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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    Mike Smith is out with illness that is not the mumps, Coyotes say

    GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 07:  Goaltender Mike Smith #41 of the Arizona Coyotes during the preseason NHL game against San Jose Sharks at Gila River Arena on October 7, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Sharks 3-1  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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    The Arizona Republic’s Sarah McLellan reports that she was told Mike Smith is missing tonight’s game because of an illness that is not the mumps.

    You may recognize “not the mumps” as the NHL’s version of letting out a barrage of coughs and then insisting the issue is not contagious.

    Anyway, Smith is out tonight as the Arizona Coyotes visit the Stars in Dallas. With that, Louis Domingue gets the start while the team made an emergency recall of Adin Hill to be his backup.

    A quick 411 on Hill: the 20-year-old goalie was the 76th pick in 2015 by the Coyotes. He’s put together some solid work after being promoted from the ECHL to the AHL this season, managing a respectable .916 save percentage in 26 games with the Tucson Roadrunners.

    It’s been a tough season for Domingue (5-13-1, .895 save percentage, 3.29 GAA), so you almost wonder if the Coyotes are tempted to see how Hill would handle a little relief work.

    Rare wave of injuries for Capitals as Oshie, Orpik are also out

    WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 02: Matt Niskanen #2 of the Washington Capitals celebrates with teammate T.J. Oshie #77 after scoring a third period goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Verizon Center on March 2, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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    The Washington Capitals have been outright dominant this season, but there’s one opponent they haven’t faced very often: injuries.

    They’ve been healthier than everyone else to an almost spooky extent in 2016-17, yet it seems like they’re dealing with a rash of ailments for the first time in a while.

    The injury list for tonight’s game against the Edmonton Oilers appears to be: Matt Niskanen, Andre Burakovsky, Brooks Orpik and T.J. Oshie.

    We already knew that Burakovsky will miss some time and that Niskanen was injured after colliding knee-to-knee with Radko Gudas. Oshie and Orpik are bigger surprises as far as their lineup goes. It seemed like Oshie took some significant hits against the Flyers in that same game that injured Niskanen, so maybe that’s the issue there?

    Here’s what the Capitals lineup will look like, via the team itself:

    The team labels Oshie’s injury as upper-body related while Orpik and Niskanen have lower-body issues. On the bright side, those three are all considered day-to-day.

    Riley Barber makes his debut with all of these injury absences.

    Predators are a wild card in more ways than one

    NASHVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 21:  Filip Forsberg #9 of the Nashville Predators is congratulated by teammates after scoring a hat trick against the Calgary Flames during the second period at Bridgestone Arena on February 21, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
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    The Nashville Predators have really earned the “wild card” moniker lately, even beyond holding the West’s first wild card spot.

    Such a label could describe their up-and-down 2016-17 in general, and it might only intensify over the next few weeks.

    Trade deadline players?

    Nashville boasts Filip Forsberg, a guy with rare back-to-back hat tricks, not to mention other quality scorers such as James Neal, Ryan Johansen and diamond in the rough Viktor Arvidsson. (Their defensemen can produce points in buckets, too.)

    But perhaps they can go from sporadically good to regular contender with that extra boost?

    Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes that the Predators could be in on talks to acquire Matt Duchene or “somebody big” at forward. Duchene, himself, might be tough to get:

    That schedule, though

    Honestly, the way their schedule looks, the Predators might need a shot in the arm.

    Check out what they’re dealing with during the next few weeks:

    Saturday: vs. Capitals
    Sunday: vs. Oilers
    Tuesday, Feb. 28: at Sabres
    Thursday, March 2: at Canadiens
    Saturday, March 4: vs. Blackhawks
    Tuesday, March 7: at Ducks
    Thursday, March 9: at Kings
    Saturday, March 11: at Sharks
    Monday, March 13: vs. Jets
    Thursday, March 16: at Capitals
    Saturday, March 18: at Hurricanes

    That’s a rough mixture of tough opponents and road games, with even games against non-playoff teams being less than layups (the Hurricanes can beat you when they’re on point, for instance).

    The Predators are in the first wild card spot. They’re also not far behind for the third seed in the Central, as the Blues hold a tiebreaker advantage over Nashville right now with both teams at 67 standings points.

    That schedule could be an issue, however, for a team that’s been vulnerable to hitting highs and lows.

    On the other hand, we’ve also seen hints of the dominant squad many penciled in as a possible contender in 2016-17. In a weakened West, the Predators remain a fascinating team to watch. That could be especially true in the near future.

    ‘Hawks nab Jurco in trade with Red Wings

    Tomas Jurco
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    The Chicago Blackhawks picked up some forward depth today, adding winger Tomas Jurco in a trade with the Detroit Red Wings.

    In return, the ‘Hawks sent the Wings a third-round draft pick in 2017.

    Jurco has only appeared in 16 games this season. He has no goals and no assists.

    The 24-year-old was forced to undergo back surgery this past offseason.

    “I could still play with it but the worst for me was sitting on the bench all the time,” Jurco said in November, per NHL.com. “Sometimes I’d have to get up and walk. Sometimes I’d stretch it. It was bad and I’ve been sitting a lot for the last couple of years on the bench. It was really tough but I’m glad it’s gone and I’m excited for a fresh start.”

    A pending restricted free agent, Jurco’s cap hit is just $900,000.

    In a corresponding move, the ‘Hawks assigned rookie forward Vinnie Hinostroza to the AHL.