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The Puck Stops Here

Game Three Thoughts

The Stanley Cup finals continued last night.  The Philadelphia Flyers won.  The story is that now we will have a series.  Chicago is not going to win in four straight (it may take them five or more games).  This is a forgettable Stanley Cup finals series played between teams that are not historically elite (and in Philadelphia’s case arguably the worst team to make the Stanley Cup finals ever).  In lieu of quality hockey, we have had close games.  Every game so far has been a one goal game and game three was decided in overtime.

Why did Philadelphia win game three?  I think the biggest reason is a coaching mistake made by Chicago coach Joel Quenneville.  Quenneville has been trying to match lines with the Flyers throughout the series.  At home where he has the last change, this has been a possibility, but but on the road where the Flyers have the last change this is much more difficult.  Immediately after a faceoff, win or lose, the Blackhawks were attempting to change lines in game three.  That is a good way to give up momentum after a faceoff win and to distract the team from playing their game of hockey.

Instead of trying to score a goal and to prevent Philadelphia from scoring, Chicago is trying to make a line change.  They have been given priorities that are further removed from playing winning hockey than Philadelphia is. 

Both of the Philadelphia even strength goals (the first and second Flyer goal were both scored on the power play) occurred a few seconds after a faceoff.  Chicago had just completed their line-matching line change and in doing so gave up the puck to the Flyers.  Philadelphia scored the tying goal by Ville Leino and the winning goal by Claude Giroux as the Blackhawks were getting back into the play after an unnecessary line change.

Joel Quenneville is the man most responsible for Chicago’s game three loss and he did it by outsmarting himself.  He tried to play an unnecessarily difficult line-matching game and that extra difficulty distracted Chicago from playing their game at critical points in the game allowing Philadelphia to score the tying and winning goals.  Let’s see if Quenneville has learned from game three or if he repeats his mistakes in game four.

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I think you are answering the question Why did the Flyers score a pair of goals? rather than Why did Philadelphia win game three?

The Flyers won Game 3 because they out hit and out shot the ‘Hawks and they were superior on special teams and in the face-off circle.  Add in a bit of luck and Viola! you have a winner.

Basics, my friend.  Basics.

Posted by ProjectMayhem on 06/03/10 at 03:56 PM ET

Leo_Racicot's avatar

“This is a forgettable Stanley Cup finals series played between teams that are not historically elite (and in Philadelphia’s case arguably the worst team to make the Stanley Cup finals ever).”

I beg to differ with your assessment of this series not being good due to the quality of teams playing (using the Flyers as the heavier weight). 

On paper, the Flyers were a playoff lock going into the start of this past season.  Like many other teams that have played in the NHL, they faced adversity and to their credit they overcame it with some luck on the last day of the regular season.

They destroyed a very good Devils team in the first round, overcame a 3-0 series defecit in the second round and took care of the team that defeated the defending cup champs and the #1 seed. 

Historically, if you compared the Flyers to some of the teams in the existing era of the NHL I would argue that they are a much deeper team.

Name me more than five members of the 2003 Ducks (#7 seed) that came within one game of winning the cup against the Devils?  How about 10 players in the Oilers(#8 seed)-Canes 2006 series?  TBay-Calgary (#7 seed)?

No disrepect to any of these teams I just mentioned, as I’m of the impression that any team that makes it to the cup finals is of “good” quality. 

Further, attempting to take Chicago’s presence down simply because they have no recent history of success shows a lack of reality in the post-strike era.  Young teams (avg age of roster less than 27) are flourishing in this league.  Hell, this team just made it to the conference finals last year.

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 06/03/10 at 04:06 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

I beg to differ with your assessment of this series not being good due to the quality of teams playing (using the Flyers as the heavier weight). 

My assessment of this series not being particularly good quality hockey comes from watching it.  Game one was particularly bad.  Games two and three were worse than average Stanley Cup playoff games of the recent past - but far from the worst (that may have been game one).

I am not saying the series is low quality hockey due to lesser quality teams playing in it.  I am saying this series is bad (especiailly when compared to Stanley Cup finals - thats a high level to be compared to).  Further I am explaining that the reason for this is that the teams involved (Philadelphia especially) are not historically elite.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 06/03/10 at 04:13 PM ET

Leo_Racicot's avatar

Why did Philadelphia win game three?  I think the biggest reason is a coaching mistake made by Chicago coach Joel Quenneville.

Is that why they won games one and two by one goal?

I think it’s great to point out the line juggling strategy, but to say that is the supreme reason why a one goal OT game in a series where each game has been decided by one goal comes up a litle short in my opinion.

The things that the Hawks were able to do against Vancouver and San Jose are not that obvious in this round. 

I would point to the Hawks first three games against Nashville as being a more appropriate depiction of what is taking place in this series.  They are facing an opposition who seems content to clog up the neutral zone and they are having problems playing the style of hockey that saw them throttle the Canucks in three of the last four games of that series along with the four game sweeping of the Sharks.

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 06/03/10 at 04:14 PM ET

Leo_Racicot's avatar

I am not saying the series is low quality hockey due to lesser quality teams playing in it.  I am saying this series is bad (especiailly when compared to Stanley Cup finals - thats a high level to be compared to).  Further I am explaining that the reason for this is that the teams involved (Philadelphia especially) are not historically elite.

The Hawks made the conference finals last year, the Flyers made it there two years ago.  By your definition, what makes a Stanley Cup finalist historically elite?

I do agree that game one was terribly executed by both teams and viewers were rewarded with a high scoring one goal discrepancy.  Games 2 and 3 have been very well played on both ends of the rink.

Curious, using a 10 point scale, how would you rate a few of the more recent finals in terms of participants and quality of play?

Canes/Oilers
Lightning/Flames
Ducks/Sens

I’m leaving the Pens/Wings stuff out of this due to the readers on this site and emotional trajectory that could spin off of such an assessment.

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 06/03/10 at 04:19 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Definition of what makes a team historically elite is here.

I do not know how to rank various series on a 10 point scale (or any other scale) unless we establish what the units of the numbers mean (and that is a non-trivial question).  Nevertheless, here are my relative rankings of the series in question based on the quality of hockey I saw.

1) Ducks vs Sens
2) Lightning vs Flames (very close behind one)
3) Hurricanes vs Oilers (well back of the top two)
4) Blackhawks vs Flyers (at this point anyway - a solid end to this series could realistically move them into number three)

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 06/03/10 at 04:27 PM ET

Leo_Racicot's avatar

Dig the site and the careful thought applied to your analysis back in 2006.  That is some good stuff that continues to stand the test of time, thanks.

I’m still not following the rationale for how you are ranking quality from those previous series; I digress with badgering you on that topic smile 

Your leaving the door open to this series having a chance to move up your scale of quality is groovy by me.  It’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out, unless Niemi goes down a la Rolly back in 06.

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 06/03/10 at 05:36 PM ET

YzermanZetterberg's avatar

Definition of what makes a team historically elite is here.

Welcome to the new NHL, where parity = a party and elite has been permanently shortened to lite due to cap constraints.

Posted by YzermanZetterberg on 06/03/10 at 06:47 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Welcome to the new NHL, where parity = a party and elite has been permanently shortened to lite due to cap constraints.

A serious problerm for the fan.  Because teams want to make more money we no longer get to see as good quality teams.  This manifests itself most obviously in the Stanley Cup finals, where there are no elite teams to play against each other and we often wind up with lacklustre match-ups like we see this year.  You should be angrily complaining about the NHL for doing that to you.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 06/03/10 at 06:59 PM ET

Teebz's avatar

A serious problerm for the fan.

Why is this a serious problem? Explain to me how making more teams more competitive so that the playoffs and the races to gain playoff spots is less exciting for the fans. Are you complaining because there are less dynasties and more competitiveness? Really?

If this is the case, why don’t NFL fans bitch and complain like you do? They’ve had parity for a long time, and yet they also operate the most successful business model of the four pro sports leagues. Seems to me like parity is a good thing.

Because teams want to make more money we no longer get to see as good quality teams.

I fail to see how making more money results in less quality teams. Since all teams are required by league rules to not spend less than $40.8 million, teams have to guarantee that they spend in or around the same amount as everyone else. Any money and success seen by the owners is directly a result of their management groups and their development systems putting quality players on the ice.

If you want to complain about the salary cap, that’s fine. Be my guest. But if everyone is required to spend the same amount of money, the disparity between teams comes as a result of their management and development teams. This is why Detroit has been a powerhouse for so long. This is why Chicago is following that model. This is why the New York Islanders and Atlanta Thrashers have never been legitimate threats for anything but the basement of their respective divisions.

And I disagree that we see no good teams. Unless, of course, you’re saying that there will never be any “elite” teams in the NHL whatsoever since all owners want to make money. After all, that’s the ultimate goal of the salary cap from your view. Is that your claim - we’ll never see another elite team ever again?

Do you happen to know why the Montreal Canadiens of the 1950s were so good? Do you know why the Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s were so good? It wasn’t because they spent tons of money. It was because their management, scouting, and player development systems were so good in identifying good talent, developing that talent, and keeping that talent in town long enough to reap the benefits.

All the salary cap has done is leveled the playing field. Now, the GMs and scouting teams actually have to do real work, identical to what we saw before the salary boom in the 1990s. No longer can teams sit on players forever unless the player is willing to accept a lesser salary once he becomes a star. That means that the search for talent is an ongoing thing. Again, the management and scouting teams need to work hard or harder than their 1980s counterparts. This is why some teams are perennially bad in the cap era - they have terrible management and scouting.

This manifests itself most obviously in the Stanley Cup finals, where there are no elite teams to play against each other and we often wind up with lacklustre match-ups like we see this year.

Why do you view the matchup as lacklustre? Who, exactly, would you like to see in the Final?

Oh right… it doesn’t matter who you want to see in the Final. Why? Because they lost. They weren’t “elite” enough to defeat a team ranked lower than them in the playoffs, and are now watching the same “lacklustre” teams that you are.

Meanwhile, you’re pissing all over the fact that these two teams have some of the greatest young talent assembled on them from the past few draft years - Toews, Kane, Keith, Seabrook, Richards, Carter. But you’re right - it’s lacklustre.

What a crock.

You should be angrily complaining about the NHL for doing that to you.

You’re the only one who has their panties in a knot. If you don’t like the NHL or the Stanley Cup Final, stop writing about it. Otherwise, shut your trap about how shitty the Final is, sit back, and enjoy the hockey.

You are a fan, aren’t you? Start acting like one instead of being a pretentious jackass.

Posted by Teebz on 06/04/10 at 02:23 AM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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