2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 3: Flyers not feeling any pressure

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Flyers9.jpgIf there was one thing to take away from this morning’s skate, is
that the Philadelphia Flyers are nowhere near panic mode.

They looked calm, confident and focused and according to them, they
aren’t feeling the pressure.

They are down 2-0 against Chicago, and a loss tonight would put them
in the dreaded 3-0 hole. They’ve come back once this year against those
odds, but doing it again and in the Cup finals against the Chicago
Blackhawks is a completely different animal altogether.

Still, they say, there’s no pressure.

“I’m not sensing a lot of pressure,” coach Peter Laviolette said.
“As far as the building and the fans and the energy, I’m a big believer
in that. I say harness all of it and ride it as hard as you can. The
pressure, I’m not seeing it from our guys. I don’t see it in the
interviews. I don’t see it on the ice. I don’t see it in the locker
room.

The players themselves stated the same thing and certainly didn’t
appear to be all that worried about their deficit in the series.
Instead, they’re focused on improving and focused on just winning
tonight. They’ll have their home crowd behind them this time, and while
I’m sure the energy will give them some extra jump they appeared to be
completely comfortable as they settle back onto their home ice.

“We’re a loose group,” Laviolette said. “We’re really comfortable
where we’re at right now, and we would like it to be the other way, but
we’re not. We’re comfortable here because we’ve been here too many
times. We’re looking forward to it tonight.”

Several players stated that while they’re not happy with being down
2-0 to the Blackhawks, this is a position they’ve been in nearly all
season long. This is a team that’s had it’s back against the wall, that
barely made it into the playoffs and have gone on a historic ride
through the postseason. Since Laviolette replaced John Stevens on
December 4th, however, he’s done nothing but get them ready for this
moment.

“We’ve been in a situation since Christmas where it’s been time to
pack it in,” he said. Everybody just go home. Call it a year. And yet
we’re still here. It’s the beginning of June. We’re pretty happy to be
here. And the guys won’t quit. They just won’t. That’s why I sit up
here today confident about our ability to win a hockey game tonight.”

Leafs pass Bruins for third in Atlantic after gutsy win against Columbus

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It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.

Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:

Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games

This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.

The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.

This game was all about William Nylander‘s brilliant start:

And also Toronto surviving a long penalty kill after that Polak hit:

Nazem Kadri‘s 30th goal really put the game out of reach, helping Toronto nab a significant victory.

The Blue Jackets can wallow in this defeat and Oliver Bjorkstrand‘s injury, either, as they turn around to face the Washington Capitals in a big one tomorrow.

Tortorella was irate after Roman Polak boarded Oliver Bjorkstrand

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John Tortorella was left enraged after Roman Polak delivered a dangerous boarding hit on Oliver Bjorkstrand, and he probably wasn’t too pleased after the Columbus Blue Jackets failed to make Toronto pay for Polak’s misdeeds.

Polak received a game misconduct and boarding major for the hit, but the Blue Jackets failed to score on a lengthy power play. Tortorella played to script, as cameras caught him expressing his anger at the situation.

First, take a look at the hit:

Next, behold Tortorella’s anger:

Again, Columbus couldn’t capitalize on its opportunities, so that didn’t make things any better.

Right now, the Maple Leafs lead the Blue Jackets 3-2. If Toronto ends up winning, this will stand as one of the game’s pivotal moments.

It’s far from the only exciting moment, however, with these goals and big hits also standing out.

Video: Josh Ho-Sang’s creativity gives Islanders a shot in the arm

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Honestly, after 10 games, the question shouldn’t be “can Josh Ho-Sang stick with the Islanders full-time?” Instead, the feeling is … what took so long for him to get this chance?

For all the grumbling about Ho-Sang sporting number 66, he’s provided serious bursts of brilliance and creativity for the Islanders, whether he’s been supporting or even setting up John Tavares.

The video above is some really good stuff, as it walks through his confident comments – and undeniable uncertainty – during the night he was drafted, all the way through him getting his chance with the Isles this season. Some of the best stuff comes from Doug Weight, who raves that Ho-Sang is a “five out of five” from an offensive standpoint.

Leafs’ Nylander puts on show with breakaway goal, assist on Matthews’ 33rd

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This wouldn’t have been worth a chuckle if not for the correction. (Well, maybe a chuckle at Auston Matthews‘ expense.)

On the 33rd goal of his brilliant rookie season, Auston Matthews made it 2-0 for Toronto on the power play. Crusty “act like you’ve been there” types might grumble that he actually celebrated before a goal really happened, only to tap it in for real the second time around. The rest of us, again, get a mild chuckle.

William Nylander‘s pass was nothing to laugh at, however. That one just gets a big thumbs up.

Hnnngmgghh indeed.

That goal could end up being key as the Blue Jackets quickly scored to start the second period, shrinking Toronto’s lead to 2-1 on Wednesday.

Update: OK, so Nylander’s really stealing the show. This is stupendous.