Stanley Cup Update through two games:
Talk about two totally different games thus far at the United Center. Game 1 featured an abundance of offense,poor goaltending, and sloppy defensive coverage. Last night's game was all about old time physical hockey that consisted of verbal jabs, players hitting their own teammates, thrown elbows, you name it. I total of 72 hits were dished out last night. Personally, I enjoyed last nights game and felt both teams put everything they had on the ice. What these last two games proved to me was the amount of depth that the Chicago Blackhawks actually have. Considering that Toews and Kane have not registered one point yet, they are getting production from Marian Hossa, Dave Bolland, Tomas Kopecky, and Ben Eager. The Flyers probably can match up with Chicago's top six forwards, but after that, Chicago has a huge edge.
What can the Flyers do to make this a series and win Game 3?
Let's start with playing their 5th and 6th defense pairing as little as possible. Lukas Krajicek and whomever the pair him with whether it is Oskars Bartulis or Ryan Parent, are simply not getting the job done. I feel like every time I see Krajicek on the ice he is either turning the puck over or getting rammed into the boards and down on the ice. Peter Laviolette is getting some criticism and rightfully so, for having his 5th and 6th defensemen on the ice for a faceoff in his teams zone, which led to the Hossa goal.
We expect Philadelphia to feed off the energy and Wakovia Center on Wednesday night and they will need to continue to play physical right from the drop of the puck. For whatever reason it appears that the Flyers have come out somewhat flat in the opening period physically in both games. If the Flyers continue to stop the Toews line, and stay out of the box which they did in game 1, and killed off all three penalties in Game 2 they have a chance. Michael Leighton would probably want the Ben Eager goal back, but overall he was solid last night and plays very well in Philly. They will also have to try to rattle Niemi by getting more bodies in front of the net, and hopefully some of the shots that Chicago blocked last night, will find a way through in Game 3. Obviously, this is a must win for the Flyers, even if some of their fans point out that they were down 0-3 to Boston and came back. News flash, the Bruins are not on the same planet as the Blackhawks. The Flyers have been resilient all playoffs but are facing a team that has won 7 straight on the road.
Niklas Lidstrom signs for one more year:
Attention Red Wing Haters: He's Back! The guy simply will not go away even at age 40. This morning Lidstrom signed a one year deal with terms not disclosed. Mike Babcock indicated that he felt Lidstrom would be back and it will be interesting to see what he signed for and how it will effect the salary cap for Detroit. Last season Lidstrom made $7.5 million, so if he is re-signed at close to that number it will be difficult for the Wings to be active this summer. I have a hunch though that he is signed for considerably less than this season.
AHL Finals: Texas Stars vs. Hershey Bears
Series begins on Thursday night as the Hershey Bears appear to be the favorite. Keep an eye on some of the Texas players, because with the murky ownership situation in Dallas, it's a good chance that some of these players will be suiting up for them next season. All indications are that the Stars will be looking to cut salary this offseason.