For those who were disappointed by NHL refs putting the kibosh on Marc-Andre Fleury and Peter Budaj’s attempted goalie scrap the other night, here’s some advice: If you want to see men wearing comically large pads throw punches at each other, go find the nearest AHL franchise.
By Eli Bernstein
It’s been a tough season so far for the Flyers. An 0-3 start led to the (probably overdue) firing of coach Peter Laviolette in October, but the shakeup on the bench hasn’t resulted in a turnaround. Thanks mostly to an anemic offense and hit-or-miss defense, Philadelphia is currently sitting on six points, good for last place in the entire NHL.
The Flyers’ offense wasn’t exactly its usual moribund self, and actually got off 30 shots against Caps netminder Braden Holtby. Not one found the back of the net though, and so after Ward scored 5:23 into the third period to make the score 7-0, the hosts decided to make some fireworks with their fists instead.
The brouhaha began after Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds leveled Caps defenseman Steve Olesky with a check near the Washington blue line. Tom Wilson immediately came to his teammate’s defense, and as the refs watched the two tangle, Flyers goalie Ray Emery rushed down the ice, intent on going mano-a-mano with his counterpart Holbty.
PITTSBURGH — Of course, everyone knew that the Bruins would waltz into Pittsburgh and outscore the home team 9-1 in two commanding victories. No surprise, right?
“Shocked? Not really shocked,” forward Nathan Horton after his team dismantled the Penguins 6-1 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. “Or maybe shocked, I don’t know. We maybe didn’t expect this.”
Nope. Who would have expected the Penguins, laden with firepower but shut out 3-0 in the series opener and vowing to reassert their skill game, to suffer a 6-1 embarrassment on home ice in Game 2? What does this say about them, especially after the way they were derailed last year by the rival Flyers in a chippy, high-scoring series?
During the first two games, the Bruins have forced turnovers, made far fewer mistakes, gotten far better goaltending, rendered Pittsburgh’s superstars pointless, and now look like a decisively better team against the East’s Stanley Cup favorites.
Here are some thoughts and observations from a Game 2 shocker:
By Adrian Dater
Remember when the Chicago Blackhawks were “panicked” about their playoff situation, and how their exit visas from the postseason seemed imminent? Down three games to one against Detroit in the Western Conference semifinals, tee-time jokes about the Presidents’ Trophy winners abounded.
Five straight Blackhawks victories later, the Red Wings have been playing golf for a few days and unless the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings win four of the next five games, they’ll be free to make reservations at the country club, too.
Chicago easily beat the Kings, 4-2, in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals on Sunday at the United Center to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. The action now shifts to the Staples Center for two games.
While the Blackhawks keep getting stronger after facing their big moment of adversity against Detroit, the Kings look like a fatigued, beaten-up squad that’s in sudden disarray.
This series was supposed to be a cakewalk for the Penguins. After demolishing the Islanders 5-0 in Game 1, you could almost hear Morgan Freeman narrating their march to the next round. (No? Just me? OK, then.)
But after that initial pasting, the Islanders decided that they wanted to savor their first playoff appearance since 2007. What resulted were wide-open games that featured overtime heroics, wild momentum swings and delirious, bottle-throwing Long Island crowds as the Isles fought back to tie the series at 2-2. Game 5 in Pittsburgh would be pivotal, and each side had a glaring question mark in net that needed to be addressed. The Penguins got their answer in the form of a 4-0 shutout that put them back in control, 3-2, as they return to New York for a potentially decisive Game 6 on Saturday night. The Islanders, on the other hand, have a tough choice to make.
NEW YORK – After returning to New York down 2-0 in their series against the Washington Capitals, the Rangers regained their footing with a 4-3 win in Game 3. Another victory by the same score followed in Game 4 on Wednesday, and just like that, a series that once looked lopsided is all knotted up at two games apiece.
Here are some more thoughts and observations from the game: