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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.
[Update] Leino is back out on the ice, and is fast and feisty as ever.
The 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
“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.”
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
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.
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.”
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.
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
“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.
Seeing 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
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