Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.
from Adam Proteau of the Hockey News,
Most of the credit for the win will go to Martin Biron’s mastery in Philadelphia’s net, and much of the fault will go to Caps defenseman Mike Green and sniper Alex Semin. I don’t wholly disagree with that diagnosis, but above and beyond scapegoating, I think you saw (a) Washington grow more tentative and jittery after they failed to score despite having five of the game’s first seven power plays; and (b) the Flyers grow more confident in Biron and their defense after that point.
more and a few additional NHL topics…
from Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer,
Biron will be back in the net today. Stevens is smart to stay with the anointed playoff starter, at least for now. Changing goalies is a little like changing quarterbacks. It’s a move that can look like panic if a coach makes it too quickly or too often. Besides, if Stevens does have to go to Antero Niittymaki, it will be very tough to go back to Biron….
“Four goals should be enough in a playoff game,” Flyers forward Mike Knuble said.
It is if the goaltender can make a great save or two, or if you don’t hand the puck to the league’s leading scorer late in the third period….
Nothing tells you more about a coach than a playoff series. This is Stevens’ first in the NHL. He and his staff did a solid job of preparing for the Capitals. That much was clear from Game 1.
Now comes the real test: guiding this team through a series it proved it can win, even as it found a way to lose.
via Capitals Insider,
There’s some positive news to report regarding injured Flyers forward Patrick Thoresen. I’m told that his injury is not as serious as originally thought, and that it’s possble he’ll play tomorrow.
from Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer,
Ovechkin fetched the loose puck and slid it back to Green. This time, Green fired a shot over Biron’s glove hand to tie the game at 4.
It was a good shot. A shutdown goaltender - a wartime goaltender - stops it.
It isn’t time to overreact. This isn’t Roman Cechmanek wandering around while opponents fire pucks into his empty net. It was Biron’s first playoff game, and he acknowledged a case of nerves.
“There were some jitters early in the game,” Biron said. “We’ve got to get into our rhythm.”
Flyers coach John Stevens, asked merely to evaluate Biron’s play, immediately took the opportunity to mute possible criticism. He has a series here, after all.
“Obviously you have a 4-2 lead there,” Stevens said. “Guys stepped in and teed up from some difficult places to see. . . . We’re in this together here.”
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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