Hawks-Flyers, Game 3: Sharks aftershocks


Hawks-Flyers, Game 3: Sharks aftershocks

Tuesday, June 1, 2010
11:20 PM

By Brett Ballantini

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.

Blackhawks still trying to solve penalty kill issues

Blackhawks still trying to solve penalty kill issues

When considering the Blackhawks’ penalty kill, you can look at their 3-3-1 record in two ways: their record is mediocre because of it, or they’re still getting points despite it.

No matter how you look at it, however, the penalty kill’s malaise has to stop.

In seven games this season, the Blackhawks’ penalty kill has allowed 14 goals on 26 opportunities. Through their first seven games last season the Blackhawks were shorthanded 18 times, allowing three goals.

Looking at seasons overall, the Blackhawks allowed 46 power-play goals over 82 games last season. The kill allowed a scant 35 goals during the 2014-15 season and 46 goals in 2013-14.

Yes, the Blackhawks know it’s a big problem and they’ve talked about it and worked on it. So far, they just haven’t seen the results on it. Some have come off faceoffs. Some have come from long distance. Some have come off rebounds. It doesn’t seem to matter what they do: goals get scored. The Blackhawks will keep going back to the drawing board until they restore that penalty kill to its normal success rate.

“We talk a lot about the way we’re forcing it up ice, how we’re forcing it in the neutral zone, forcing entries, how we’re moving together as units, the personnel changes,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’ve tried a number of different looks on the back end, as pairs up front. We’re trying to find something that clicks. we haven’t gotten that confidence yet where we’re comfortable with just about any pairs right now. hopefully we can get that stabilized.

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“We know the importance of that influencing the outcome of games and sometimes it can win a game for us. But it’s been a real negative so far,” Quenneville added. “We got through three in a row there. hopefully that’s the start of something positive.”

The Blackhawks killed off the final three penalties they took against the Calgary Flames on Monday night. It was a shot of confidence for a group that needed it, and now they have to repeat that more often.

“We just kept our feet moving. We were working. Our shifts were 20 to 30 seconds tops,” Jonathan Toews said. “When you go that short you have the energy to outwork the power play and make up for being down one man. Yeah, I mean, I think that’s the key right there, and I think our systems fall into place when we’re all moving and we’re all skating the right way.”

Artem Anisimov said those three successful kills were “intense.”

“We were skating. We didn’t give so much time to set up in our zone,” Ansimov said. “It was like, always clear. We cleared the puck 200 feet and it was successful.”

The Blackhawks have been talking “baby steps” regarding their penalty kill the past few games. Killing three in a row off on Monday night could be one, but it means nothing if they allow another one in their next game. The penalty kill is broken. The Blackhawks will keep trying to fix it.

Check out Jonathan Toews' scary Halloween costume

Check out Jonathan Toews' scary Halloween costume

Jonathan Toews isn't doing himself any favors of trying to drop the Captain Serious nickname that has stuck with him since 2008.

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The Blackhawks captain and his girlfriend dressed up for a Halloween party on Tuesday night, and their costumes were on point:

Mr. and Mrs. Dead Serious. 💀👻☠️#happyhalloween

A photo posted by Jonathan Toews (@jonathantoews) on

We wonder how long it took to wash that paint off their face.