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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.

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    2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 4: Will Carcillo be a scratch?

    1 Comment

    Coach Peter Laviolette put Dan Carcillo into the lineup in Game 2 in an effort to give his team an infusion of energy and physicality early in the game. After Carcillo spent the first period going absolutely crazy on the ice, including one heck of a hit on his own teammate, he was limited in the second half of the game and rarely saw the ice in the third period.

    In Game 3, it was much the same as Carcillo again asserted himself early in the game. During one crazed shift he made several big hits along the boards before being called for a charging call, one that seemed obvious to most but Laviolette felt was a “good, clean hockey play.”

    Still, Carcillo was planted on the bench in the third period and overtime and never saw the ice when the game was on the line.

    The deeper into the Cup finals and the deeper into games these teams get, the coaches will certainly be shortening the benches in an effort to keep their best players on the ice. Still, after such a grueling postseason it would be nice for the Flyers if they did not have to rely so much on their top two lines. After all, the depth of this team is what got them this far.

    Laviolette refused to say whether the speculation was justified, but it certainly seems as if there’s a good chance that James van Riemsdyk is back in the lineup tonight. Granted, that doesn’t necessarily mean Carcillo is coming out. Both skated hard this morning, although Carcillo was out on the ice much longer than JVR. Speculate if you will, but signs point to Carcillo not being out on the ice tonight for Game 4.

    2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 3: Giroux perfect example of Flyers' resiliency


    Giroux.jpgIf we didn’t know it before, then we sure as heck know it now: the
    Philadelphia Flyers are one of the most the resilient teams we’ve ever
    seen in the postseason. At the heart of this team is a group of
    determined forwards, who may not be the biggest stars in the NHL and
    certainly don’t get as much attention as Jeff Carter, Dan Carcillo or
    Mike Richards, but who are more important to the Flyers’ success than
    any other.

    Claude Giroux, Danny Briere and Ville Leino have lifted this team up
    and placed them squarely on their own backs. In every deep postseason
    run you need role players to step up and play the best hockey of their
    lives, but I don’t think anyone anticipated the level these three have

    They don’t play together, at least not all of the time, but these
    three have been the difference in the postseason for the Flyers. Giroux,
    who scored just 16 goals in 82 regular season games, now has 8 goals
    and 17 points in the playoffs. He’s scored big goal after big goal, and
    none has ever been bigger than his tipped goal that came 5:59 into the
    first overtime.

    With that tip, coming off a great play by Matt Carle at the point and
    perfect anticipation by Giroux, the Flyers avoided a 3-0 hole in the
    series and made things very interesting heading into Game 4.

    “It’s huge. I don’t think guys want to do a comeback again from
    3-0.” Giroux said. “So it was tough losing the first two games. If we
    want to give us a chance to win the Series, we need to win this game
    tonight. The message was pretty clear before the game, and guys showed

    Giroux played some inspiring hockey against the Bruins and the
    Canadiens, but had disappeared a bit in the first two games of the
    series. There was no doubt that if the Flyers would pull off a comeback,
    they’d need better play from the players a bit farther down the depth
    chart. Giroux says that’s something he and his teammates were focused on
    after the two games in Chicago.

    “Anytime you’re not producing or playing well, you are just going to
    keep it simple and go back just working hard. I think we did that, and
    we tried to win as many battles as we could.”

    Coach Laviolette says that Giroux was perhaps pressing too much,
    playing too tight as he played in his first Stanley Cup finals. With the
    series now back at home, the Flyers focused on just playing their game
    in front of their home crowd, something that seemed to help Giroux in
    the end.

    “We talked about just having some fun tonight, come out and letting
    everything roll,” Laviolette said after the game. “Go after him, and I
    think he took that advice, because he was smiling all day. He came to
    the rink and went out and played a great game. Sometimes you need to
    loosen up a little bit. He’s a talented kid.”

    Giroux, Briere and Leino all made tremendous plays tonight, but for
    them it was just the same thing they’ve done all postseason long. None
    of the players seemed overly excited about the win or their plays,
    instead wanting to immediately focus on Game 4 and evening up the

    Leino in particular has come to life for the Flyers, and is perhaps
    the biggest surprise of the playoffs. After the game he was soft spoken
    and humble, saying that the Flyers “know exactly what we have to do” and
    that for them this is just business as usual.

    All postseason long the Flyers have found ways to overcome adversity
    of any and every sort, but it’s something the Flyers have become
    accustomed to. Laviolette believes that his team is at it’s best when
    their backs are against the the wall.

    “It’s been for a long time. Like I said this morning, 2-0 for us is
    comfortable. We’re okay with that. We know how to battle through it.
    We knew how important the game was tonight. Once we wake up
    tomorrow morning, we know we have to hold serve on home ice. I think
    the guys will be fine with that.”

    This morning, the Flyers were one hell of a confident bunch and it
    seemed as if they reveled in the fact they were facing a must-win
    situation. They were calm and business like, yet loose and never acted
    like a team that was down two games in the Stanley Cup finals. Yet no
    matter what the circumstances, no matter how matter of fact the Flyers
    are about this win, there’s no doubting how big that goal was for Claude
    Giroux. This is one he’s going to remember for a long time, yet he’s
    still focused on the task at hand.

    “It’s obviously a big goal. It’s probably my biggest goal in my
    career,” he said with a grin.

    “I’m happy I was able to do that. As quick as we can put this
    game behind us and be ready for game 4, it’s going to be huge. There’s a
    lot of emotion tonight. But I think it’s important that we just focus
    and be ready for game 4.”

    2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 3: Live Game Chat


    Welcome to another live chat on Pro Hockey Talk. We’re going to be doing things a bit differently this time around, as tonight we have a couple of special guests joining us for the chat.

    Bob Sturm, of 1310 The Ticket in Dallas, Texas, will (hopefully) be joining to give us some of his expert hockey opinion.

    Ryan Porth of RLD Hockey will also be with us.

    Also with us tonight will be the eponymous The Royal Half, who will grace us with his witty banter after the first period.

    We hope you join us for what should be a fun chat and an even greater hockey game. The chat will kick off around 7:45 EDT or so.

    Don't worry Flyers fans, the Hair Man is back


    IMG_0366.JPGIt’s been four long years, but the Hair Man is back in town.

    Page of Wilmington, Delaware, known amongst the Philadelphia faithful
    as “Hair Man”, spent ten years as a Flyers season ticket holder before
    having to take a bit of a sabbatical four years ago. Now that the Flyers
    are in the Stanley Cup finals, there’s no way he was going to sit on
    the sidelines any longer.

    You can catch him all game long in
    section 114, although he promises he won’t be sitting for very long
    while he does everything possible to get the crowd fired up for the
    game. One thing he won’t promise: foul language.

    He believes in
    everyone having a good time, and had become somewhat famous for taunting
    the opposing team during the pre-game warmups. Yet he says he does it
    all in a family-friendly manner, never going overboard and never using
    foul language.

    As we walked through the crowd, we quickly learned that the rest
    of the Flyers fans won’t make the same promise. These fans, already
    fired up as they taking in a few beverages before the game, were quick
    to point out that the Flyers will not only win the next of these two
    games but should have won the first two as well.

    Kevin Muller, a
    season ticket holder for the past 20 years, contends that the Flyers
    just need to find a way to get the goaltending and the offense to click
    in the same game. He’s also a big fan of Dan Carcillo and was ecstatic
    that the Flyers decided to insert him into the lineup. He may not have
    played much, Muller said, “but he sure is good for this team.”

    asked about the Flyers crowd, and whether the Blackhawks will have
    trouble with the atmosphere in Wachovia, Muller is much more to the

    “Philadelphia is the absolute toughest place to play in the
    NHL. That is a fact.”

    His friend, Chris Moore of Lafayette HIll,
    Pennsylvania, agreed. While there was no doubt amongst this group how
    great the Philadelphia crowd is, and how superior this crows is when
    compared to the Chicago crowd, Moore also looked longingly back at the
    days of the old Spectrum.

    “At the Spectrum, you were right on top
    of the ice. The Wachovia Center is just more….corporate.”

    just means the Flyers fans will have incentive to work that much harder.

    Robert Ritner, a season ticket holder since the early 1980’s, says
    that the Flyers just need to maintain their intensity for a full game.

    crowd will certainly help the Flyers get into the game early. The
    Flyers have finished games strong, they just need to start off better.
    The crowd will help with that.”

    Ritner, who says that this past
    season was a very tough one to get through for fans, is ecstatic that
    they’re in the Cup finals and says he’ll be perfectly happy with the
    season even if the Flyers lose. Still, this has been one heck of a ride.

    has been the greatest thing ever. I hate to see the season end.”

    also says that the Flyers’ secret weapon hasn’t worked all that well
    for them. When asked what that secret weapon might be, he responded very
    matter of fact:

    “Marian Hossa.”