Stanley Cup Finals - Chicago Blackhawks v Philadelphia Flyers - Game Four

Lauren Hart discusses what should be an emotional rendition of ‘God Bless America’


Some people view the singing of the national anthem as a typical ceremony, but there are times when that moment holds greater meaning. Sometimes it’s because the singer flubs the lyrics, but other times the anthem comes shortly after a momentous occurrence in history.

As you’ve undoubtedly discussed today (we’ve been discussing it, too), the news that Osama bin Laden was killed reverberates through almost every sect of American society and the hockey world is no different.

The Philadelphia Flyers will host the Boston Bruins in Game 2 at the Wells Fargo Center tonight, the first NHL playoff game that will take place since the news arrived. (The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Washington Capitals in overtime before the world was aware of what happened.) Philadelphia is a fitting place for such an event to happen, even beyond its deep ties to some of the most notable moments in American history.

Ever since the team cited Kate Smith’s rendition of “God Bless America” as a good luck charm, the Flyers’ pre-game ceremonies* always seem like a bigger event. The team currently combines video of Smith’s performance of the song along with live vocals from Lauren Hart.

Hart said that she relishes the opportunity to sing the song on what could be a very emotional night. She also recalls singing “God Bless America” before a New York Rangers-Flyers exhibition game that was ultimately cut short for President George W. Bush’s speech on September 21, 2011.

“Just under normal circumstances, it’s so incredibly exciting and loud down there, but this is different; it made me think (Monday morning) when I was thinking about singing,” Hart told “I remember singing “God Bless America” almost 10 years ago during the (preseason) game that was halted for the speech given by President Bush after it all happened.”


“Not until (Monday) morning while listening to the radio and hearing the people talk about ‘God Bless America’ tonight did it dawn on me that this would be important to people and it would be a special moment for everybody in that building tonight.

“I feel so fortunate to do what I do,” she continued. “I really see the people and I really do look at faces and I see how they react. I know there’s going to be a lot of tears. I see it on a regular basis, but (Monday), I know it’ll turn into something even greater.”

If you’re not lucky enough to be in the building during that emotional Game 2, you can watch the game on Versus at 7:30 p.m. ET tonight.

* – The Flyers decided to change from “The Star Spangled Banner” to “God Bless America” during the 1973-74 season because tension regarding the Vietnam War was high. They’ve stuck with that practice ever since.

Struggling Sabre Tyler Ennis out with upper-body injury

Tyler Ennis, James Wisniewski
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Tyler Ennis can probably relate with the Buffalo Sabres’ opponent on Wednesday, as he’s struggling almost as much as the Nashville Predators.

Perhaps some of that has to do with health?

Whether that’s the case or not, Ennis is out for the Sabres tonight, as the team announced that he’s dealing with an upper-body injury.

The Buffalo News discussed Ennis’ struggles in this article.

“I’d say he’s pressing too much. You can’t make those plays in every situation and in every point you touch the puck,” Dan Bylsma said to the Buffalo News. “ … He’s just got to simplify his game. He is a special player who can make those plays, but he can’t be trying to do it every time he touches the puck.”

He’ll need to wait a while to start getting things together, anyway.

WATCH LIVE: Wednesday Night Rivalry (Flyers-Islanders; Blackhawks-Sharks)

Ryan White, Matt Martin
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You can check out tonight’s Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, and you can also stream them online.

Here are the handy links for the two contests.

First, the New York Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers.


After that, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the San Jose Sharks.


Braun out with upper-body injury; Zubrus to make Sharks debut

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The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.

Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.

“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”

Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.

Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.

Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.

Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer

Johansen calls trade rumblings ‘weird,’ says relationship with Torts is ‘great’

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One day after reports surfaced of Ryan Johansen being at the center of trade talks, all parties involved from Columbus did what they’re supposed to do — downplay the situation.

You can read the denials in full over at the Dispatch, but here’s the gist:

— Johansen said the rumors were “weird” and that he’s “never seen it before.” He also said there were no issues between him and head coach John Tortorella, calling the relationship “great.”

— GM Jarmo Kekalainen wouldn’t address the report, nor would Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt.

— Johansen added he hasn’t spoken to any of Columbus’ management about the trade rumblings.

So there’s that. What’s next?

At this stage of the game, it’s hard not to think about another Overhardt client, Kyle Turris.

Turris, you’ll recall, spent four (mostly) stormy years with the Coyotes before his trade out to Ottawa was orchestrated. Turris eventually told GM Don Maloney “this is not going to work out” with the club, and he was gone.

So, consider the similarities now:

— Turris was 22 at the time of the trade, with four years and 137 games under his belt.

— Johansen is 23, with five years and 291 games.

— Both had contentious contract holdouts with their respective clubs.

— Both are Overhardt guys.

— The Turris trade happened after the Coyotes went from Wayne Gretzky to Dave Tippett as head coach.

— Johansen is already on his third head coach (Scott Arniel, Todd Richards, Tortorella).

For now, these are all coincidences (or a forced narrative, depending what you think of the author).

And, of course, the one big — big — difference between the two is that, at the time of his trade, Turris wasn’t as good or established a player as Johansen currently is. Therefore, logic suggests any Johansen trade would be a lot more blockbuster-y and, therefore, probably more complex.

And as we know, complex deals aren’t easy to pull off.