Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Ryan Dixon of the Hockey News,
For Philadelphia to beat Washington, Richards has to be the engine that drives the Flyers.
Certainly it’s important for Martin Biron to outplay Cristobal Huet in the nets; for Daniel Briere to be healthy and produce points; for the entire team to – as much as possible – clog the gears of the Russian tank known as Ovechkin.
But Richards embodies – albeit internally for the most part – that great fighting Philly spirit that must be unleashed to combat the assault Ovie is going to lay on the Flyers.
Richards, despite his modest size, is physical. He’s smart. Skilled. And most of all, he lives for this stuff.
Jason Smith did not take the morning skate but rode a bike and says he will play. Randy Jones still has a bit of the flu but skated and remains a pre-game decision. Philadelphia head coach John Stevens expects Jones to play, as well.
Steve Downie out with the flu. Believe he did not make the trip.
more pre-game notes on the Flyers
from Ed Moran of the Philadelphia News,
“The key is always more emphasis on the goaltender. If we believe it or not, it’s always going to be that way and goalies are always going to be at the forefront of the playoffs because it’s an important position.”
Good thing Biron knows that, because the Flyers’ playoff hopes rest on his shoulders, particularly against Washington. The best-of-seven series will open tonight at the Verizon Center.
Stacked together, the Flyers and the Capitals match up very well. Each has a crop of scoring forwards, though Washington does have Ovechkin, a player who can take over a game by himself.
from Rich Hofmann of the Philadelphia Daily News,
One player cannot halt him alone. It really does take a village to stop an Ovechkin. Saying that and acknowledging that, though, recent history suggests that one sweater among all of the black-and-orange sweaters will be greeting Ovechkin most of all:
No. 44, Kimmo Timonen.
“It’s going to be a big challenge, but I’m looking forward to it,” said Timonen, the Flyers’ smoothest defensive presence. “Taking his time and space away - that’s the key for me. If you give him too much space and time, he’s going to make a play, he’s going to shoot the puck. So, for me, going into the game, you have to make sure you’re right on him all the time and contain him.”
from Chuck Gormley of the Courier-Post,
The Flyers’ rationale heading into the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals that begin Friday night in Washington is simple. If Ovechkin spends more time exacting revenge on irritants such as Mike Richards and Scott Hartnell, he’ll spend less time firing rubber in the direction of Marty Biron.
“The big knock on Peter Forsberg was that you could get him playing more of a physical game instead of trying to score,” Flyers defenseman Derian Hatcher said. “I can see Ovechkin going that way. He seems like he might have that in him, where he’s more worried about hitting guys than he is scoring. If you can push him that way, yeah, that’s good. We’ll see. It’s his first playoff series, right?”
From the CP via TSN,
Flyers captain Daniel Briere practised on Tuesday for the first time since he injured his knee in a collision last week at Pittsburgh, and the star centre said he’s confident he’ll be ready to play against Washington.
‘‘Right now, I believe I’ll be in right from the get go,’’ Briere said. ‘‘That’s what I believe, but we’ll see how it improves. But I think I’ll be ready to go.’‘
from Chuck Gormley of the Courier-Post,
Now, after an equally long and circuitous career as a minor-league coach, Boudreau is where he has dreamed of being all along, playing for a Stanley Cup.
Much like his coaching counterpart, John Stevens.
On Friday night in Washington, Boudreau and Stevens will coach their first Stanley Cup playoff games when the Flyers visit the Capitals in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
Boudreau led the Capitals to a miraculous turnaround, taking them from 15th in the conference three months ago to a playoff-clinching victory in the final game of the regular season.
from the Philadelphia Daily News,
“We’re excited to play the Capitals,” said winger Scottie Upshall, whose second-period goal was all the scoring the Flyers needed against the Pens on this afternoon. “It’s going to be a good test. They have a great team. We’re pumped to be playing one of the best players in the world right now.”
How hot is Ovechkin? This hot: His 65 goals not only led the league, but were the most ever by a left winger and 13 more than any other player this season. Eleven of those goals were game-winners, also tops in the league.
Asked for his thoughts on playing the Caps, Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen said, “Well, obviously No. 8. That guy makes them go. They’ve probably been the hottest team in the league for a month-and-a-half. It won’t be easy.
“But if we play the way we did Friday [a 3-0 shutout of the always-troublesome New Jersey Devils] and [yesterday], for all 60 minutes, we’ll be OK.”
Emails start flowing in while I am trying to enjoy a nice little cook-out going on at the home-front.
Philly fans stating Crosby doesn’t want to playa against the big bad Flyers, blah, blah, blah!
Smart move in my opinion by the Pens. Better to have Sid as close to 100% for the first game of the playoffs and he does need rest.
from Seth Rorabaugh of Empty Netters,
As much as we all may have hoped for their demise, the Flyers had other plans. They beat the Devils last night, 3-0, and got into the playoffs.
Disdain for this vile organization aside, you have to hand it to Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren for getting this team into the playoffs. He was handed a bowl of dog food after Bobby Clarke stepped down last season and managed to turn it into a birthday cake.
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.
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