Author: NBC Sports

2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 3: Flyers not feeling any pressure

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Flyers9.jpgIf there was one thing to take away from this morning’s skate, is
that the Philadelphia Flyers are nowhere near panic mode.

They looked calm, confident and focused and according to them, they
aren’t feeling the pressure.

They are down 2-0 against Chicago, and a loss tonight would put them
in the dreaded 3-0 hole. They’ve come back once this year against those
odds, but doing it again and in the Cup finals against the Chicago
Blackhawks is a completely different animal altogether.

Still, they say, there’s no pressure.

“I’m not sensing a lot of pressure,” coach Peter Laviolette said.
“As far as the building and the fans and the energy, I’m a big believer
in that. I say harness all of it and ride it as hard as you can. The
pressure, I’m not seeing it from our guys. I don’t see it in the
interviews. I don’t see it on the ice. I don’t see it in the locker

The players themselves stated the same thing and certainly didn’t
appear to be all that worried about their deficit in the series.
Instead, they’re focused on improving and focused on just winning
tonight. They’ll have their home crowd behind them this time, and while
I’m sure the energy will give them some extra jump they appeared to be
completely comfortable as they settle back onto their home ice.

“We’re a loose group,” Laviolette said. “We’re really comfortable
where we’re at right now, and we would like it to be the other way, but
we’re not. We’re comfortable here because we’ve been here too many
times. We’re looking forward to it tonight.”

Several players stated that while they’re not happy with being down
2-0 to the Blackhawks, this is a position they’ve been in nearly all
season long. This is a team that’s had it’s back against the wall, that
barely made it into the playoffs and have gone on a historic ride
through the postseason. Since Laviolette replaced John Stevens on
December 4th, however, he’s done nothing but get them ready for this

“We’ve been in a situation since Christmas where it’s been time to
pack it in,” he said. Everybody just go home. Call it a year. And yet
we’re still here. It’s the beginning of June. We’re pretty happy to be
here. And the guys won’t quit. They just won’t. That’s why I sit up
here today confident about our ability to win a hockey game tonight.”

2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 3: Does Pronger get away with too much?


Chris Pronger does not have a great reputation. He’s been suspended
multiple times in the past, and not always for just a bad hit — the
leg-stomping incident is about as bad as you can get.

That he ended up playing for the Flyers is only fitting. He was
brought in to provide not only great defensive leadership and veteran
experience, but to be that nasty guy out on the ice that no one wants to
mess with. The Flyers are a physical team for sure, but every team
needs a player that is — sort of — like Pronger.

A lot of the focus headed into this series has been on his matchup
against Dustin Byfuglien. After two games and a complete shutdown of the
Blackhawks’ top line, the focus has now shifted to what I think is one
of the oddest and dumbest incidents to debate over I’ve seen in a long

Chris Pronger stole the puck at the end of both games.

Oh my.

This has caused an incredible amount of debate to spill out across
the interweb, with many saying this is justification that Pronger is
nothing more than a jerk. Perhaps he’s a genius. It seems that everyone
is talking about Pronger and this puck incident instead of focusing on
what really matters.

Today, several of the Blackhawks were asked about Pronger. Other than
the postgame festivities after Game 2, he’s been relatively quiet. He’s
played solid and smart hockey, not allowing himself to get caught up in
any games with the rest of the Blackhawks.

Instead, it’s the Blackhawks that are now caught up in his game.
Patrick Kane was asked if perhaps Pronger gets away with more because oh
who he is.

“I think so. I think the refs probably know it too,” Kane said. “He’s
been in the league a long time. He gets away with whacks here and
there that he probably shouldn’t. Playing in the league that long, I
guess you kind of deserve something like that.”

Coach Joel Quenneville isn’t all that worried about it, and says that
Pronger is smart for being able to play like he does without taking too
many penalties.

“You have to commend Prongs for finding ways to get around it or
push the envelope, whichever — as far as, I guess, you can push it.
But he’s a smart player that is effective in a lot of ways. He finds
the way to take advantage of whatever situation it is that can give him
an edge.”

Perhaps Pronger went a bit too far in taking those
pucks, but it’s created drama for the Blackhawks while he’s easily
shrugged off any question directed his way about it. The Flyers didn’t
have much to say about it today and frankly weren’t asked all that much
about the incident.

I’m certain that Adam Burish will have
something to say though, and while he’s done plenty of talking off the
ice I’m certain he might have something to say tonight as well.

2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 3: Yes, Hossa is valuable to Hawks

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If the Chicago Blackhawks had lost the first two games of this
series, or even split them, then we might be talking about how Marian
Hossa is undoubtedly cursed.

This is his third straight Stanley Cup finals, and he’s the first
player to appear in three straight series with three different teams. He
was on the losing end in his two previous trips to the Cup finals, and
some thought that the Blackhawks adding Hossa was the kiss of death.

Hossa was almost magical for the Penguins in 2008, acquired at the
trade deadline to provide offensive firepower and he responded with 12
goals and 26 points in just 20 games, as the Penguins eventually lost to
the Red Wings. Last season, he made the switch over to Detroit, and
struggled with his production, scoring just 6 goals in 23 games as the
the Wings lost to his former team.

Hossa started the postseason this year in similar fashion, being
nearly invisible on the scoreboard as his team rolled through the first
three rounds of the playoffs. Thankfully, the rest of his team was
scoring and we were left to wonder if perhaps Hossa was pressing too
much as he fought to finally, finally hoist the Cup at the end of the

Coach Joel Quenneville wasn’t worried about his
struggles in the first three rounds of the playoffs.

really like the way he has progressed in the Playoffs as well. I’m
sure he’s excited about the third chance here this year. We really like
his contribution in the first two games. I think that line has been
very effective in a lot of ways.”

In the first two games of the Cup finals, Hossa has awakened. He’s
back to looking like the dominant player he can be and it’s none too
soon; with the top line of the Blackhawks struggling mightily, Hossa was
needed more than ever to step up his game. He has a goal and two
assists in the two games against the Flyers — not earth shattering
numbers but his efforts in other areas of the game that’s made the

Patrick Sharp is certainly glad he’s on the team this season, as he’s
been the difference maker they needed him to be:

“He’s been a great addition to the team,” Sharp said this afternoon.
“If you ask all 30 teams in the league if they want [Hossa] there they’d
take him gladly. We’re lucky to have him on our team.”

Sharp says that Hossa has made a difference for the Blackhawks, even
if he’s not putting up a ton of goals.

“He brings so much more to the club than just his goalscoring.
Everyone knows him because he scores 40 goals a year, but he’s one of
the best two-way wingers in the league. He’s a great locker room guy and
the fact that he’s been to three Cup finals is a great thing.”

Hossa looked the best he’s looked all postseason on Monday night in
Game 3, as he was a force along the boards and in front of Michael
Leighton. His determination was awarded with the first goal of the game,
as he beat several Flyers players to a rebound.

Despite not putting up big numbers, he’s been incredibly sound
defensively and has been a perfect example for the rest of the team on
how to still make a difference even if you’re shots aren’t hitting the
back of the net. He’s a plus-11 through 18 games, showing that he hasn’t
become overly frustrated despite not scoring at his usual pace.

Quenneville is convinced that Hossa is much, much more to his team
than just a goal scorer, and he allows the coaches flexibility with
their lines and matchups.

“For sure as a coach you have a lot more options with him on the
ice,” the Blackhawks coach said. “I think defensively he really provides
a lot of puck possession and defensive responsibility. Offensively if
he’s got the puck, he can make plays. That line has been a big factor,
and he’s a big part of it. “

2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 3: Andrew Ladd out tonight, still "day to day"

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Everyone’s eyebrows raised a bit today at the morning skate for the Chicago Blackhacks when Andrew Ladd skated for the first time with the team. He looked fine, didn’t seem to be all that limited and immediately we started to debate on who might come out for the Hawks if Ladd could play.

The first thought was Adam Burish, who hasn’t been getting that many minutes but who has been instrumental in negating the agitation the Flyers have tried to use against the Hawks. Or it could be Ben Eager or Tomas Kopecky, but both have been scoring big goals for Chicago while the top line has struggled.

Turns out they won’t have to worry about all that, at least for tonight, as Joel Quenneville says that Ladd is out tonight and is still “day-to-day” with his injury.

It’s a great problem to have, when the prospect of Ladd coming back into the lineup means that the Hawks will struggle with trying to find someone to pull of the ice. The Hawks have used their depth to get this far in the postseason and their depth is reason No. 1 that they’ve been successful against the Flyers in two games.

2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 3: Flyers taking aim at Antti Niemi

The Philadelphia Flyers were able to put significant pressure on the
Blackhawks and Antti Niemi in the third period, getting one goal off of
15 shots. Yet after the game, the Flyers didn’t feel as if they truly
tested Niemi and that while his play was good they never forced him to
make truly miraculous saves.

That’s a sentiment I agreed with as
well. The San Jose Sharks stated during their series against the
Blackhawks that they needed to get the puck up high on Niemi, to test
him and force him to make blocker and glove saves. He’s at his best down
low, using his butterfly and size to cover the bottom part of the net.

the Flyers continuously fired pucks at Niemi’s pads in the third
period. Granted, things happen in the game that force certain shots but
you have to wonder if the Flyers will be focusing on going high on Niemi
after scoring just one goal in Game 2.

After two games against
Niemi and the Hawks, coach Peter Laviolette agrees that the Flyers need
to be taking better shots.

“We didn’t do a very good job of
picking our spots last game,” Laviolette said after the Flyers morning
skate. “We need to do a better job of picking our spots.”

thing the Blackhawks did a great job of was keeping the Flyers attack to
the perimeter, and not allowing the top line of Mike Richards, Simon
Gagne and Jeff Carter to get interior penetration and get to those
rebound chances around the crease. The Flyers certainly need to take
better shots, but Laviolette says they’re also going to be focusing on
creating more traffic in front of Niemi.

“I’m a big believer in
traffic, I thought we could do a better job of getting to that area.
Always makes life a little bit more difficult for a goaltender. Tonight
we’re going to look at getting to those areas if we can, and fine tune
our shots a little bit.”

While the Flyers certainly are aiming to
create more havoc in front of Niemi, they did a pretty good job of that
in Game 2. Niemi was just too confident, too comfortable in his crease
and was covering his net perfectly, with several shots making their way
through traffic and finding Niemi’s pads.

The Flyers have played
well, with certainly plenty of room for improvement. Yet they’re a
confident bunch, and will be aiming to find the spots that Niemi tends
to leave open. Especially up high.

“There’s room there, I
think there’s other room as well,” Laviolette said when asked about
aiming high. “Things that we’ve talked about that we’ve tried to show on
video. We’ll get there.”