Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Some Random Thoughts Before Game 6

By: Tim Brennan

As we get set to view what will be an extremely important Game 6 for both teams involved, I offer a few pieces of information along with thoughts about what has transpired prior to this pivotal and what will be exciting battle.

-The Flyers currently hold a record of 9-1 at home in the 2010 post season. Goaltender Michael Leighton has a stunning record while playing at the Wachovia Center of 6-0. Chicago's record on the road was 7-1 prior to the Stanley Cup Finals but now sits at 7-3.

-The home teams have won each of the first 5 games in this series. There are only 3 instances in National Hockey League history when a home team has won every game in the Stanley Cup Final (1955, 1965 and 2003).

-Flyers forward Ville Leino is three points away from breaking Dino Ciccarelli's record for most points by a rookie forward, which he did in 1981 for the Minnesota North Stars. Leino has tallied 7 goals and 12 assists for 19 points, which includes 3 goals and 4 assists in the Finals.

-Staying on the topic of Leino, does anyone else agree with me that he deserves to be nominated for the Conn Smythe?

-One of the most underrated efforts during these Finals has been the strong defensive play of Dave Bolland. Bolland has been matched up against Mike Richards and has limited the Flyers captain to only 2 assists. On top of that, Bolland has added 5 points of his own and has pestered Richards to no end.

-Is it just me or do the officials have a penchant for blowing the whistle when a goaltender is down and there is a mad scramble in front of the net to get the puck? It seems like anytime the puck is loose close to the net, a referee feels the need to blow the play dead. Why? I can't wrap my head around the fact that at least 6 different times in this series alone the referees have stopped play because they lost sight of the puck when it is clearly out in the open and the goalie hasn't covered it.

-The officials continue to miss penalties in this post season. It's a little ridiculous that not one penalty call was made during Game 1 against the Flyers. The continuous cross checks, head shots and hits away from the play have piled up and the guys in stripes should pay attention. Two high sticking incidents were missed when Chicago's Brian Campbell was clipped in the face but the culprit didn't go to the box. And the worst one being Duncan Keith's high stick of Danny Briere pictured above. The high stick was so violent that it cut Briere badly and play had to be stopped as he bled all over the ice. When it's late in a game, you would think these would be automatic calls.

-Also why does it seem that the wrong Blackhawks player gets called? Three instances have appeared in this post season alone, one of which coming in Game 4 when Patrick Sharp was called for slashing. That was a phantom call because Sharp did absolutely nothing on the play but when the replay is shown, you can see Tomas Kopecky in the background whacking Chris Pronger with his stick.

-The Flyers have bounced back from a bad loss quite well this post season. Philadelphia suffered a big loss to the New Jersey Devils in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals by a score of 5-3. Philly bounced back to beat the Devils 3-2 in overtime in Game 3 and would take the series in 5.

The Flyers fell behind in their semifinal series against Boston, who went up 3-0 and won Game 3 by a commanding 4-1 final. The "Bullies" were resilient in climbing back into the series and eventually winning, starting with a huge overtime victory in Game 5.

Montreal's first home game in the Conference Finals turned sour for the Flyers as they were manhandled 5-1. The team rallied together once again to beat the Canadiens in their own building with a 3-0 final in Game 4.

So Philadelphia is pretty strong coming out of a bad game so look for plenty of energy and grit from this Flyers team as they play before the faithful of the Wachovia Center.

-Chicago's big weapon during the playoffs, Jonathan Toews, has been hushed during the Finals, only posting 2 assists and gathering a minus 4 rating. Not exactly what you want from your leading scorer.

-The front page of yesterday's Chicago Tribune made a mockery of Chris Pronger, with a picture of him in a skirt and a headline that read "Chrissy Pronger". When asked about it, Pronger said, "I really don't care, I don't worry about that kind of stuff". Like this guy really needs any more motivation to take his anger out on the Blackhawks following a terrible performance in Game 5.

-Look for the Flyers to shake up the lines as Chicago did for Game 5. I wouldn't be surprised if Claude Giroux found himself on the top line with Mike Richards and Simon Gagne while Carter centered James van Riemsdyk and Arron Asham. If I was Peter Laviolette, I would demote Braydon Coburn to the third pairing and use Lukas Krajicek with Kimmo Timonen. Krajicek was a plus 2 while only playing 9 minutes in a game where Philadelphia surrendered 7 goals.

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