Saturday, 30 April 2011

Saturday Recap - 4/30

Boston at Philadelphia
First Period
1:52: David Krejci scores the first goal of the series early in the game. Last year it was his injury, coupled with Simon Gagne's return, that swung the series in the Flyers' favor. Brian Boucher bit too early and Krejci was easily able to go around him for the goal. Milan Lucic, while he didn't get an assist on the goal, started it with strong play down low which is a good sign for Boston as he was largely invisible during the first round against Montreal. The crowd which was raucous just moments ago is really quiet at the moment.

11:02: Danny Briere answers back, putting home a rebound for his seventh of the playoffs, going around Tim Thomas for a goal similar to the Krejci one. Ville Leino made a nice play entering the zone, leaving the puck at the blueline for Braydon Coburn to pick it up and get a shot on net.

12:20: Leino proves he doesn't let anyone get in the way of a loose puck as he knocks down the referee on his way to the corner.

12:55: Thomas makes a great save on James van Reimsdyk on a pass from Claude Giroux and the Flyers have been putting on a lot of pressure since the Briere goal. Those two are starting to become one of the top duos in the league as they gain more and more experience.

16:06: The Flyers kill off a goalie interference penalty on Zac Rinaldo who is playing in his first career NHL game. It was a curious call as both Rinaldo and Dennis Seidenberg both ran into Thomas on a rush it it looked as if Rinaldo was trying to stop, but couldn't because Seidenberg was draped all over him.

19:24: Nathan Horton continues his strong play during his first career playoff run with his fourth goal in the dying seconds of the first period. Seidenberg made another great pinch as he did on the first goal. Horton was given plenty of room to get two whacks at the puck before scoring and the Flyers defense aren't working the front of their net with their usual bravado.

End of period: Both teams spent the period feeling each other out. Neither team was rushing or trying to force plays that weren't there and there weren't any big hits. Both goalies were alright, all three goals were on rebounds and scrambles in front of the net.

Second Period
 2:34: Mark Recchi gets enough on a shot to put the puck just over the goal line. The Flyers do not look good in their own zone as nobody was able to pick up Recchi or clear any rebounds. Right now they are on pace for their fourth goalie change of the playoffs.

5:11: Kris Versteeg takes an unnecessary slashing call as the Bruins are starting to dominate Game 1. The Flyers have no sense of urgency whatsoever and the Bs are taking advantage.

7:42: The Flyers kill off the penalty as the Bruins power play continues to be their weak spot. But they are right back on it as Briere takes another bad penalty, this time for tripping Seidenberg in the Flyers zone. The Flyers don't appear to be focused and it is hurting them right now.

9:58: Briere gets a great chance coming out of the box, but shoots just wide. The Flyers penalty kill is doing a great job as the Bruins are having trouble entering the zone and cannot get set up. They will now get their chance on the power play that went 5-for-35 against Buffalo as Brad Marchand takes a slashing call.

12:37: The penalty is killed off as Thomas was strong, making four tough stops. The Flyers get another power plays Johnny Boychuk high sticks Nikolay Zherdev.

15:26: Boucher doesn't even react as a shot by Adam McQuad that is going well wide is deflected by Horton back towards the net and in. Right now the build is as quiet as it can get as nothing is going right for the Flyers.

17:14: Brad Marchand seals the deal in the second period. He scores on a rebound and he was left open in front as the Bruins have been all game. The Flyers are flat and Sergei Bobrovsky comes in to see his first action since Game 2 of the Buffalo series.

17:30: van Reimsdyk scores right off the faceoff on a wrist shot over Thomas' glove. It was a clean win by Giroux and a nice little pass by Sean O'Donnell to put the puck right in the wheelhouse for the quick snipe.

End of period: The Flyers looked absolutely horrendous this period. Their forwards were ineffective and their defense looked lost. The Bruins have buried all of their chances and aren't giving the Flyers anything right now. The Flyers have taken a lot of stupid penalties and have been careless in their own zone. They have been making everything easy for the Bruins.

Third Period
3:50: Bobrovsky makes a good glove save on a Seidenberg shot from in close as he gets into the game. Best thing for the Flyers to see is he made it look easy and was able to hold on to it.

8:30: Giroux show some amazing stickhandling as he turn Chris Kelly inside out and sends van Reimsdyk in alone then almost scores himself before being hauled down by Andrew Ference who takes a hooking penalty.

10: 57: The Bruins kill off that penalty easily as neither team has threatened at all. the Flyers PP unit goes back to work as Krejci takes a slashing call.

12:01: The Flyers will have plenty of room as Marchand takes a penalty to give them a 5-on-3.

13:02: Mike Richards gets his first of the playoff just after the first penalty expires. He walks out of the corner then rips a short-side shot by Thomas. The Flyers are playing much better this period, showing the Bruins Game 2 will not be nearly as easy as this one. It is his first goal since April 5, a span of 10 games.

14:59: Marchand scores a goal as the puck is cleared from the crease before Patrice Bergeron knocks the puck off a defenseman's stick right to Marchand for the tap in.

Greg Campbell scores to make it 7-3. Coburn does nothing to tie up Campbell's stick as he glided in unimpeded.

Final score: Boston-7 Philadelphia-3

Story of the game: The Flyers did not play smart at all today. Almost all seven of the Bruins goals were on player where the goalscorer was able to get behind the defense without anyone noticing. Even when there were four Flyers in deep, they didn't seem to communicate with one another and spent a lot of time running aorund instead of playing the sound positional game they need to in front of the goaltending backing this team. They were also undisciplined, taking five slashing calls away from the play. Even though the Bruins power play has been dreadful throughout the playoffs, this didn't allow the Flyers to get any consistent attack.

Player of the game: Dennis Seidenberg made two risky pinches early in the game and they both led to Boston goals as they got the advantage early. He quietly played very well in his own end, leading all players with a plus-4. David Krejci did a lot of the scoring with two goals and four points, but a lot of that was getting lucky bounces while Seidenberg was consistently making his own plays and getting the puck away from danger.

Nashville at Vancouver
First Period
7:19: Martin Erat records the Predators fifth shot on goal which is as many as they had the entire first period of Game 1. The Preds are doing a much better job forechecking and taking the puck to the net, showing the urgency that was lacking the first game when they seemed to forget you can't win if you don't score at least one goal.

10:30: Nashville gets Roberto Luongo scrambling as they send a flurry of shots on net and were getting to the rebounds. They had two shots on net, one blocked and a few just wide for their best scoring chances of the series so far.

15:07: Vancouver kills of an interference penalty on Mikael Samuelsson. After getting a number of quality chances early in the game, Nashville has a hard time just entering the zone. When they did get a clean entry, Vancouver was winning all the battles and clearing the puck every time.

19:36: Patric Hornqvist takes a hard hit from Alex Edler, but doesn't let it faze him as he gets right back up and get a shot on net.

End of period: Once again, there were no goals at the end of one period. Nashville has looked way better and has as many quality chances in period one as they did in Game 1. They outshot Vancouver 12-6, more shots than they had the first two periods of Game 1 when they were out shot 16-5 in the first and 30-20 in the game.

Second Period
2:00: Alex Burrows opens the scoring shorthanded. He went on with Ryan Kesler, tried to center a pass only to have it go off a skate and take a fortunate bounce right back to him. Pekka Rinne was sliding across to take the shot from Kesler only to leave the side of the net wide open.

2:35: Martin Erat takes a Shea Weber shot off the side of the head after it deflects off a stick while he was jumping out of the way. To give you an idea of how much that sucks, watch this.

2:56: Vancouver gets another chance shorthanded, this time on a 3-on-1, but the puck slid off Keith Ballard's stick and the chance was nullified. Vancouver gets a third chance as the penalty expires, but Kesler shoots it high as the penalty benefits Vancouver more than Nashville.

7:33: Jordin Tootoo takes a bad tripping penalty and Ballard is lucky he wasn't seriously hurt on the play. Going back for the icing call, Tootoo taps the back of ballard's knee just enough to send him crashing into the base of the boards. Nashville likks off the penalty however to keep the deficit at one.

19:18: Rinne makes a fantastic save on Kesler on a wraparound, getting to the glove side of the net in an instant as Kesler made a quick turn and got off a pretty good shot.

End of period: A much closer period saw Nashville out shoot Vancouver for the third consecutive period, but they have yet to score. Vancouver had plenty of chances to extend their lead with Kesler leading the charge most times, but a lot of their shots were blocked or sent wide.

Third Period
5:41: Luongo makes a great glove save on Blake Geoffrion. The line of Tootoo, Nick Spaling and Jerred Smithson has been the best of the game so far and they had a great shift right before and their strong forechecking is leading to some quality chances.

10:46: The Preds go in offside after the best shift of the game. They has possession of the puck inside the Vancouver zone for about a minute and had all their players running around. The Sedins looked awful and they haven't done much all game. Meanwhile the line of Mike Fisher, Sergei Kostitsyn and Patric Hornqvist were making plays at will.

11:15: Tootoo gets a breakaway and Luongo answers with a great leg save. A very similar play to the Fisher breakaway in Game 1.

18:53: Ryan Suter finally scores for Nashville on a goal Luongo would love to have back. With Rinne pulled, Suter went into the corner and in desperation, threw the puck to the front of the net where it when off Luongo's stick, caromed off his left skate and into the net.

End of period:Nashville outplayed Vancouver all period and it finally broke through for them. The shots were 15-5 in the period, 36-15 in regulation and the way Rinne and Luongo are playing, the fans in Vancouver better get comfortable. The edge going into overtime definitely goes to Nashville who have been by far the better team and they will certainly get a jump from the tying goal.

Overtime 1
0:18: Kevin Bieksa takes a hit from Kostitsyn and goes down awkwardly, jamming his hand into the boards. This could be bad because not only is he a quality shut-down defenseman, but if they have to play only five D-men they will get tired much quicker and mental fatigue leads to a lot of overtime goals.

4:18: Rinne makes an amazing save on Daniel Sedin on his best opportunity of the game. A takeaway at the blueline by Henrik led to the glorious chance at the doorstep on a rebound.

6:57: Nashville gets the power play when Vancouver has too many men on the ice. In overtime penalties are rarely called as refs generally let the players decide things, but this is one they have to call.

17:45: Rinne makes one of the best save you will ever see, this rivals the Thomas save in overtime of Game 6. Daniel Sedin fakes a slapshot then sends the puck over to Bieksa for the one-timer. He had the whoile cage to shoot at, but Rinne manages to get his stick on that. Even ESPN has to give him credit for that one on tomorrow's top 10. But it's hockey so they probably won't.

End of period: Both goalies came up big a few times as we have now played 80 minutes without a winner. Vancouver had the better chances, out shooting Nashville for the first time in five periods. They could have had even more chances, but they had a lot of offside calls against them as they seem too eager to try and get those 2-on-1 and 3-on-2 rushes. The Sedins have played their best hockey of the series in that period. The Nucks will need them to be better if they hope to solve Rinne more than once a game.

Overtime 2
5:45: Rinne channels his inner Dominic Hasek, rolling on his back and getting a glove on a shot by Daniel who went around the crease and had a wide open net.

6:20: Vancouver takes another penalty the referees have to call. It is a delay of game for flipping the puck over the glass. This is one rule I really wish they would get rid of. It should really be treated as an icing call as both plays are made for the purpose of resting tired players on the ice. Why one gets the player two minutes is beyond me.

14:51: When it was looking like both goalies were in a zone and this game may not come to a conclusion anytime soon, Matt Halischuk ends the game, firing a wrist shot into the top corner. Luongo doesn't make a good play on the goal at all as he was on his knees before the puck was even shot, leaving Halischuk plenty of room over the glove to put it where mom hides the cookies.

Final score: Nashville-2 Vancouver-1

Story of the game: For the second straight game, it's the goalies. They combined for a .962 save percentage this game and are .969 in the series (.970 for Luongo, .968 for Rinne). While each team played well on the defensive side of the puck, they each had their chances to put the game away, especially Nashville who had two power plays in the extra frames.  As strong as Luongo was, he made two mistakes that cost the Canucks a 2-0 series lead by letting a shot go in from behind the goal line and biting way too early on the overtime goal. The Predators now have home ice advantage as they need three more wins and they have three games at home. The Sedins showed up for the series in overtime, but they will have to be much better at creating chances and finishing as scoring is going to come at a premium. Like Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos and every other sniper, they have to learn to crash the net and score on scrambles in front. They can score those pretty goals in the regular season, but it doesn't work often in the playoffs.

Player of the game: It was Ryan Kesler through regulation who despite not scoring a goal, got an assist on the Burrows goal and created chances throughout the game. He was solid defensively, giving the Predators little room to work with in the Vancouver zone. He deserves a mention, but Rinne stole the show in overtime as the Canucks had four or five opportunities where they could have easily ended the game. He faced nearly as many shots in overtime (11) as he did in regulation (15) and they were much better quality, especially once the Sedins got going.

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