Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Daily News,
They don’t seem to have anything in common except for their hometown of Gatineau, Quebec.
Danny Briere is a quick, skilled hockey player. If he is arguably the most talented player on the Flyers, he is certainly the smallest.
Hugo Girard has won the title of Canada’s strongest man five times and was the subject of the 2003 documentary Strongman. He is 6-foot-3 and 330 pounds with, he is quick to point out, “about 10 percent body fat.”
Scott Burnside of ESPN breaks down both the East and the West Conference Finals…
The Flyers, who won five of eight matchups against Pittsburgh during the regular season, will try to establish a physical tone with the skilled Penguins, who have shown a surprising level of grit of their own. Both teams have displayed timely, balanced scoring, superb defensive play and stellar goaltending. Oh, and did we mention they can’t stand each other? Stay tuned.
The Detroit Red Wings, meanwhile, struggled midway through their opening-round series against Nashville but took advantage of woeful netminding by Jose Theodore and cruised to a four-game sweep of the Colorado Avalanche in the West semis. The Stars, who have terrific depth down the middle, now have an identity they lacked the past three or four postseasons. Marty Turco, fresh off a 61-save effort, will represent a much sterner test than the Avs, or he should.
Still, the Red Wings seem to be firing on all cylinders and will be very difficult to knock out.
Here are the final confirmed times and dates of the Eastern and Western Conference Finals.
Below, a couple updated brackets people might find useful.
The Conference Finals Previews from The Hockey News:
What’s old is new again in the West with two perennial superpowers butting heads, while in the East two young teams that both spent time in the NHL’s basement are rising to the challenge of establishing themselves as legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.
It’s amazing that since the 1996-97 season the Dallas Stars and Detroit Red Wings won four Stanley Cups between them, but only faced off against each other once, when 10 years ago the Wings downed the Stars 4-2 in the Western final.
Meanwhile, the Eastern final has become the battle of Pennsylvania, where the gradually maturing and shifty young Penguin stars will battle the sudden revival of the big, bad, banging Flyers.
However the series play out, the Stanley Cup final will be the showdown of old and new, experience and youth, persistence and patience.
TSN picks a hero of the second round, from each team that made it through to the Conference Finals:
[Philadelphia:] R.J. Umberger, who was considered a third or fourth-line player at the start of the season, has become Philadelphia’s top gun in the playoffs. Case in point: He scored an eyebrow-raising eight goals and nine points in five games against the Habs, and scored the first goal for the Flyers in each victory. While many credit Martin Biron for stellar goaltending that held off the Montreal offence ( and deservedly so), Umberger, a former first-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks, broke down the Canadiens early and often.
more heroes from Detroit, Pittsburgh and Dallas
via Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
“The playoffs are always intense but it throws a little spice into it when it’s Pittsburgh and Philadelphia,” said Crosby, who finished the afternoon with a pair of assists.
“If you want a rivalry, there’s one right there. I’m sure everyone’s well aware of it.”
more on the Eastern Conference Finals…
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
So Pittsburgh is, to some degree, a different team than that which Philly played all season.
What is consistent, however, is that opponents continue to underrate the Philadelphia attack, and it’s costing them.
The Flyers have been the most prolific offensive club in these playoffs with 43 goals in 12 outings, despite the fact they played Washington and Montreal, two teams that most analysts would have regarded as more talented offensive teams.
In the regular season, the Flyers scored more goals than Pittsburgh and ended up with seven 20-goal scorers, a list which didn’t include playoff menace R.J. Umberger, who grew up near Pittsburgh.
Interestingly, however, seven of Umberger’s 13 regular-season goals came against the Penguins.
Game times aren’t available yet, but here is the schedule as we know it for the Eastern and Western Conference Finals starting this week. (Update May 5th: times and dates finalized and available here)
from Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer,
These Flyers had the worst season in their history a year ago. Now they are in the final four. They had the worst record in the NHL a year ago. Now they have knocked off the No. 1 seed to advance to the Eastern Conference finals.
“Last year?” said R.J. Umberger, who scored two goals last night and a stunning total of eight in the five-game series. “We almost didn’t make the playoffs this year. We had to fight at the end of the season to get in.”
What’s the French for destiny?
from Tim Wharnsby of the Globe and Mail,
The Montreal Canadiens regular-season success meant nothing in the playoffs.
Unable to get on track against the Philadelphia Flyers in the second round of the playoffs, the Canadiens suffered their fourth defeat in a row — this time 6-4 — and were eliminated in five games.
Tied at 4-4 late in the third period, Scottie Upshall put the Flyers ahead with three minutes and four seconds remaining in the game on a deflection goal off a Jeff Carter shot. Mike Knuble checked in with an insurance empty-net goal in the final minute.
added 10:49pm, Watch Flyers coach John Stevens in his post game press conference via TSN...
Watch game highlights below…
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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