FLYERS at BLACKHAWKS
TV: NBC (HD), CBC (HD), RDS (HD)
(Chicago leads best-of-seven series, 1-0)
Big Story -- Flyers coach Peter Laviolette has a big decision to make before Game 2. Does he go back to Michael Leighton or does he stick with Brian Boucher? Leighton gave up five goals on 20 shots in just over 35 minutes Saturday night before he was mercifully pulled in favor of Boucher, who stopped 11 of 12 shots but gave up the winning goal to Tomas Kopecky as the Hawks grabbed a 6-5 victory. Laviolette said Sunday that all decisions will be kept internal, but it's possible we'll know who is getting the nod by the end of Philadelphia's morning skate Monday. Stay tuned.
Flyers -- Outside of the still pending decision on the starting goalie, the Flyers have had a lot to think about after Game 1. They left the middle of the ice open way too much and the Hawks burned them for goals. According to Laviolette, the Flyers were not as physically engaged as they should have been in the 1-on-1 battles. They won only 38 percent of the faceoffs. The top line of Simon Gagne, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter was shut out.
On the other hand, their second line of Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell and Ville Leino was by far their best. Briere had a goal and three assists. Hartnell, who played his best game of the playoffs, finished with a goal and two assists. Leino scored and had an assist. Chris Pronger was effective in helping the Flyers cancel out Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien. The good and the bad almost outweighed themselves in Game 1, but the result was still a one-goal loss.
"When we lose as a team, typically everybody could have done something better," Laviolette said. "Last night is a perfect example. Sure, our defense could have played better. Our forwards could have helped out a little bit more. Our goaltender probably would like a second look at some of those. We need to tighten it up."
Blackhawks -- It was a win and they'll take it, but the Hawks could do without the heart attacks that accompanied their 6-5 victory. Toews spoke about reacting better to when goals are scored both for and against. The Hawks rallied from behind three times to tie the game at 1-1, 3-3 and 4-4. They also blew leads of 2-1 and 5-4. Antti Niemi was uncharacteristically off his game, at least for these playoffs, in the first and second periods before rebounding with several solid stops in the third period. Just like the Flyers, Chicago's top line was blanked.
However, Chicago scored six goals without getting the advantage of one single power play in Game 1. You have to think that'll change, both in the amount of goals and the amount of power plays, in Game 2. Just like the Flyers' second line, the Hawks second unit of Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Troy Brouwer was excellent. The difference in the game, though, was Dave Bolland, Kris Versteeg and Tomas Kopecky. The checking liners all scored and had an assist to lift the Hawks to a win.
"When you're checking and you're being smart defensively, you're going to put your opponent in a situation where they are going to make mistakes eventually because they're trying to make the plays against you all night," Toews said. "Those guys worked hard from the ground up, they didn't take any shortcuts and it worked out there way. Obviously they are great on taking advantage of their opportunities."
Who's Hot -- Hossa still has only two goals in the playoffs, but he was the Hawks' best player Saturday. He set up Troy Brouwer on both of his goals and was again a factor on the penalty kill. … Hartnell took on the Byfuglien role for the Flyers and was a beast in front of the net.
Injury Report -- Hawks left wing Andrew Ladd remains questionable with a shoulder injury. … Philadelphia has no significant injuries to report.
Stat Pack -- Chicago also didn't get awarded a power play in Game 1 against San Jose, but it won that game as well, 2-1. The Blackhawks are converting at 22.6 percent on the power play in the playoffs. … If Bolland scores one more goal in the playoffs he will equal the amount he had in 39 regular season games. Bolland had 7 goals in the regular season, but already has 6 in 17 playoff games. … Flyers defenseman Ryan Parent played one shift totaling 41 seconds in Game 1 and was a minus-1. He was on the ice for Brouwer's goal 7:46 into the first period. … Blair Betts' goal in Game 1 was his first in the playoffs since April 24, 2006 when he was with the New York Rangers.
Puck Drop -- Pronger was asked Sunday about the Flyers proving that they can hang with the Blackhawks, who are considered heavy favorites to win this series. He had this to say:
"Favorite to who? To you guys? This crew in here? All that matters is what we think in that locker room. And that's it. We've all seen probably one of the most heavily favored Super Bowls, St. Louis against the New England Patriots. That didn't turn out very well, did it? A lot of people lost money on that one. I don't really buy into the favorites, underdogs, all that. I think from the get-go we believe we can beat that team. Do we need to tighten up a few things and play better defensively? Absolutely. That's why it's a best-of-seven series."