy.
Turning Point – Lucic’s tip was set up by a Flyers penalty to Ville Leino for hooking at 2:59 in the third period. The Flyers had held the Bruins scoreless through their first two power play attempts of the game but Boston was able to settle the puck in its third attempt and cycle it to the point where Wideman could wind up and fire. Lucic was in decent position in the slot and shot the shaft of his stick on it, enough to get it passed Boucher. The goal made the game competitive again until late in the Recchi sent it to overtime.
Key Play – Recchi’s game-tying goal will be one of those moments that goes down in NHL playoff lore. He could have one-timed the shot off the stick of Patrice Bergeron but stopped, held it for a moment, let Boucher get out of position and flipped it top shelf to send the game to an extra frame.
|Morning notes: Gagne a game-time decision||at 1:55 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — The Broad Street faithful are hoping to see one of their old friends on the ice at the Wachovia Center on Friday and hope that he will be able to continue their season, if only just a little bit longer.
Simon Gagne will be a game-time decision for Game 4 after having surgery on a broken toe on April 23 after the fourth game of the quarterfinals against the Devils. Gagne skated at the Flyers practice facility in Vorhees, NJ on Thursday but did not take part in Philadelphia’s morning Friday. He was the only Flyers player to [officially] address the media before Game 4 and said that he will take part in warmups and consult with the athletic trainer and doctors before making a decision on whether or not he will play.
“There is no need right now to go out there and skate. I am going to wait in my warmup and put all the chance on my side and decide from there,” Gagne said.
Gagne had an MRI on the toe on Thursday after practice to make sure it had not moved or been displaced during the skate. All results were OK and now it just seems like how much pain he can withstand and how much the injury will allow him to contribute.
“I am going to have to talk to the trainer after warmup and tell him how I feel and get the call from the doctor,” Gagne said. “I talked to him yesterday and we went and got that MRI and we talked a little bit about what I have to look for to be able to play. Do, like I said, I need to get ready for warmup and we will chat with Jimmy [McCrossin — athletic trainer] after warmup and then we will decide if we are good to go.”
Coach Peter Laviolette said in his morning news conference that the emotional benefit from getting a player back is fleeting when it comes to the work it takes to win a hockey game. He would talk nothing of assumptions concerning whether or not Gagne would play or what his minutes would be other than to say that he probably would not spend much time on the penalty kill.
“When the players return I think there has to be more than the bang that you might get in the first minute,” Laviolette said. “There is so much work that has to be done throughout the course of the game and even when a player, when he does return, I think it is important that they are contributing factors. Maybe you get a quick boost but there is a lot of work to be done. Boston won’t put a lot of stock into a player when he returns to the lineup.”
The Flyers are going to need all the help they can get if they want to climb back into this series. Gagne admitted that a Game 4 timetable was not on his mind, he figured, at best, Game 5, perhaps later in the series. A player has to do what a player has to do. It is playoff hockey.
“To be honest with you, I was looking toward Game 5 or maybe the end of the series, but I started to actually feel pretty good before Game 3,” Gagne said. “It is the playoffs and right now we are against the wall and we have to win and we are not allowed to lose any games. It is right there and if I feel good enough to play, I will be there.”
Laviolette expects the Flyers to play to win Friday night, regardless of the status of Simon Gagne. He went so far as to say that the pressure had shifted to the Bruins, which is not all that unreasonable. The fourth game is always the hardest to claim. Boston found that out in Game 5 of the quarterfinals against the Sabres.
“I would expect us to play a really good hockey game,” Laviolette said. “We had a good practice yesterday, had a good meeting. Our backs are up against the wall but the pressure really shifts to Boston at this point, not so much on us. I would think our guys are going to come out with one heck of an effort tonight.”
Morning notes — The Bruins had a full team practice while only a couple Flyers took part in the morning skate, reversed from the situation on Thursday we Philadelphia had a full team practice and the Boston had a workout day (in Bruins parlance, that means they played soccer in the hallway of the Wachovia center). Shawn Thornton did not skate for the Bruins and coach Claude Julien said that “he exercised his option” on whether to skate or not. An interesting choice for a player who does not have a contract after the season ends. Trent Whitfield is the probably replacement for David Krejci in the Bruins lineup as Julien likes the idea of having five true centermen in the lineup but the decision between him and Brad Marchand will be made after warmups.
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