Don't forget about the Philadelphia Flyers

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Briere.jpgWhat the Montreal Canadiens have been able to do so far in the
playoffs is certainly tremendous. They’re the eighth seed in the East
and have taken out the two darlings of the NHL, the Pittsburgh Penguins
and the Washington Capitals.

No more Sid. No more Ovi. All thanks
to the Canadiens.

But we can’t forget about the Philadelphia
Flyers have the chance to accomplish.

The Flyers were a team
that everyone wrote off at the end of the season, as they needed a
shootout win just to make the playoffs and were playing with an injury
depleted team with Brian Boucher in net. While they’d never admit it,
I’m sure there was even a number of Flyers fans certain that their team
didn’t have much hope in the postseason.

Now, after a relatively
easy win against the New Jersey Devils in round one, the Flyers are on
the doorstep of making history. It’s an improbable scenario that no one
could have seen coming, especially with how the Boston Bruins played in
the first three games. Only two teams in the history of the NHL have
come back from being down 3-0 in a series to win, and the Flyers have
all the momentum heading into tomorrow night’s Game 7 showdown.

They’re
receiving big play from the players they need it most from, no more so
than what’s happened with Daniel Briere in the second round. He’s done
nothing but play better and more dominant as the series has progressed
and last night was a difference maker for his team in a game that was
likely much closer than expected.

The Flyers have been able to
find success with an incredible amount of injuries to key players, with
Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne and Dan Carcillo all being affected by
injuries. Gagne’s early return with a broken toe helped to spark the
Flyers in Game 4 and now the team has Michael Leighton in net after
Brian Boucher was likely lost for the playoffs.

Successful teams
in the playoffs are able to overcome injuries and whatever adversity
comes their way, rarely able to just roll over the competition on their
way to the Stanley Cup. No one expected the Flyers to get this far and
yet here we are, on the eve of a historic Game 7 that could propel the
team into perhaps the most unexpected Conference finals matchup we’ve
ever seen in the NHL.

The Flyers are a hungry team now, feeling
the momentum build as they collected three wins in a row. They know that
Game 6 is just another win and all that matters is what happens on
Friday night. From
CSN Philly:

The real test for Briere and his
teammates will come Friday in
Boston, when the Flyers’ playoff fate will be decided. They are the
first team since the 1975 New York Islanders to force a Game 7 after
being down 3-0 in a series.

But, Briere said, that isn’t what
he’s after.

“That’s not good enough,” Briere said. “I want to be
part of that three teams that came all the way back and clinched. We
know what’s at stake, and it’s very special.”

Former NHLer LaCouture pleads not guilty to assaulting woman

PHILADELPHIA - JANUARY 19: Dan LaCouture #28 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the game against the Philadelphia Flyers on January 19, 2006 at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Bruins won 5-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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BARNSTABLE, Mass. (AP) A former NHL player has pleaded not guilty to charges he assaulted a woman in Massachusetts over the weekend.

The Cape Cod Times reports Daniel LaCouture appeared Tuesday in Barnstable District Court on charges of assault and battery and vandalizing property.

Police responded just after 6 p.m. Saturday to a house in Centerville, where they say the 39-year-old LaCouture hid underneath a vehicle in the home’s driveway before confronting the victim and striking her in the collarbone.

LaCouture is due back in court July 15.

A phone number listed for LaCouture in online public records was disconnected.

LaCouture made his NHL debut with Edmonton in 1999. The forward had 20 goals and 25 assists in 337 career games with six NHL teams.

He is one of dozens of plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against the NHL over concussion-related injuries.

A better start is key for Sharks in Game 2

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It’s easy to suggest that perhaps the San Jose Sharks got caught up with some nerves during the first period of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final versus the Pittsburgh Penguins.

After all, this is a franchise that, after well-documented playoff shortfalls, is playing in the championship series for the first time. The Pittsburgh Penguins, on the other hand, well they’ve been here before — seven years ago.

Sharks’ defenseman Brent Burns conceded that his team may have been overwhelmed at first, outshot 15-4 in the opening 20 minutes, before eventually getting back on track in the middle of the game.

The result was a two-goal deficit, as the Penguins jumped into the lead. San Jose fought back, but ultimately lost on a late Nick Bonino goal.

The Sharks, of course, have stressed getting out to a better start, and that what happened Monday can be a learning experience, as they look to even the series in Game 2 on Wednesday.

“We were excited to play. We felt we were ready. Then at the start, we didn’t execute the way we needed to. We try to take that lesson and learn from it,” Joe Pavelski told reporters on Tuesday.

“Hopefully we can have a better start. Obviously it’s exciting to be here. I don’t know if it’s your first time or your fifth time, I’m sure it’s exciting every time. So we’ll learn from that game and hopefully have a better start.”

 

Bears face Monsters for the AHL’s Calder Cup

MILWAUKEE - JUNE 15:  Chris Bourque #17 of the Hershey Bears kisses the Calder Cup after the Hershey Bears defeated the Milwaukee Admirals in game six of the AHL Calder Cup Finals on June 15, 2006 at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Bears defeated the Admirals 5-1 in game six to win the AHL Calder Cup. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The Hershey Bears and Lake Erie Monsters will play for the 2016 Calder Cup, as the American Hockey League’s championship series begins Wednesday.

The Bears, who start with home ice advantage, enter the series having won the Calder Cup 11 times — the most of any franchise in the league’s history. They also enter the final having dispatched the Toronto Marlies — Canada’s remaining hope for an AHL championship, right…? — in the third round.

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Meanwhile, the Monsters have been on a torrid run in the playoffs, losing only twice in 13 games so far. They’ve earned the sweep in two of three series, making quick work of the Rockford IceHogs and Ontario Reign.

Bears forward Carter Camper, a journeyman in the minors with three games of NHL experience with Boston in 2011-12, is second in AHL playoff scoring with 15 points in 17 games.

For the Monsters, Blue Jackets prospect Lukas Sedlak has been on a roll, offensively, and now has 13 points in 13 post-season games this year.

From the Columbus Dispatch:

Sedlak was regarded as a smart two-way forward, but his offensive production was minimal, almost non-existent. Players like that tend to drift away after a few seasons, pushed aside by the next wave of young talent and high draft picks.

“I’d say right around Christmas I started wondering what was going to happen,” Sedlak said. “I was asking my agent what Columbus thought of me, and I was prepared for everything — maybe even going back to Europe.

“I knew my contract was up after the season. I thought I was playing pretty well … but you just don’t know.”

 

Stars sign Dowling, Ranford to one-year deals

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The Dallas Stars made a pair of depth moves on Tuesday, announcing the signings of forwards Justin Dowling and Brendan Ranford to one-year contracts.

Both players have put up good numbers in the American Hockey League with the Texas Stars.

This past season, the 24-year-old Ranford scored 19 goals and 59 points in 76 games — all career highs for him in the minors. He played once for Dallas last season, but didn’t register a point.

Initially undrafted and a Stars’ free agent signing from two years ago, the 25-year-old Dowling was also productive with 11 goals and 46 points in 52 games.