Flyers and Blackhawks jump out to early series leads

The Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks have taken a one game to none in their Conference Final series…the Hawks winning a close, hard-fought battle of the goalies, while Philly flat-out B-slapped the Habs.

After spotting the Boston Bruins a 3-0 lead in the first period of Friday night’s game-seven, the Flyers have scored 10 straight goals. Four came against the Bruins to complete their historic come-from-behind series win, and the all six Sunday night as they shut out the Montreal Canadiens to open the series.

Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn scores in the first period during Philadelphia 6-0 route of the Montreal Canadiens Sunday night (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)

Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn scores in the first period during Philadelphia 6-0 route of the Montreal Canadiens Sunday night (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)

Impressively enough, all six of the goals scored came off the sticks of six different Flyer skaters. Braydon Coburn… remember him?… James van Riemsdyk, Danny Briere, Simon Gagne, Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux each netted one in the 6-0 beat down of the Canadiens.

Jaroslav Halak was chased halfway through the second period after allowing 4 goals on 14 Flyers’ shots. Flyers goalie Michael Leighton stopped all 28 he faced and he has turned aside 94 of the 98 shots taken against him since coming on to relieve the injured Brain Boucher in game five of the Bruins series, (.959 SV%).

As bad as this was for the Habs, I wouldn’t count this team out. They were outscored 17-9 in games two, three and four to fall behind 3 games to 1 against Washington in the opening round, then stormed back to win three consecutive to upset the President’s Trophy Winning Caps. They trailed 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 in their series against the defending cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins…but won games six and seven.

That being said…Philly has looked more like a top-seed then a seven-seed this past weekend.

Earlier in the day the Chicago Blackhawks got by the Sharks out in San Jose 2-1 behind Antti Niemi’s 44-save gem.

“He’s been good for us all year”, Blackhawk’s forward Kris Versteeg said of his Goalie. “Everyone seemed to be doubting him except us. We’re confident in him”.

However, Versteeg admitted that the skaters in front of Niemi have to step up their defensive play by adding, “We have to give him a lot more help than we did tonight”.

After Jason Demers’ power play goal gave the home team an early lead in the first period, Patrick Sharp tied the score in the second and then Dustin Byfuglien netted the game-winner at the 13:15 mark of the third.

Although there were only 3 goals scored in the game there were a total of 85 shots taken. Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov stopped 38 of 40 while Niemi allowed just one on 45 San Jose shots. Niemi is now 9-4 during the playoffs with a .918 SV% and 2.44 GAA.

Jonathan Toews had an assist in the win and his 21 overall points leads all skaters so far in the post-season, as do his 15 assists.

Both series will resume Tuesday night.

118 comments Add your comment

Brendan

May 16th, 2010
11:45 pm

I wished the NHL staggered the games, so that we get one each night. I don’t understand why they are playing both series on the same day. Great Game One, for Chicago. Philly’s still on fire. That’s 5 wins in-a-row.

kracker

May 16th, 2010
11:51 pm

I agree Brendan! Insanely poor scheduling, maybe they will go night-by-night hereafter.

Two good games tho…a tight one in San Jose and a bit of a spanking in Philly. It’s only one game in each series, nobody’s celebrating yet. Well, maybe a little.

JLH

May 16th, 2010
11:57 pm

The problem with the scheduling is venue availability…… The league wanted to begin the western conference on Saturday but the San Jose arena had been scheduled months in advance….. Both teams play again on Tuesday and the alternate night schedule begins on Thursday and continues for the remainder of the semifinal games……..

Nate

May 17th, 2010
7:07 am

Great game to watch yesterday between the Hawks and Sharks. The series is gonna be awesome to watch. Go Hawks! On the downside, Firebirds was dead yesterday. I will definitely be trying TJ’s next time.

World Be Free

May 17th, 2010
7:48 am

It would have been nice to have had a game Saturday night. I had to watch the Thrashers’ finale against Pittsburgh Saturday!

World Be Free

May 17th, 2010
7:51 am

The Flyers have more questions in goal than answers. Bocher played great and he got hurt, now Leighton is making the saves in net. I wonder if Philly is considering resigning one or both of these guys for next season and NOT persuing a goalie in the off season?

That would be one less team in the mix for the available goaltenders.

steve

May 17th, 2010
8:06 am

Nate,
I was up at TJ’s last Saturday watching Pens/Habs. It was DEAD.
NOBODY was there. Just giving you an fyi. Service was great though.

kracker

May 17th, 2010
8:22 am

If there’s a game on Saturday, perhaps a TJ’s Rawhide fueled gathering will put some people in there. And get Lisa or Sean to alert the fan club members. What do you think RH?

World Be Free

May 17th, 2010
8:31 am

Any news on whether Carter is coming back for the playoffs?

Brendan, still think Philly management has painted the Flers into a corner, but it’s a good corner right now! Pronger was invisable during parts of the season, but he looks so dominant right now. Great on the back end, initial passes out of the defensive zone and a tremendous wrist shot.

What about Montreal? They fire Bob Gainey for his off season moves and now they are in the hunt because of those moves! Reminds us of the mid 80’s when the Habs fired Irv Grundman (spelling), replaced him with Serge Savard and they won the Stanley Cup! Savard smoked a cigar and celebrated on someone else’s work!

Funny how that happens.

Rawhide

May 17th, 2010
8:37 am

kracker – A TJs gathering Saturday is a great idea…Philly will be playing in Montreal. However, I’ll be watching my oldest tax exemption’s graduation ceremony that day.

kracker

May 17th, 2010
11:01 am

Ah, ok Bill, that will be a nice day for you and the family.

If anyone wants to go to TJ’s on Saturday, count me as part of the group.

R. Stroz

May 17th, 2010
11:40 am

Has anyone else noticed the Thrashers haven’t re-signed any of their NHL level UFAs or RFAs?

For the Thrashers, the season ended a month ago…tick..tock…tick…tock

Seems like off season procrastination all over again.

Dwayne

May 17th, 2010
11:49 am

I’d give RD a pass on signing some (maybe not all) of the ufa’s/rfa’s at this point, I believe he wants to have a Coach in place, could be risky if he does not get who he wants. remember…I.D.W.T.

Red Light

May 17th, 2010
11:55 am

Gainey resigned, uh sort of, was not fired.

“I believe that the GM position requires a long-term vision and a long-term commitment,” Gainey said. “At this point I’m not prepared to make a commitment of four, or five, or six more years in this position. The decision between leaving a little too early or staying a little too long — between those two choices I prefer to leave a little bit too early. I’ve done my best. Now it’s time for me to pass the torch.”

Injury updates from the Philadelphia Inquirer
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren vehemently denied a report that Jeff Carter, sidelined with a broken foot, would return by Game 3. Holmgren said it was “a stretch” to think that Carter would return in this series. . . . Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov missed the game with a knee injury and may not play in the series.

Red Light

May 17th, 2010
12:16 pm

There have been 21 contract signings since the 1st week of April in the NHL and only three were roster players during the 2009-10 season, and all are goalies. (Lehtonen, Gustafsson and B. Johnson).

But, if you want to be proactive, why wait?

World Be Free

May 17th, 2010
12:18 pm

Red Light-I think there’s more behind the series in Montreal than we see. I believe Gainey was told he would be fired if he did not step aside. Neither side wanted the public display, so Gainey took one for the team. A long term commitment is what is required for any GM position.

Stroz-not many UFAs have resigned anywhere, so I am not so concerned at this point. So many other teams have major cap issues; the Thrashers have no such issues. I am certain Duds is sitting back waiting to see who will be available either by trade or by UFA. Thrashers should be looking at Dennis Siedenberg, after passing him over last season.

World Be Free

May 17th, 2010
12:29 pm

http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/33533-Fantasy-Pool-Look-Ducks-Thrashers-offseason-report.html

I believe it was noted when he was hired, that Dudely had been in contact or would soon be in contact with all the Thrashers’ UFAs. I would like to see every one of the desired UFAs signed by now, but I am not (yet) losing any sleep over it. 45 days until free agency starts, if there’s no change in 30 days, well then I’ll take note.

I think Max would be the most important UFA. Max has goals and relative youth, the combination of which could be difficult to replace. Nik, Max and Bergfors is a pretty good line.

Red Light

May 17th, 2010
12:33 pm

I’m going back to another post I made a week or so ago and have revised it. How many European d-men are currently playing in the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals?

Timonen, Krajicek, Hjalmarsson, Hamrlik, Spacek and Wallin.

World: I like Seidenberg a lot, but we have too many Euros as it is!

kracker

May 17th, 2010
1:05 pm

Dwyane…shouldn’t that read ‘I.D.W.W.T.’? – In DW We Trust? Sorry…

Rawhide

May 17th, 2010
1:09 pm

If I’m not mistaken, the Thrashers normally do not re-sign anyone this early on. Last year the first re-signing was Marty reasoner…and that didn’t happen until June.

Besides, there is no real rush. Let the new coach come in and give his assessment of whom he would/would not like on the team. If a player like…oh I don’t know…say Colby Armstrong doesn’t fit into the new “system”, then why have him anchored here for a couple seasons?

World Be Free

May 17th, 2010
1:16 pm

Red Light-I agree, sort of.
Siedenberg’s game is more North American.
What about Hamhius?

MB

May 17th, 2010
1:44 pm

Interesting that two of the key components in the trades that helped the Thrashers to their one and only playoff berth are now facing off in the Eastern Conference Finals. Glen Metropolit was part of the Tkachuk deal while Braydon Coburn was dealt for our old pal Alexei.

Out in the West, former Thrasher Dany Heatley is battling one of the players he was swapped for in Marian Hossa.

Out of those four, I’d most like to see Metro get to hoist the Cup. Even though he was a Thrasher for less than a full season, you can’t help but like the way the guy plays and how he’s worked so hard to play in the NHL. Unfortunately, I can’t quite find it in myself to root for the Habs. The Hawks are my favorite team left, and though I remember well how he tanked in his last month or so with us, I still don’t bear a grudge against Marian Hossa, so I wouldn’t mind seeing him/them win it all.

As for Coburn, I like the kid fine and thought we gave up on him too soon (DUH5). Only problem is he plays for Philly, and I can’t stand them, so I’ll be cheering against Braydon and his Flyers. At the bottom of the heap is our original golden boy, Dany Heatley (sorry Patrik). It’s amazing how he’s fallen in my eyes. Seemed like a good kid, tons of talent, a lock for future captain. Now I just can’t stand the guy.

And I used to kinda like the Sharks, but they Syracused me. I’ll explain…when I’ve participated in Final Four pools, Syracuse is frequently one of the top contenders, usually a top 5 seed or so. Almost without fail, if I picked them to do well, they’d lose in the first or second round. And each time I’d decided that I wouldn’t be fooled again and picked them to lose early, they’d have a great tournament and make a long run. Regardless of what I did, I always lost points on them. For a number of years, the Sharks have clearly been one of the top teams in the West, yet every time I think “this is their year,” they mess the bed and take an early exit, usually in the second round. So basically I’m just sick of them, and when they added Heatley to the roster, they instantly fell into disfavor.

So I’m hoping for a Chicago v. Montreal final, with the Hawks winning. Given my betting history, this means that instead it’s the Sharks taking out the Flyers in an epic seven game series that’s instantly hailed as the greatest ever. And Heatley will win the Conn Smythe.

kracker

May 17th, 2010
2:23 pm

World – Dobbs has Vishnevskiy making the team or if not, he might play in Russia. hmmm, that’s the first I’ve read that losing Vish to Russia may be a factor in making a spot for him. Don’t think there’s room to fit both Vishnevskiy and Kulda into the current defensice corps. I am assuming Kubina is resigned or if not that another top d-man will be signed.

Kubina (or replacement)
Hainsey
Bogosian
Enstrom
Oduya
Valabik
Vishnevskiy
Kulda

That’s eight, one too many.

I think Kubina or en equal must be on the team so what to do? Trade one of the bottom three? Trade Enstrom? (umm maybe for fair good return) Hainsey? (don’t think so) Keep Kulda or Vish (if he will) languishing in Chicago?

kracker

May 17th, 2010
2:29 pm

[[Why do the typos only jump out at you after you submit your post?]]

Alan R.

May 17th, 2010
3:18 pm

Dale Tallon is now the New GM in Florida.

GaVaHokie

May 17th, 2010
3:44 pm

Was just contemplating something that I’ve brushed off a few times, but now I think has some merit…

What would everyone think of Rick Dudley trading the 24th pick for Brad Richards? Dudley’s familiar with him from Tampa, he has leadership quality, playoff and Cup experience…

Would you rather see the 24th pick go for a “Dave Andreychuk” type player like Richards? Or, a youthful, RFA building block like Versteeg?

Red Light

May 17th, 2010
3:53 pm

Caps give Backstrom 10-year, $67M deal after 101-point season

kracker

May 17th, 2010
4:00 pm

At $7.8M? Don’t think so, not if they want to sign a top blue liner. I think Dudley is thinking to sign a vet leader at third to a quarter of that. And maybe for a couple of years.

World Be Free

May 17th, 2010
4:02 pm

GaVa-not a bad move, if we can resign Richards when his contract is up?
Dallas has a self-imposed cap of $45M and Richards does not fit under that cap.

Red Light-are you in favor is Vish?

Alan R-left’s hope he’s learned how to manage a cap!

Red Light

May 17th, 2010
4:11 pm

World: I’ve never seen him play. I actually prefer keeping Kulda and Boris for the time being.

Maybe Tampa Bay will hire Mike Smith as GM and then the Southeast Division will be 60 percent tied to the Blackhawks’ organization. Does anyone find this slightly humorous that a team that hasn’t won the Cup in 49 years is suddenly the cradle of hockey talent evaluation and a season after Tallon and Dudley leave town they’re going to have to blow up part of the roster because of cap constraints?

And once again, the NHL and its brethren continue to use retreads rather than hiring new blood. No doubt someone will hire Keenan too. Very disturbing trend. I guess no one else knows hockey other than those who have been in the game for 40 years. It ain’t brain surgery is it?

World Be Free

May 17th, 2010
7:04 pm

Red Light-the best thing that ever happened to the Hawks is when Old Man Wirtz went boobs up.

World Be Free

May 17th, 2010
9:20 pm

Kracker- I don’t think Richards will get $7.8M anywhere.

Sorry about the Wirtz comment, I guess.

kracker

May 17th, 2010
9:48 pm

WBF – say tango uniform (military talk for t u = toes up) instead :) That’s what Neil Boortz uses when talking about an expired person.

Richards: Would love to have him…at half the price. I don’t think this organization as currently funded can afford a Kovalchuk level of salary for him.

I’m just hoping the hockey oriented owner search is going well and the Thrash can spend north ot $48-50M next year. Best scenario is that an agreement has been reached except for the paperwork and Dudley already knows or will soon know that he will be given the budget necessary to upgrade the team.

Brendan

May 17th, 2010
11:19 pm

Hey, I don’t know if anyone’s already talked about it, but has the NHL given any inkling about what will happen with the cap? Will is stay exactly the same? Be slightly reduced? Thus far, the cap has done nothing but increase every year, however marginally. When do they set the cap date?

Brendan

May 17th, 2010
11:40 pm

WBF & Red Light, it will be interesting to see what teams like Philly, Chicago, SJ, and Montreal do, given their salary cap issues. I think each one of these teams will be forced to jettison a minimum of one quality player that they otherwise WOULDN’T, without a salary cap. For Montreal, I do think Carey is that odd player out. It’s very, very interesting to see what SJ will do the pending UFA Patrick Marleau, a -2 in his last game. Also, Nabakov is a pending UFA. In Chicago, Duncan Keither big contract, along with Toews and Kane’s, is about to kick in. With pending RFA’s Hjalmarsson and Hendry on the Chicago blueline, I find it interesting that Hjalmarsson is playing over 4 minutes a game more than Brian Campbell, who is making $7.14 million per season. If someone offered Chicago a nice package for Campbell, they might unload that bad contract. But what GM thinks Campbell’s really worth $7.14 million-per-year? For all I know, Campbell has an NTC or NMC. I’m fairly sure that Chris Pronger has an NTC with the Flyers. His $7.5 million will be harder and harder to stomach for Flyer fans, as he ages.

For all four of these remaining teams, a sense of urgency should be upon them. Is Montreal any kind of “lock” to return, should they falter here? Philly? It doesn’t look “bad” in Philadelphia, but they’ll have be prudent in their roster decisions. SJ’s window is closing. This postseason is huge for them. And for Chicago, I do think the Blackhawks can return next year, but again, they’ll have to be careful about offseason moves.

The good news in all of this, as a hockey fan in general, is that some team is going to end its drought. Chicago’s last cup was 1961; they are officially on the clock. They lost in 1971, 1973, and 1992. Philly is next, at 1975. The Flyers have lost their last five trips in 1976, 1980, 1985, 1987, and 1997. The SJ Sharks have never won, but been in the league since 1991. And Montreal’s last Cup was 1993. That’s not exactly ancient history ago, but for any Habs fan, it’s the longest stretch in their lifetime without winning a Cup.

Red Light

May 18th, 2010
7:27 am

Boston is after the Hawks and Leafs, Brendan. They last won in 1972.

World Be Free

May 18th, 2010
7:55 am

Kracker-I’ll take your advise! It is odd that Chicago has all of sudden become the “think tank” of hockey.

Brendan-The salary purges of the teams noted (and others) will be the most interesting stories of the summer. I see a couple UFAs signing July 1, then a lull as teams and players evaluate their individual situations. Most of the teams in trouble with the cap right now overpaid at some point around July 1 of some year, either paying a new UFA big bucks or keeping one of their UFAs from hitting the open market. Of the teams you have noted, only San Jose is not guilty of overpaying a new UFA on July 1. The Sharks have built from within and made some nice trades. Other teams will be in the mix too, clubs that did not make the final four but have aspirations of getting to the conference and Stanley Cup finals. They will want to shed salary to sign Kovy or Marleau. Both players will take up alotta cap space.

These teams can save face by picking up a top pick or a highly rated prospect. I think “Vish” and/or the #24 pick will be bargaining chips the Thrashers can parley into a top 6 forward. This is what we need out, a guy who can step in and make a difference. I believe our #1 goalie will come from free agency.

If Dudley is “the man”, he’ll earn his pay between late June and early July.

World Be Free

May 18th, 2010
8:07 am

Here’s an abbreviated list of UFAs and possible teams from Eklund.
Some interesting predictions-Eklund is rarely correct, but he makes for good reading-

1. Ilya Kovalchuk Ana, NYI, NJ, Tor, LA
2. Sergei Gonchar Atl, Edm, Dal, Ott, Phx, Pit
4. Anton Volchenkov Dal, Edm, Ott, Pit
7. Paul Martin Car, LA, NJ
8. Alex Frolov Ana, Cbj, Mtl
9. Willie Mitchell Ana, Car, Colorado, Was
10. Dan Hamhuis Buf, Cgy
11. Alex Ponikarovski Atl, Cgy, Cbj
12. Chris Mason Phl, StL, TB, Was
13. Ray Whitney Bos, Buf, Car
14. Zbynek Michalek Fla, Phx
15. Matthew Lombardi Ott, Phx, Tor
18. Jose Theodore Chi, NYI, StL, Was
20. Bill Guerin Cbj, Pitt, StL
21. Marek Svatos Col, Fla, Nas, Tor
22. Jere Lehtinen Buf, Dal, Min, NJ
24. Olli Jokinen Atl, Bos, Fla, Nas, NYR, Pitt
26. Tomas Holmstrom Det, Ott, Van, Mtl
30. Dan Ellis NYI, Phl, StL, Was
31. Colby Armstrong Ana, Atl, Phx, Pit, Van
32. Martin Biron Buf, Chi, NJ, NYR
33. Dennis Seidenberg Bos, Cgy, NYI, SJ
35. Henrik Tallinder Atl, Buf, Col, LA, TB
36. Craig Conroy Buf, Ott, Cgy
37. Andy Sutton Car, Edm, NYI
39. Brett Clarke Atl, Buf, Col, Min

Scares me that Eklund agrees with me on Gonchar possibly coming to ATL.

glovesave29

May 18th, 2010
8:26 am

RL – forgetting about the Blues and Kings (1967 expansion) Canucks and Sabres (1970 expansion)?

Hockey Biltong

May 18th, 2010
8:30 am

Boo!
Go Habs!!!

World Be Free

May 18th, 2010
8:39 am

Glovesave-toss in Minnesota – the city/state on the clock; stars won in Dallas. North Stars and Wild and Cup;less since 67.

Brendan-there is a temptation to take on Campbell’s contract, IF the Hawks tossed in a #1 or prospect to make it worth your effort! Getting rid of Campbell’s contract and burying Huet int he minors would be HUGE to Chicago. It would allow them to keep their core players and not have to dump a top 9 forward or top 6 defenseman, other than Campbell. Do you agree?

I know that sounds crazy, but the Flyers were rumored to be doing the same last summer with Briere, dangling van Rymsdyk as the motivation to take Briere’s commitment. This rumor was nver confirmed, but there has to be something to it.

GaVaHokie

May 18th, 2010
8:41 am

WBF… the most interesting trend I see is Kovy, Frolov and Army rumored to Anaheim. That would almost constitute a “campaign”.

Kovy, Frolov and Army joining forces with Getzlaf, Perry, and Ryan… possibly a final Cup run for Selanne… maybe even Paul Kariya (rumored return).

World Be Free

May 18th, 2010
8:45 am

Take it further folks, you have dealt for Campbell, a power play QB and puck moving defenseman. Now, you can deal Toby who is young and under contract for a few seasons.

Campbell is probaly worth $5M/season so you will overpay him. How will your offense perform with one of the best puck movers in the game on the backline?

kracker

May 18th, 2010
9:02 am

Packaging Vish/Kulda for a legit top 6 fwd sounds workable, WBF. As noted, we should have expendable defensive assets, assuming Kubina or an equal is signed.

Does everyone agree that the major pieces won’t commit or trades be made until we have a head coach?

glovesave29

May 18th, 2010
9:11 am

WBF – as a franchise, the Stars did take it in 1999 – much to the chagrin of the Sabres fans…but it did happen. Foot in the crease or not. The Wild are a different entity all together, so I cannot place them on the longest drought list.

kracker

May 18th, 2010
9:11 am

Ha! Would be ironic if Campbell got traded here after primarily using Atl as a bargaining chip two years ago.

World Be Free

May 18th, 2010
9:19 am

kracker-would be crazy, but not out of the question.

I do not believe anything will happen on trades until after the Stanley Cup finals. I really believe these trades will occur in the days up to the draft and through early July, especially with players with NTC that go into effect July 1.

Coaching decisions are effected based on whether Chicago makes the SCF.

GaVaHokie

May 18th, 2010
9:24 am

<em?Ha! Would be ironic if Campbell got traded here after primarily using Atl as a bargaining chip two years ago.

Reminds me of that Seinfeld episode… “So, you’re saying you held out for LESS money?”

GaVaHokie

May 18th, 2010
9:24 am

…dammit… Trixie? A little help?

glovesave29

May 18th, 2010
9:31 am

Why move a contract that is stifling the Hawks onto our ledger? Learn from their mistakes, don’t help them to get out from under them. Let the Hawks and Rangers struggle to get out from under their reckless spending ways by having to trade off younger, more inexpensive talent – i.e. their future. Trading Toby is a huge mistake. The guy had his face crushed in during last years worlds and did not show even the slightest change in his game. You want tough? That’s it to me! The guy can skate like the wind, takes the proper angles on D, has shown the ability to run the PP – why on earth do you part with that?