Hawks-Flyers, Game 3: Sharks aftershocks

182474.jpg

Hawks-Flyers, Game 3: Sharks aftershocks

Tuesday, June 1, 2010
11:20 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

PHILADELPHIA No matter how you try to slice and dice the Chicago Blackhawks, it comes up a loss.

In Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Philadelphia Flyers tried to run and gun with the Hawks, and fell short in a 6-5 shootout. In Game 2, the tempo remained high, per Flyers desires, but the game started as an all-out slugfest and Philadelphia came out on the hind end of another one-puck loss, 2-1.

Like the San Jose Sharks found out before them, the Flyers are starting to get the sense that short of poisoning the pregame platter of sammiches, theres no way to upend Chicago.

Not so fast. Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger, whose most memorable move of the Chicago leg of the Finals was to create an unnecessary and silly distraction for his team by picking up pucks and throwing them in the trash at games end, claims that Philadelphia learned a lot in Games 1 and 2. Of course, the gangly veteran made a similarly elusive, hush-hush, on the QT comment before the series about how hed handle Dustin Byfuglien, so the big fella might just be bluffing.

Meanwhile, theres little bluff in the Blackhawks game. They might not necessarily be able to account for exactly how theyve won nine straight, as center John Madden laughingly admitted on Tuesday, but they are finding ways to win.

Theres a lot that has gone Philadelphias way so far in the series, including an overall lead in shots and hits. But for Flyers fans going gaga over their heroes high-octane third period in Game 2, check yourselves. First of all, the club wasnt able to push in a tying goal, much less a winning one, despite a 15-4 shots advantage and Chicago clearly panic napping its way to the final horn. Second, consider that everyone and their sisters know the odds against a lower-seeded team rallying to win the Stanley Cup after dropping the first two games on the road (in case youve been under a rock, welcome back, and its just six percent); the Flyers were playing for the series on Monday and couldnt break through with an absolutely necessary win in Game 2.

Is the Finals undoubtedly over? Of course not. In fact, you have to like the odds of Philly riding the emotion of its return home and taking Game 3thus fueling a million and one I told you sos, Flyers comeback tales and Chicago choke sidebars. Listen, a Game 3 win for the Flyersif it even happensis just one game. The chances of taking four of five from the Blackhawks is somewhere in the vicinity of nil.

For now, the most memorable Flyers play of the Stanley Cup is Dan Carcillo plowing over Jeff Carter on Monday, then catching a little what-for from gangly banger Tomas Kopecky. That conversation shifted to the team benches, where a number of Flyers barked at Blackhawks and the Hawks fired right back. You wonder at what point Peter Laviolette steps in and suggests that, indeed, his Flyers ought to be barking a bit at one another and finding a way to send the series home deadlocked.

Well, too late now. Its been fun, Philly. But the Flyers had a chance to set the tone of the series with a game like Mondays from the outset, but chose instead to try to run with the fast dogs. It failedbarelybut hey, once the game is in the W column for Chicago, it stays there. Regathered with renewed aggression and determination in Game 2, Philly failedbarelybut hey, 2-0 is 2-0.

Close only counts when you spin Stanley Cup yarns for your grandchildren.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com'sBlackhawks Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter forup-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Fast Break Morning Update: Jonathan Toews powers Blackhawks past Canucks

Fast Break Morning Update: Jonathan Toews powers Blackhawks past Canucks

Jonathan Toews' four-point night paces Blackhawks past Canucks

Bad blood fueled Bears-Vikings playoff bout profiled in 'Bears Classics: Eclipsing Moon'

Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

Northwestern holds off Ohio State for fifth Big Ten win, first win in Columbus in 40 years

Marcus Kruger 'pretty close' to returning for Blackhawks

Cubs, White Sox react to tragic deaths of Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

 

Jeremy Roenick takes One More Shift for the Blackhawks

With losses piling up, things starting to get predictable for Illini — and not in a good way

Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

The Blackhawks' starts have been all over the map this season but their finishes have usually been strong. That was the case again on Sunday night as the Blackhawks took a lead, lost a lead and regained a lead for good in their 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

This one featured a little bit of everything. So let's just get to the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks' victory over Vancouver.

1. Jonathan Toews breaks through. If the Blackhawks captain's confidence was a little shaken with his lack of scoring this season, it should've gotten a boost with his Sunday outing. Toews' goal and three assists were as big for him as they were the Blackhawks, who needed every bit of it late against the Canucks. In his last 12 games Toews has three goals and eight assists. He's getting there. Said coach Joel Quenneville, "it seems like he was around the puck way more and when he does that, usually good things happen."

2. Great start. This hasn't been written very often but it was more than evident on Sunday night. If this wasn't the Blackhawks' best opening period of the season it was pretty close, as they broke out to a 2-0 lead against the Canucks. The Blackhawks, outside of a 3 ½-minute sequence without a shot on goal, were tenacious and ready to shoot, taking an 18-9 shots-on-goal edge in that first.

3. Corey Crawford rebounds. Quenneville considered Scott Darling for this game, an understandable thought with Darling coming off a 30-stop shutout. But he wanted Crawford to get back to where he was prior to his appendectomy, and Crawford took a step in that direction on Sunday night. In stopping 26 of 28 shots Crawford got his 18th victory of the season and 200th of his career. Quenneville said Crawford "looked like he was in control."

[SHOP: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

4. Michal Kempny’s tough stretch. When Kempny has been good this season he's been very good. When he's been bad... The defenseman was in the penalty box when the Canucks scored their first goal and he was beaten by Bo Horvat on the Canucks' second goal. Kempny didn't play the final 14 minutes of the game. Quenneville, who liked what Kempny brought on the team's road trip, said Kempny just has to work through some things. "Coverage with awareness and knowing sometimes it's man coverage, sometimes it's playing the puck and clearing the loose stuff," Quenneville said. "Defenseman is a tough position as you're growing and learning it, but the more you play the better you play and I still think he's making progress."

5. Brian Campbell gets to keep No. 500 this time. Campbell thought he had his 500th point against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night but it was taken away. Well he got it back on Sunday night, setting up Richard Panik's 11th goal of the season in the first period.