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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.”

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    Don Maloney named NHL GM of the Year


    To the surprise of absolutely no one, Don Maloney has been named the NHL General Manager of the Year. Here’s the press release:

    PHILADELPHIA (June 2, 2010) — Don Maloney of the Phoenix Coyotes is the 2009-10 winner of the NHL General Manager of the Year Award, the National Hockey League announced today. Maloney accepted the award in front of his peers at the NHL General Managers meeting held annually during the Stanley Cup Final.

    Voting for this new award was conducted among the 30 Club General Managers and a panel of NHL executives, print and broadcast media at the conclusion of the regular season. Maloney, George McPhee of the Washington Capitals and David Poile of the Nashville Predators were identified as the three finalists for the trophy last month.

    Maloney steered the Coyotes through an uncertain and turbulent off-season, charting the course for the most successful regular season in franchise history. His biggest move was hiring head coach Dave Tippett, who guided the Coyotes to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2002 by posting a 50-27-5 record for 107 points and setting franchise records for wins and points in a season.

    Maloney added several players to the Coyotes roster over the summer, acquiring RW Radim Vrbata, D Sami Lepisto, LW Lauri Korpikoski and D Jim Vandermeer through trades and signing veteran free agent D Adrian Aucoin, C Vernon Fiddler, G Jason LaBarbera, LW Taylor Pyatt and C Robert Lang. Those players joined a veteran core that already included LW Shane Doan, D Ed Jovanovski, D Zbynek Michalek and G Ilya Bryzgalov.

    With the Coyotes already enjoying a breakout season, the acquisitions of RW Lee Stempniak, LW Wojtek Wolski and C Petteri Nokelainen plus defensemen Derek Morris and Mathieu Schneider at the Mar. 3 trade deadline propelled the club to even greater heights as Phoenix won nine consecutive games immediately following the deadline to tie a club record. Stempniak was named the NHL’s First Star for the Month of March after leading the League with 13 goals in 14 games while Wolski recorded 18 points (six goals, 12 assists) in 18 games with his new club.

    Maloney, 51, completed his third season in Phoenix. He joined the Coyotes in May 2007 following 10 years in the front office of the New York Rangers.

    Maloney will be available to media at the conclusion of the General Managers meeting (Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia, approximately 4 p.m., ET).

    Video: Carcillo, Burish star in Sounds of the Game

    It’s too bad we couldn’t show these uncensored. I can only imagine the awesomeness that was the oral battle between Dan Carcillo and Adam Burish tonight.


    2010 Stanley Cup Finals: Video – Carcillo's rocky return

    1 Comment

    The Flyers put Dan Carcillo into the lineup to try and give the team a bit of a different edge, some attitude and some energy after the Flyers got away from what they do best in Game 1. After coming out of the gates with his hockey pants on fire, Carcillo spent most of the game not making much of a difference after all.

    Carcillo stated before the game that he was ready to come out, be energetic and basically cause problems for the Blackhawks and that’s exactly what he set out to do. Unfortunately, he ended up taking things a bit too far. While trying to lay out a bone-crunching hit on Tomas Kopecky, he accidentally took out his own teammate. Observe:

    Carcillo finished with 11:04 of ice time, three shots on goal and just two registered hits. He certainly made the Blackhawks focus on him in the first period, but was ultimately not the big difference maker some thought he might be before the game started.

    All of the focus before the game was what kind of impact Carcillo would have now that he was back on ice, and aside from just throwing his body around for a couple of raucous shifts in the first period he was largely invisible for most of the game.

    Carcillo certainly didn’t have a bad game, but perhaps the hype leading up to his return was a bit overblown. Still, without Carcillo’s return we wouldn’t have gotten the great play we see above.

    2010 Stanley Cup Finals: Blackhawks and Flyers still not at their best



    This has been a very entertaining series to watch so far, especially
    considering some of the bad blood that is developing between these two

    Still, it’s sad to see both teams fail to play their best two games
    in a row.

    The Chicago Blackhawks are still waiting for some kind of production
    from Toews, Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien. Granted, Byfuglien
    finally got a point in the game, yet the Flyers have done one hell of a
    job negating the top line of the Blackhawks. Conversely, the Hawks have
    shut down Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, with Simon Gagne finally
    getting a goal in the third period.

    The difference in this series has been the scoring depth of the
    Blackhawks, something the Flyers have no way of matching game after
    game. Both games have been just one-goal losses, so it’s impossible to
    say that the Flyers have been grossly outplayed. Yet in a seven-game
    series, if you take away the top lines for both teams there’s no
    doubting which one of the Flyers and the Blackhawks will have the
    advantage night after night.

    The Flyers were able to score five goals on Saturday night behind
    some timely goals by role players, despite their top forwards failing to
    register a point. For the second game in a row, Mike Richards and Jeff
    Carter struggled and it showed as the Flyers struggled to put together
    an offensive attack in the first two periods. The Flyers finally found
    their groove in the third period, yet the Flyers top players still
    failed to get on the board.

    Once again, the Flyers walked away feeling like they played well and
    just needed to improve. After the game coach Peter Laviolette said his
    team definitely finished better than they started.

    “I think we could have started a little bit better tonight. I’m not
    sure we should be frustrated,” said Laviolette. “I don’t think we got
    outplayed. I think when you’re at the end of the night you’re going to
    look at it again, probably outshot him, outchanced him a little bit and
    didn’t get the results we were looking for.”

    The Flyers certainly improved in Game 2, yet despite the coach
    feeling they shouldn’t be frustrated are now down 2-0 headed back to
    Philly. For the Flyers to have any chance of pulling off a comeback,
    they’ll need to get much more from their top players.

    The Blackhawks are facing a similar issue, still waiting for their
    best game to show up. Thankfully, the Flyers were more concerned with
    physicality and antagonizing the Blackhawks in the first period to worry
    about putting together a full 60 minute effort. Once again, the
    Blackhawks have relied a bit too much on the play of Niemi for their
    success, something the coach Joel Quenneville hopes will change in

    “We certainly didn’t want to spend that much time in our own end, and
    the quality that they’re getting, we had to be better,” said
    Quenneville after the game. “They’re coming, they’re pressing, and
    they’ve got a lot of guys that can make plays.

    “I think that’s,
    you know, that was one of those games where we’d like to spend some time
    in their end. We’d like to have some more puck-possession game, we
    started the game the way we’d liked. Second period we might have been
    fortunate coming out with some very timely goals.”

    If the Hawks and the Flyers both continue to have struggles with
    their best players producing, there’s no doubt the series favorites the
    Blackhawks. With a 2-0 series lead now, Chicago also has a significant
    advantage. Yet it’s been some timely saves by Antti Niemi and some bad
    bounces for the Flyers to keep this series from being more in the favor
    of Philadelphia, something the Blackhawks know must change moving

    Once this series gets back to Philly, the Flyers will become a much,
    much different team.