Finally, the Flyers put up a solid effort. It wasn’t enough, as they lost 2-1 and head home in a big hole. Neither teams was happy after they way they played Game 1, and it showed in Game 2.
Carcillo was in the lineup after being scratched from the last 3 games, and JVR was out. Little Ryan Parent also sat, as Oskars Bartulis came in to fill the spot. And for a couple of teams that rarely play each other, there was a good amount of animosity from the beginning. Off the opening draw, Bolland saw fit to cross check Richards in the back as soon as he turned around. Both defenses played tighter, limiting each other, and keeping things close. Nobody scored in the first, although Chicago had a nice shot advantage. They carried the play a bit, and finally drew some penalties. The Flyers too had a powerplay, but looked horrible as they failed to set up and get any shots.
Just as the Flyers have done through most of their run, Chicago took control of the game in the second period. While Philadelphia put on a bit more pressure, it was Chicago that lit the lamp. Hossa jumped on a rebound that Kraijcek should have cleared away. He swung and missed, and Hossa pounced on it and rammed it home. 28 seconds later, Leighton gave up one of the weakest goals ever. Ben Eager came down the left wing, fired a shot from near the top of the circle, and as Leighton went down, the puck went up, and he simply fanned at it as it went into the top corner.
Luckily, these Flyers have too much character to let that phase them. From they very next shift, until the final second ticked off the clock, they played their hearts out. Shift after shift, they spent more and more time in Chicago’szone. Unfortunately, the 2-0 lead carried into the third period, where Gagne finally broke through. A nifty flip pass by Richards found Gagne with space in the slot. He fired a shot, but because the puck was rolling on him, it simply bounced its way towards the net. Luckily, it skipped high and past a floundering Niemi, with one second left on the powerplay. That’s all that the Flyers would get, although not for a lack of effort. They outskated, outhit, pretty much out-everythinged the ‘Hawks, but couldn’t score again. The stat sheet will show that Niemi was wonderful, and saved the game, and is the hero. I’d have to disagree on that. As many great chances as the Flyers had, all of their shots were low. Niemi is on his knees almost at all times. He wants you to shoot low, and the Flyers played right into it.
So even though the result is a loss, and the hole is deeper, I’m not nearly as depressed as I was after Game 1. They proved that they can skate with the ‘Hawks, get physical with them, and pressure them. The loss was unfortunate, but the team has no reason to be down yet. They have completely shut down Kane-Toews-Byfuglian, and it’s no fluke. The Flyers have the players that can skate with these guys consistently. The flip side is that we’ve shut down their best players completely, and have two losses to show for it.
The Hartnell-Briere-Leino lined again looked go. Despite not scoring, they had the best opportunities. Finally the top line got it going a bit too. Giroux has been pretty invisible, in both games. He hasn’t made anyone look stupid, but has shown a few flashes of brilliance. Maybe the change of scenery to the friendly, orange confines of the Wachovia Center will get him going.
The commentators pointed out a few times that when Carcillo was on the ice, Quenneville tried to hide Keith and Seabrookfrom him. Considering that he spent the first period on the to line, that’s just a bit funny to me. He’s a fighter, but his hitting ability is a bit over exaggerated. What are you afraid of, Q-Stache?
So now we head back to Philadelphia, hoping to find some magic again. We know it will be loud, the atmosphere electric, and the team ready to play. But Chicago has already gone through that in San Jose. It doesn’t phase them. I’m not asking any more from the Flyers than to play exactly as they played Game 2. Keep up the pressure, and the goals will come. Remember, Niemi still sucks!
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