Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer,
Game 6 or bust. That has to be the Flyers’ mantra after they were outhustled and outsmarted here in Game 5. The Caps’ 3-2 win may have been the last wild punch of a beaten team desperate to save face with its home fans. Or it may have been more proof that these young Capitals have figured out how to play in the postseason and have taken control of this series.
The best and perhaps only way to prevent that is to win Game 6 tomorrow night at the Wachovia Center.
“Maybe I’m crazy,” said coach John Stevens, who is not. “But I always start at seven and work backward. If you are able to sweep the series, that’s a bonus for you, but I always go into a series thinking we are going to play seven. If we have an opportunity to finish it in less than seven - we had that opportunity today - good.”
from Adam Proteau of the Hockey News,
In my recent playoff predictions, I said the Flyers/Capitals series would be close, high-scoring, and ultimately decided by Washington’s Cristobal Huet outplaying Philadelphia’s Martin Biron in goal.
The Flyers still led the series by a game after Saturday’s 3-2 win by the Capitals, so my pick still needs a wing and a prayer to come true.
But as Huet showed in Washington’s second win of the series, he has to pull nearly as much of a load as Alex Ovechkin and the rest of the Caps’ talented youngsters if his team is to make it to the second round.
via the AP,
Right wing Mike Knuble is out for the rest of the Philadelphia Flyers’ playoff series against the Washington Capitals. He suffered a torn left hamstring in Saturday’s Game 5 loss. Knuble, who scored the winner in double overtime of Game 4, appeared to catch his skate in a rut while attempting to block a shot late in the second period.
from Ed Moran of the Philadelphia Daily News,
“We’ve really got to remain grounded,” said John Stevens at practice yesterday morning, fresh off the Flyers’ double-overtime win in the Wachovia Center on Thursday night. “That was an emotional game. Both teams played well, both goalies played well, and we were fortunate to get the win.
“In a playoff series, momentum, if you lose a game, it can be crushing. If you win, it’s elating. You take pride in each game, put it behind you and go to the next one.”
That’s what Stevens will continue preaching: Focus on the moment.
from Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post,
But as the Capitals trudged off the Wachovia Center ice tonight, 4-3 losers in double overtime, the pain of the present was all these 20-somethings could consider. They had lived and died over and over again for four hours, and now they trailed three games to one in this best-of-seven first-round series with the rowdy Philadelphia Flyers. Their hurt was compounded by how hard they had fought, overcoming what could have been a crippling first period, roaring back to take a 3-2 lead into the third period, only to be eventually undone by more youthful mistakes, needing a win Saturday at Verizon Center to extend this magical season.
read on (reg. req.)
In the column, tiled “Beaten To the Punch,” Wise called the club “an instant repudiation of what (Commissioner) Gary Bettman wanted the league to become” and “a reminder of the NHL’s pugilistic past that just won’t go away.”
“They flat-out market and sell violence here, sanctioned, unbridled assaults disguised as sport,” Wise wrote. He also said, “Many of the women and children in the crowd looked as if they could be security for Megadeth.”
The Flyers planned to distribute 20,000 copies of the article at Thursday night’s game, but the Post sent a cease-and-desist order. So, what did the Flyers do? They put the article up on the big screen over the ice surface, Clark reported.
One Flyers public relations official also wore a long-haired wig and a black shirt with the heavy metal band’s name emblazoned across his back Thursday night.
Read Mike Wise’s original article [link may require free reg.] that appeared in yesterday’s Washington Post.
from Dan Gelston of the AP via USA TODAY,
Is he frustrated by his lack of production? Nope
Is the Flyers physical play affecting him? Nah.
Would a possible line change help? Hope so.
About the only thing Ovechkin would admit after Wednesday’s practice is that he’s had enough of the losing. Philadelphia owns a 2-1 series lead over the Capitals and Washington, which entered the postseason as one of the hottest teams in the league, has lost consecutive games for the first time since Feb. 23-24 entering Thursday night’s Game 4.
“I’m frustrated we’re losing,” Ovechkin said. “It’s not about scoring, it’s about winning.”
fro Ed Barkowitz of the Philadelphia Daily News,
Late in the second period, Briere would get in Huet’s kitchen again. This time, the goaltender knocked down Briere well after the play. Briere responded with a shot of his own. Both drew roughing minors after referee Don Koharski had seen enough.
“Sometimes the refs think he gets pushed into the goalie, but it doesn’t happen that way,” Huet said afterward. “If somebody does push him, he’s exaggerating. They’re not cheap shots. Everyone is trying to [go to the net] these days.”
Briere scored a killer power-play goal 3 minutes later.
“Look,” Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Danny Briere’s a pretty good hockey player, but we should be able to battle through that. We lost our cool too many times on retaliation penalties.”
from Sam Donnellon of the Philadelphia Daily News,
“The network guys aren’t going to like you for this,” coach John Stevens was told after the Flyers handcuffed the Washington Capitals yesterday, 2-0, at times making the raucous Verizon Center sound more like the nearby Smithsonian.
Stevens smiled that Cheshire cat grin of his and walked on. From the moment Friday night’s 5-4 shootout ended, he had defended his game plan, blaming the number of goals and the Flyers’ third-period meltdown on “self-inflicted wounds” and “poor execution.” What transpired in front of him yesterday - huge stretches when the high-flying Caps did not have a shot, a neutral zone that often resembled the drive-time Schuylkill and not the European autobahn of Friday night - was what he envisioned happening on Friday.
from Ted Leonsis at USA TODAY,
It does feel great to be able to lose a game and NOT have the season be over. We have basically been in a situation where we have been playing Game 7 eliminations during the regular season. We know now that we could lose three games this series and still move on to the next round—so no need to panic quite yet.
It is a series now. We go play Games 3 and 4 in Philly—we had the ‘Red Out,’ they will have the ‘Orange Crush.’ NHL playoffs are so much fun but so tense and hard to predict.
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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