Author: NBC Sports

2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 4: Ville Leino leaves with injury

He’s been the surprise of the postseason fort he Flyers, and one of the main reasons the team has been so successful without their top line performing. Yet there’s some bad news coming, potentially.

The Flyers were in the midst of a nifty transition from defense through the neutral zone, when Brian Campbell caught Leino with a nasty hip check as Leino was skating backwards with the puck. Not exactly the best position to be in.

Leino struggled to get up, after colliding with the boards, and was helped off the ice and into the locker room. We’ll update you on his condition as soon as we get word, but he has yet to make it back out on the bench for the Flyers.

Leino is back out on the ice, and is fast and feisty as ever.

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    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.

    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.

    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.”

    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.

    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.”

    2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 4: Which team is feeling the pressure?


    Judging by some of the questions the players are being asked,
    combined with the overall atmosphere that exists today around the
    Wachovia Center, and you would think the Flyers were the ones with the
    lead in this series. The Flyers have been able to keep winning on the
    strength of their resiliency and ability to overcome adversity, yet
    after a big win in Game 3 it seems as though we may be getting a bit
    obsessed with just how resilient this team may be.

    True, the
    Flyers certainly seem to keep finding any and every way to win against
    supposedly better teams, but the Blackhawks are still in complete
    control of this series. So who is the pressure on? Is it the Flyers, as
    they look to even up the series tonight at home or is it on the
    Blackhawks, who have a chance to take a commanding 3-1 lead before
    heading back to Chicago.

    Flyers coach Peter Laviolette says his team has been in this position
    all season long, and one win won’t change that.

    “The pressure, I think, is more for teams that are expected to win,
    as the Blackhawks are, and everybody picked them before the Series,”
    Laviolette said after this morning’s skate. “We don’t concede anything.
    We feel like we’ve got a confident group that’s capable of winning
    hockey games. But I don’t know if we feel the pressure as much. We’re
    trying to keep it light. We’re trying to have a whole bunch of fun.”

    As much as it’s possible to get a read on a locker room, you’d
    certainly have to agree with Laviolette. The Flyers are just a supremely
    confident team right now, saying all the right things and embracing the
    role they’ve developed this postseason. They know the pressure is on to
    win tonight, but they are still focused on just playing the game that
    got them to this point. Kimmo Timonen says the Flyers have to embrace
    the chance they have tonight.

    “This will be the most important
    game in our team and for most of these
    players’ lives,” he said. “We got to go out there and do our job.
    Obviously, it’s a big game but we have to be able to relax and not panic
    and play our game and make sure we do our jobs. We know this is the key
    game for us to hopefully tie up the series.”

    The difference
    between 2-2 and 3-1 is tremendous. A loss tonight, and the Flyers will
    be right back to playing with their backs against the wall. Ian
    Laperriere said today that this team was the most resilient he’s ever
    been a part of in his career and that the Flyers are at their best when
    they absolutely must win.

    The Blackhawks might have something to
    say about that, however. When asked about Laviolette’s comments, Patrick
    Kane responded “..well, that’s just mind games” and shrugged off
    questions about the pressure being on the Blackhawks.

    “We don’t
    feel any pressure. We feel we’re in the driver’s seat, up 2-1. We’re in a
    great position, we win this one we can go back home and hopefully do
    some special things in front of that crowd. I think we’re in a great

    Despite the 2-1 series lead, there’s no doubting that
    the Flyers have been the better team on the ice since the third period
    of Game 2. They’ve controlled the flow of the play, and have even been
    able to step up to the speed of the game that Chicago enjoys and beat
    them at doing so. Patrick Sharp agrees that the Hawks certainly need to
    get better.

    “At times we’re playing the game we want, we’re having good
    stretches but there’s certainly room for improvement. We have yet to
    play our best game, but sometimes you have to give the other team

    A lot of the focus has been on “pressure” and which team
    is feeling it more. Let’s just settle and say that both teams are in the
    Stanley Cup finals, in a tightly contested series; there’s tremendous
    pressure on both of these teams.

    Yet talking to the players, and
    the way the media is approaching tonight’s game, there’s no doubting the
    feeling that the Flyers have the momentum in the series at the moment.
    Does that mean that the pressure is squarely on the Hawks and that the
    Flyers are just playing with house money at this point? Possibly, and it
    certainly shows in each team’s demeanor.

    No matter what is said,
    however, the true measure will come tonight.

    2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 4: Flyers mum on van Riemsdyk's status

    JVR.jpgSeeing the demeanor of both James van Riemsdyk and Dan Carcillo after
    this morning skate — combined with the fact that Carcillo was benched
    in the third period Wednesday night — speculation was
    fueled that JVR would be back in the lineup tonight.

    Just don’t ask Peter Laviolette about it.

    “Good try. We don’t talk about any lineups, you guys know that.”

    was just as mum about the situation.

    “You’ll have to speak to
    coach, I’m not even sure,” he said, when asked if he was playing. “If
    you do get that chance to get in there though, you have to make the
    most of it and it’s going to be an exciting game and going to be another
    one of those games where it’s a must win for us. It’ll be the biggest
    one of the season and we’re going to have to come
    out flying.”

    Carcillo wouldn’t answer any questions about his
    playing status, and while he certainly didn’t appear to be too pleased
    after the skate I doubt that either player knew whether they were
    playing or not at that time. Laviolette normally waits until after the
    skate and after talking to the media about what changes he might be

    What was interesting was seeing how forthcoming JVR was,
    practically gushing about Carcillo’s performance in the past two games.

    done a great job in there,” van Riemsdyk said. “He’s been skating,
    being physical and getting under their skin and those are the three
    things that he’s always been known to be great at. So he’s definitely
    done a good job doing that.”

    Carcillo has certainly focused on
    getting under the Hawks’ skin, but the Flyers have proven to be at their
    most effective when their skill players and scorers are throwing
    endless shifts of offensive pressure at Chicago. Perhaps Carcillo helps
    with the team’s psyche early in the game, but you would think a player
    like JVR might be more effective the deeper into the game the Flyers

    2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 4: Flyers not worried about top line's struggles

    Carter2.jpgThe top line of the Philadelphia Flyers have not had a good series
    against the Hawks, but the rest of the team isn’t really all that
    worried about it.

    After all, the Flyers survived until the third round without leading
    scorer Jeff Carter. Simon Gagne’s return in the second round helped
    spark the Flyers’ historic comeback against the Bruins, yet since
    scoring seven goals in seven games against the Bruins and the Canadiens
    he has just one point in his last five games. Still, the Flyers keep
    winning and the rest of team has found ways to step up and make up for
    the lack of production from their best players.

    Coach Laviolette is far from worried, and says he was pleased with
    what he saw from the trio on Wednesday night.

    “You’re talking about really three of our top goal scorers on the
    team, there are others as well,” Laviolette said when asked about
    potentially breaking up the top line.

    “But those three guys are capable of putting the puck in the net.
    Their opportunities are there. Their chances are there. And I think
    what I look for anyway in a line is: are they getting looks? Are they
    getting opportunities? And they are. Some of them are hitting the net.
    Some are getting blocked. Some attempts are missing the net. But the
    chances are there. So we’ll continue with that line.”

    One aspect of the top line’s lack of production has been the
    continued struggles of Jeff Carter. Carter returned from his injury in
    Game 4 against the Montreal, and scored two big goals against the Habs
    in the series-clinching game. Since then, the top line of Gagne,
    Richards and Carter is a combined minus-15, with just one goal and
    three points between them. Carter has yet to show that he can keep up
    with the tremendous pace of the series so far, and has yet to get to use
    his true speed and goal scoring ability.

    Mike Richards isn’t ready to put the blame on Carter, however, and
    says he sees improvement each game in his linemate.

    “I think when you’re not on the ice for a long period of time, your
    hands, it takes little bit to get back. I think they’re coming back.
    He’s starting to get more shots there now. The little areas, the little
    passes, in the corner I think he’s obviously doing a lot better job of
    finding those seams, and the little plays through people.”

    During Wednesday’s game I noted that Mike Richards didn’t exactly
    resemble the captain of a Stanley Cup winner, as he struggled all game
    long with sustaining pressure on the Blackhawks and made several poor
    decisions as he pressed and tried to make plays that just weren’t there.
    I wish I could find a note I made on Carter, but there weren’t any —
    Carter was nearly invisible.

    Whether it’s just the injury that’s
    holding him back, or the incredible play by Duncan Keith and company,
    there’s no doubting that the best players on this Flyers team are
    struggling and Carter is at the center of that. Thankfully, this is a
    team that has survived due to its dept and this is a team that is
    supremely confident in its role players continuing to make a difference.

    said it for over a week now, but the Flyers will eventually need Carter
    and the top line to make a difference. For now, we’ll continue to cover
    their struggles; something that’s not as big a deal after they’ve won a
    big overtime game at home.