Kukla's Korner Hockey
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,
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.”
from the Washington Times,
This was playoff hockey, something Washington hasn’t seen since 2003, and perhaps no one has seen anything quite like this before in Washington, which has seemed to transform like never before, into — yes, a version of Hockeytown.
“It’s hard to get wilder than it has been the three previous [home games],” Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. “But I had to grab the guys and tell them they were up because they couldn’t hear me.”
Veteran great Sergei Fedorov, who has been part of Hockeytown with the Detroit Red Wings, said the crowd support was incredible.
“I had a broken stick and I couldn’t hear it break because it was so loud,” Fedorov said.
In case you missed Ovechkin’s game winner, watch it now…
from James Duthie at the Ottawa Citizen,
When your favourite NHL team doesn’t make the playoffs or is headed toward quick elimination in the first round (not that you’d know any team like that), hockey fans can do one of two things: Turn off the TV, go outside and rake the ... ah ... snow, or go to Plan B and bandwagon-jump another club.
C’mon, we all do it. It doesn’t mean you have to buy their car flag. You just quietly release your inner Angelina Jolie and adopt them for a couple of months.
And right now, the Washington Capitals are harder to resist than a puppy in a shelter.
ESPN had a poll up earlier today, asking the question: “Who are you going to watch Friday night?”
Results are below, including a map pinpointing the origin of the results. Find out if your part of the country is more hyped for Crosby or AO.
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 Bill Clement at NBC Sports,
Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. The two best players in the NHL and in a real treat for hockey fans they’re both part of this year’s playoffs. Their careers are in their infancy and will forever be the subject of comparison and debate. The test of time may or may not definitely answer which one was greater.
As for the present, it’s fun asking which would be the choice if one were starting a team from scratch?
If in reality such a decision had to made, it would be the greatest can’t-lose proposition in the history of hockey. The possibility of being wrong would not exist.
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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