2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 5: Blackhawks are in unfamiliar territory


Toews2.jpgChicago Blackhawks vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Series tied 1-1

8:00 p.m.
EDT, Sunday, June 6, 2010

Live on NBC

Chicago Blackhawks suddenly have their backs against the wall. It’s a
position these Hawks aren’t exactly familiar with.

They faced some early adversity against the Nashville Predators
just as the playoffs were starting, yet since then they have practically
rolled on their way to the Stanley Cup finals. They were able to knock
the Vancouver Canucks in idiotville, and then dispatched the San Jose
Sharks in a four-game sweep; there was no reason not believe they’d
easily take care of the Philadelphia Flyers for the Stanley Cup.

by the series predictions, that’s exactly what most media pundits

They Blackhawks have yet to play a complete game against
the Flyers in this series, escaping with two close wins to open the
series before being stunned twice in Philadelphia. If you break down
both teams top to bottom, it’s apparent that the Hawks are more talented
and experienced than the Flyers yet have been outplayed for most of the
past two and a half games.

The Hawks haven’t been dominated, the
Flyers are won two very close games themselves, yet now all the pressure
is squarely on the shoulders of the Chicago Blackhawks. Before Game 4,
the players and the coaches all contended that they were still loose and
confident, yet certainly waited until late in the game to actually back
up their words. By that point, they were down 4-1 midway through the
third period before the light finally came on.

Simon Gagne and
Danny Briere of the Flyers both agree that there really isn’t such thing
as momentum in a series, that each game starts fresh and that it’s
tough to actually carry over momentum from one game to the next.

after the Hawks lost their first back-to-back games for the first time
since November, this is a team that suddenly has a number of questions
to answer. Will their defense stop the terrible giveaways that have
plagued them the past two days, and get back to resembling the defense
that was so incredibly effective during the regular season?

importantly, will the Blackhawks finally get production from the most
important player on the team? Jonathan Toews appeared to be pressing at
times, and has had all sorts of issues getting chances against the top
defensive pairing of Chris Pronger and Matt Carle. Now there’s a
possibility that Toews and Patrick Kane will be split up, adding another
layer of uncertainty to tonight’s game.

Now we’re back in
Chicago, with the Blackhawks in front of the crowd that has been their
spark all postseason long. A loss tonight, and you better believe that
they’ll be headed back into a maelstrom of pressure in Philadelphia on
Wednesday night.

PHT Morning Skate: Beat writers survey predicts Ducks will win Cup

Corey Perry, Frederik Andersen
AP Photo
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

In a survey of 29 beat writers, the Anaheim Ducks emerged as the clear favorite to win the Stanley Cup. If you’ll recall, they have that in common with the EA Sports simulation. (Boston Globe)

Alex Ovechkin would pick an Olympic hit against Jaromir Jagr as the biggest check of his life. (Russian Machine Never Breaks)

Here are the highlights from Minnesota’s 5-4 victory over Colorado:

The Montreal Canadiens seem committed to using Alex Galchenyuk as a center throughout the 2015-16 campaign. (The Canadian Press)

The NHL recently enlisted its players to read off some not so mean tweets. (USA Today)

Bills coach Rex Ryan talked about the Sabres in Thursday’s press conference. (NHL.com)

Frederik Andersen may have the Anaheim Ducks’ starting job for now, but with John Gibson still a big part of their plans, Andersen has to keep proving himself. (Orange County Register)

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.