2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 4: Hawks talk about 3rd period struggles

Sopel.jpgThe Chicago Blackhawks may be leading this series 2-1, with a good
chance to head back to Chicago with a chance to clinch the Stanley Cup,
but the Philadelphia Flyers have the momentum. After walking away from a
sloppy Game 1 confident that they can keep up with the talented and
deep Blackhawks, the Flyers have used a surprisingly strong surge in the
latter half of the past two games to climb right back in this series.

The
Flyers grossly outplayed and outshot the Hawks in the third of Game 2,
but thanks to a timely and surprisingly deft goal by Ben Eager walked
away the losers in a close game. They talked about building on that
momentum and getting a good start here in Philadelphia, and put together
arguably their best overall effort in Game 3.

Still, their best
effort of the series still saw the Flyers playing in a tight game that
could have gone either way. Once again the Flyers grossly outplayed the
Hawks in the third period, outshooting their opponent 15-4 and easily
seizing control of the game.

It’s a disturbing trend for the
Blackhawks, who until this series had used their great depth to put
together a complete, 60-minute effort in nearly every game of the
postseason. There were some hiccups here and there, but this has been
the first time the Hawks have struggled this much in consecutive games.

“Playing
with the lead, sometimes you tend to sit back a bit which we don’t want
to do,” Patrick Kane said when asked about his team’s struggles in the
third period.

“I think they’ve been building off their momentum
in the third periods which is probably why they had more chances in
overtime and ended up winning the game. Sometimes when you have the lead
you tend to sit back a bit.”

The Hawks have certainly been
sitting back, especially when you consider that they took the lead early
in the third last game and were trying to protect a two-goal lead in
Game 2. Yet it hasn’t just been a matter of the Hawks sitting back; some
of the credit has to go to the Flyers as well.

“They have a good
team concept and they seem to stick to it,” said Patrick Sharp. “They
don’t change if their up a goal or down a goal, and that makes it tough
to play against.”

One thing that has been evident is that the
Flyers have used their hard forecheck all game long to seemingly beat
back the counterattack of the Blackhawks. Brent Sopel feels that
forecheck harder than most, and he agrees that the Flyers are a cut
above the rest.

“They’re tenacious, they don’t give up,” said
Sopel. “They’re resilient, the whole team
is that way. They definitely come a lot harder than other teams [on the
forecheck]. Obviously everyone uses their forecheck differently, but
they’ve got speed and they try to use that to their advantage.”

Troy
Brouwer agreed, that there is one thing that the Flyers use better than
any other team they’ve faced in the playoffs. What is that one part of
the game they do so well?

“Pressure,” Brouwer said. “They have
a lot of desire on that team and a lot of will to win. When it comes
down to crunch time and you have to press for a goal or press for the
lead, they’ve done really well in that aspect.”

The Blackhawks
were almost gushing about the way the Flyers play, especially in the
third period. Yet when asked what they’ll be doing differently moving
forward to try and have a better effort in the third, the Blackhawks
were adamant they don’t need to change anything, really.

“We
don’t change our game because it’s the third period,” Brouwer said. “We
got a lead in the third period last game and the very next shift they
got a nice bounce right on the tape for an open net goal. What can you
do, really? It’s a tough break, and we don’t change the way we play
because of it.”

Brent Sopel was even more direct. He didn’t want
to hear any questions about the third period, stating several times that
the past is the past and they can’t change it. All the Blackhawks can
do is focus on what is ahead of them.

“We’re not worried about
the third period, we’re just worried about the first period here in
Game 4.”

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    Couture wants Sharks to re-sign Thornton, Marleau

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    The San Jose Sharks 3-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night was not only the end of their 2016-17 season, it could have also been the end of an era.

    With veterans Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau eligible for unrestricted free agency on July 1, their future with the team remains uncertain, and neither one seemed prepared to talk about it in the immediate aftermath of Saturday’s defeat.

    Sharks forward Logan Couture was asked if he wants to see the two players return next season and made it pretty clear that he does.

    “You’re asking a guy who’s played with those guys for eight years,” said Couture, via Paul Gackle of the Mecrury News. “I love those guys. They play hard. If you guys only knew what they play through. The respect level that I have for those two guys is just through the roof.”

    There are a number of variables that are going to play a role in whether or not the two leading scorers in franchise history will be back.

    Along with their willingness to return is the fact that both players will be entering their age 38 seasons and already showed some signs of slowing down this season. How much cap space are the Sharks going to be willing to invest in the duo when they already have $55.7 million in salary cap space committed to 16 players for next season, especially given their ages.

    If this does turn out to be the end for Thornton and/or Marleau in San Jose their time will be remembered more for not winning a Stanley Cup and probably not for how much success they have actually had on the ice, both individually and as a team. Not only have Thornton and Marleau been two of the NHL’s best and most productive players over the past decade, but the Sharks have been one of the NHL’s best teams. Since the 2005-06 season, when Thornton first arrived in San Jose, the Sharks have won a league best 547 regular season games (11 more than the team with the second-most wins, the Pittsburgh Penguins) while their 64 playoff wins are tied for the fourth most (Anaheim Ducks) behind only the Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks, and Detroit Red Wings.

    WATCH LIVE: Maple Leafs, Bruins facing elimination on Sunday

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    It is a win or go home situation for the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday, as both teams enter their respective Game 6s facing elimination in their first-round playoff series’.

    The Bruins need to beat the Ottawa Senators to force a Game 7 on Tuesday night, while the Toronto Maple Leafs need a win to extend their series against the Presidents’ Trophy winning Washington Capitals to a decisive seventh game on Wednesday.

    Both games will be shown on the NBC Networks and streamed online.

    Here is all of the information you need for Sunday’s games.

    Boston Bruins vs. Ottawa Senators

    Time: 3:00 p.m. ET

    Network: NBC (Stream Online Here)

    Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Washington Capitals

    Time: 7:00 p.m. ET

    Network: NBCSN (Stream Online Here)

    David Krejci out again for Bruins; Matt Beleskey will play

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    The Boston Bruins will once again be without forward David Krejci on Sunday afternoon when they face the Ottawa Senators in Game 6 of their first-round playoff series, coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed.

    It will be the third game that Krejci has missed in the series due to a lower-body injury.

    Matt Beleskey, who has only played in two of the first five games of the series, will draw into the lineup in his place.

    Krejci’s absence still leaves the Bruins shorthanded as they are still without defensemen Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo. Cassidy said on Sunday that Krug has resumed skating but is still not ready to return to the lineup.

    The Senators have a couple of lineup questions of their own. Forward Viktor Stalberg is a game-time decision, while Guy Boucher is making one change on defense with Chris Wideman coming out of the lineup for Fredrik Claesson.

    Kings hire John Stevens as next head coach

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    The Los Angeles Kings moved fairly quickly when it comes to replacing Darryl Sutter, and they did not have to go very far to do it.

    The Kings announced on Sunday that John Stevens will take over as the team’s next head coach. The team will have a press conference on Monday.

    Stevens has been an assistant coach with the Kings since the start of the 2010-11 season and spent four games as an interim head coach with the team during the 2011-12 season after Terry Murray was fired, and before Sutter was hired. Following the arrival of Sutter, Stevens went back to his role as an assistant, remaining in that position until now.

    “John and I had very productive dialogue this last week in relation to his head coaching philosophy and specifically how he would implement a strategy to activate our players offensively while maintaining the defensive philosophies we have come to be known for,” general manager Rob Blake said in a statement released by the team.

    “I am confident that we are both in agreement on how that can be executed. With that said, we believe John has the ideal qualities to lead our hockey club. His wide array of coaching experience, including success as an NHL head coach and his inherent knowledge of our players and those in our development system, is very appealing to us. We are confident he is the best person to lead our hockey club forward.”

    Prior to his time with the Kings, Stevens served as the head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers between 2006-07 and 2009-10, reaching the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2007-08 season.

    He has a 122-111-34 record as an NHL head coach.

    The fact the Kings are promoting from within (something they already did with the general manager role) is a pretty clear sign that even though they are seeking a different direction, they are maybe not quite prepared to go through a complete teardown of the organization.

    They have missed the playoffs in two of the past three seasons, and have not won a postseason series since 2014.