2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 3: Flyers taking aim at Antti Niemi

The Philadelphia Flyers were able to put significant pressure on the
Blackhawks and Antti Niemi in the third period, getting one goal off of
15 shots. Yet after the game, the Flyers didn’t feel as if they truly
tested Niemi and that while his play was good they never forced him to
make truly miraculous saves.

That’s a sentiment I agreed with as
well. The San Jose Sharks stated during their series against the
Blackhawks that they needed to get the puck up high on Niemi, to test
him and force him to make blocker and glove saves. He’s at his best down
low, using his butterfly and size to cover the bottom part of the net.

Inexplicably,
the Flyers continuously fired pucks at Niemi’s pads in the third
period. Granted, things happen in the game that force certain shots but
you have to wonder if the Flyers will be focusing on going high on Niemi
after scoring just one goal in Game 2.

After two games against
Niemi and the Hawks, coach Peter Laviolette agrees that the Flyers need
to be taking better shots.

“We didn’t do a very good job of
picking our spots last game,” Laviolette said after the Flyers morning
skate. “We need to do a better job of picking our spots.”

One
thing the Blackhawks did a great job of was keeping the Flyers attack to
the perimeter, and not allowing the top line of Mike Richards, Simon
Gagne and Jeff Carter to get interior penetration and get to those
rebound chances around the crease. The Flyers certainly need to take
better shots, but Laviolette says they’re also going to be focusing on
creating more traffic in front of Niemi.

“I’m a big believer in
traffic, I thought we could do a better job of getting to that area.
Always makes life a little bit more difficult for a goaltender. Tonight
we’re going to look at getting to those areas if we can, and fine tune
our shots a little bit.”

While the Flyers certainly are aiming to
create more havoc in front of Niemi, they did a pretty good job of that
in Game 2. Niemi was just too confident, too comfortable in his crease
and was covering his net perfectly, with several shots making their way
through traffic and finding Niemi’s pads.

The Flyers have played
well, with certainly plenty of room for improvement. Yet they’re a
confident bunch, and will be aiming to find the spots that Niemi tends
to leave open. Especially up high.

“There’s room there, I
think there’s other room as well,” Laviolette said when asked about
aiming high. “Things that we’ve talked about that we’ve tried to show on
video. We’ll get there.”

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    Poll: Will John Tavares re-sign with the Islanders?

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    This post is part of Islanders Day on PHT…

    Is this going to be the last year we see John Tavares in a New York Islanders uniform?

    That will likely be the question that surrounds the Islanders as long as Tavares is around and he hasn’t signed a long-term extension with the only club he’s ever played for.

    The Tampa Bay Lightning went through this a couple of years ago with Steven Stamkos. In the end, the sniper opted to remain with the club that drafted him. Will Tavares do the same thing? Only time will tell. But what happens if Tavares doesn’t sign before the trade deadline?

    The Bolts had to chose between keeping Stamkos for a playoff push and risk losing him for nothing, or trading him for a few assets to make sure they got something to show for him. The situation worked out well for Lightning GM Steve Yzerman.

    Players like Tavares rarely make it to free agency, which is why it could be tempting for him to wait until July 1st to see what he could fetch on the open market.

    The 26-year-old holds all the cards. He’s already said that he’s in no hurry to sign a new contract extension.

    “For me, there’s really no rush,” Tavares told Newsday last week. “I’m trying to determine things, let the process run its course, keep the lines of communication open, keep it all internal and it’s been good so far . . . In terms of signing a new contract, there’s a lot that goes into it. To really dive into all the details, get into all the conversations I’ve had with Garth [Snow], the team and Doug [Weight], I don’t think it’s productive to the situation and the negotiating. I prefer to keep it all internal, that’s the best way to keep it all open, honest and healthy.”

    Since he joined the Islanders as an 18-year-old in 2009-10, he hasn’t exactly been surrounded by incredible talent. Sure, New York has had some quality players on their roster, but they’ve always leaned heavily on Tavares.

    This summer, they traded away inconsistent forward Ryan Strome to the Oilers for proven scorer Jordan Eberle, who could see some time on Tavares’ wing. Will it be enough to convince him to stay?

    The biggest difference between the Tavares/Stamkos situation, is that Stamkos expected to Lightning to be very competitive over the next few years (yes, they missed the playoffs this year, but the future still looks bright). Can the Islanders superstar expect the same from his organization?

    Many have already speculated that he could decide to sign with his hometown team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Even though the Leafs have plenty of talented forwards on their roster, they could still benefit from having a guy like no. 91 around.

    Will he stay or will he go? Let us know what you think by voting in the poll below. Feel free to leave your opinion in the comments section.

    It’s New York Islanders day at PHT

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    Understatement 1: the 2016-17 season was rough for the New York Islanders.

    Understatement 2: John Tavares‘ future is a pretty big deal, to Islanders and hockey fans alike.

    Many of the worries surrounding the second understatement stem from the first one; last season was rough, to the point that people are worried that Tavares’ confidence might be shaking in the Isles.

    Of course, it’s not just about the 2016-17 season.

    After all, they’ve only won one playoff series (eliminating the Panthers in 2016) since 1992-93. If Tavares is growing impatient with the Islanders’ process, then 2017-18 stands as potentially integral in keeping him around. Islanders fans cringe at such talk, but there’s no sense pretending that isn’t an issue on Isles day.

    Ouch. Sorry.

    The Islanders are sticking with Doug Weight as head coach after a largely successful interim run.

    As far as changes go, GM Garth Snow traded Ryan Strome for Jordan Eberle, a player Tavares has some history and chemistry with. That was a good way to entice Tavares … but trading away Travis Hamonic might not have been the most endearing move. At least since the Islanders didn’t land, say, Matt Duchene for their troubles.

    There’s always the chance that a Duchene deal – or some other upgrade – could still be in the works, but as is, this off-season feels more like a lateral move for the Islanders. The draft picks they got for Hamonic probably don’t mean much for Tavares, after all.

    Islanders day will explore many facets of the team on Monday. Some might not even revolve around that Tavares fellow.

    Malkin on ‘workaholic’ Crosby, Penguins’ chances for three Cups in a row

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    Evgeni Malkin shared some interesting observations with Sports-Express’ Igor Eronko this weekend, including that he believes that the Pittsburgh Penguins “have all the tools” to win a third Stanley Cup in a row.

    Quite reasonably, Malkin notes that the team kept its core intact.

    Of course, Malkin and Sidney Crosby are still the catalysts for the Penguins, so it’s always fun to come across the latest observations from the Russian star.

    Good stuff.

    It’s not surprising to see Malkin praise Crosby and pump up the Penguins’ chances. Last year, he showed confidence in Pittsburgh’s repeat chances and professed an interest in being on the same team with Crosby for the next “10 years.”

    This summer’s been a great one for Geno, with plenty of team honors mixing with some great individual feats. For example:

    Habs’ Byron got to skate(board) with Tony Hawk

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    Montreal Canadiens forward Paul Byron is so speedy on the ice, his skating can sometimes be intimidating, particularly when he’s on the penalty kill.

    Every now and then, we’ll see, say, a floppy-haired snowboarder also show some serious skateboarding acumen, and skateboarding seems to blend well with surfing to boot. So what about ice skating and skateboarding?

    Well, Byron apparently got to meet Tony Hawk – along with his kids – and at least made a solid impression, as the Canadiens website notes.

    “Paul can hold his own. I bet he’d do better on my board,” Hawk said. “It wouldn’t be so wobbly.”

    The only bummer is that it doesn’t seem like footage of Byron skateboarding is available. There is some cute footage of Hawk with Byron’s kids, though:

    Little B's turn💙

    A post shared by Sarah Byron (@sarahannbyron) on

    There’s also Hawk skateboarding in a Canadiens sweater. Fun stuff.

    (H/T to Sportsnet.)