In the night’s first Game 7 the drama never really got going as the Flyers made efficient work of the Sabres and took them out in Game 7 with a 5-2 win. The Flyers got out to a roaring start in the first period outshooting Buffalo 16-2 in the period on the way to taking a 1-0 lead thanks to Braydon Coburn scoring a soft goal from the point that Ryan Miller couldn’t close his five hole fast enough to stop. That goal and the shots in the period set the tone for the rest of the game as the Flyers opened it up in the second.
Former Sabre Daniel Briere continued to be a thorn in Buffalo’s side making it 2-0 4:45 into the period. James van Riemsdyk would make it 3-0 late in the second on a power play goal. With the score at 3-0, things got tenuous as that score has been the bogeyman throughout the playoffs for any team in the lead. The Flyers would make it stick.
Ville Leino scored 1:59 into the third to make it 4-0 and then chase Ryan Miller from the game. The Sabres would score to break the shutout thanks to Tyler Myers, but Dan Carcillo would add a goal to make it 5-1. Brad Boyes would add a power play goal late to make it look more respectable, but the Flyers dominated Buffalo all through the game.
The Flyers sustained pressure all game long and made the Sabres have to burrow in defensively to try and help Miller. Unfortunately for Buffalo, Miller seemed off his game and rattled by the swarming presence Philadelphia brought all game long. The entire Sabres roster tonight didn’t seem to know how to handle the Flyers forcing their play upon them.
Flat out, the Flyers finally looked like the team that had dominated the Eastern Conference for most of the season. Not since February or March have we seen them play a physically and offensively dominating game like that. If they can do that the rest of the way through the playoffs, these Flyers are a force to be reckoned with.
From the NHL:
Pretty veteran crew, including three returnees from last year’s final.
Per the NHL, O’Halloran and O’Rourke will call tonight’s series opener from Consol.
PITTSBURGH — When Pete DeBoer was hired to coach the San Jose Sharks, he wasn’t totally cognizant of how much heartbreak the fan base had experienced throughout the years.
Now he knows.
“First year in the community, I didn’t realize kind of the baggage that was carried around,” DeBoer said this morning ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. “Twenty-five-year season-ticket holders coming up to you with tears in their eyes and crying.”
The Sharks, of course, have never been this far in the playoffs. Prior to this year, they’d made it three times to the Western Conference Final, losing each time.
More painful were the first-round exits. Like in 2009 when they won the Presidents’ Trophy and got knocked out by the Ducks, and two years ago when they led the Kings 3-0 before dropping four straight.
It was only after the Sharks beat the Blues that DeBoer fully realized the “gravity of what they’ve been through” as fans in San Jose, and “how important this is to them.”
Not that he’s satisfied with getting this far.
“The business at hand now is to get off on the right foot, plant the right seeds for this series, impose our game,” he said. “Every series is the same — it’s whatever team can impose their game on the other team the quickest and for the longest. That’s our goal here tonight.”
Related: For Pete DeBoer, San Jose was the perfect landing spot
Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar will spend part of his offseason trying to help Slovenia qualify for the Olympics.
RTV Slovenia has the story here.
The qualification games will be played September 1-4 in Minsk. Slovenia is in a group with Belarus, Denmark and Poland. The winner of the group will qualify for the Olympics.
The NHL reportedly has no issue with Kopitar’s participation, even though the league has yet to commit to sending its players to Pyeongchang.
Slovenia made its Olympic debut in ice hockey at the 2014 Games in Sochi.
Kopitar will also represent Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup later in September.
Related: Slovenia beats Slovakia for historic win
PITTSBURGH — Matt Nieto is healthy, and ready to go.
But it doesn’t look like he’ll go tonight.
The San Jose Sharks are unlikely to make any lineup changes for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in Pittsburgh — at Monday’s optional morning skate, Nieto stayed out late with the extras while the guy he’d (presumably) replace in the lineup, Dainius Zubrus, told NHL.com he was in.
Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer wouldn’t reveal any lineup decisions during his morning media availability, instead talking up both Nieto (for his speed) and Zubrus (for his “heavy” game), adding he liked the versatility the two give the club on a night-by-night basis.
Nieto suffered an upper-body injury in Game 6 of the Nashville series, and missed all of the Western Conference Final.
Prior to getting hurt, he had three points in 11 games — this after a regular season in which he scored eight goals and 17 points in 67 games.