Tag:Conference Semifinal
Posted on: May 2, 2011 7:42 pm
Edited on: May 3, 2011 2:27 am

Flyers' Pronger sits, Bruins lose McQuaid

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger was scratched from the lineup for tonight’s Game 2, although it reportedly has nothing to do with his injured hand. 

The Flyers aren't talking, but CSN Philadelphia's Tim Panaccio cites a person in the know:

Pronger left Game 1 of this series nearing the two-minute remaining mark of the third period and did not return. He appeared to be fine on Sunday, though moving with a slight limp, which is not uncommon for any player this time of year.

Could he have pulled his hamstring while favoring his back? That seems to be one possibility here. The Flyers aren’t talking, but Pronger is expected to return to the series for Game 3 on Wednesday in Boston.
  Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren would not comment other than to say the defenseman has an undisclosed injury.. 

He missed Monday morning's skate, but Pronger was not listed the team's injury update. Pronger has one point and was a minus-3, averaging 13 minutes, 55 seconds over the three playoff games he played.

The Bruins lost a defenseman of their own, Adam McQuaid, to a scary injury late in the first period. McQuiad attempted to deliver a hit to Flyers forward Mike Richards, who ducked the collision. McQuaid collided awkwardly with the boards headfirst and lay on the ice for a couple minutes before he was helped off the ice.  

McQuaid, whose injury was not disclosed, was transported to an area hospital for observation. The Bruins announced that McQuaid would travel back with the team on Tuesday.

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: May 2, 2011 12:48 pm
Edited on: May 2, 2011 7:32 pm

Boucher to get start in Flyers' net for Game 2

The Philadelphia Flyers will stick with Brian Boucher in goal for tonight’s Game 2, two days after he allowed five goals on 23 shots in a series-opening loss to the Boston Bruins

“Brian will go back in net today,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette told CSN Philadelphia. “Today, for me, is a game where we all get to go back in there and try and right some wrongs. So everybody gets an opportunity. He deserves it.”

Boucher emerged as the starter after Laviolette used three goalies -- Sergei Bobrovsky and Michael Leighton being the other two -- in the first round. Bobrovsky, who will serve as the backup tonight, replaced Boucher in the second period of Game 1 and allowed two goals on 10 shots. 

Despite Boucher’s lackluster Game 1, those in his locker room weren’t about to lay the blame for the 7-3 loss at the 34-year-old veteran’s crease, reports CSN Philly’s Sarah Baicker and Tim Panaccio:
“Boosh has bounced back tremendously after bad games,” Scott Hartnell said. “We didn’t give him any help whatsoever in Game 1, a lot of rebounds, two and three guys at the net walking away while our defense and forwards were sleeping somewhere else.”

From the outside, the Flyers’ situation in net certainly appears unorthodox. In the team’s last 14 playoff games (going back to last season), Laviolette has pulled a goalie six times. But for the Flyers, in a way, that’s just business as usual. 

“We haven’t cared all year long,” Danny Briere said. “Both of them [Boucher and Sergei Bobrovsky], they’ve been good for the most part. Like everybody else, they’ve had some tougher games. But we all do. But it never mattered. It’s not going to start at this point.”

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: May 2, 2011 5:00 am
Edited on: May 2, 2011 5:08 am

Death of bin Laden takes precedence in Capital

A good portion of we media types who covered Tampa Bay Lightning-Washington Capitals game Sunday night made our way over the White House, which is less than a dozen blocks away from the Verizon Center. 

Hundreds of Capitals fans -- since they didn’t have to file stories, I guess -- beat us there, as did a few thousand others who came together to cheer the announcement that Osama bin Laden has been killed. Here’s the story I filed on the scene there on Pennsylvania Avenue

Casey Engle, a student at the University of Maryland, tells us why he chose to wear a Caps jersey to the impromptu festivities.  

The news that bin Laden had been killed leaked out minutes after the Capitals 3-2 overtime loss. As Sam Saliba, a sales manger from Herndon, Va., said, the fact Washington dropped the first two games of the best-of-7 series didn't matter much at that point. 

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: May 1, 2011 2:20 am
Edited on: May 1, 2011 4:39 am

Rinne's acrobatics allow Predators to tie series

Henrik Sedin was done in by the Pekka Rinne’s glove hand. Kevin Bieksa had most of the net open before Rinne swung across and used the backside of his blocker to stop the sure goal. Rinne even did snow angel to stop Daniel Sedin’s game-winning bid.

Rinne, the Nashville Predators’ Vezina Trophy-finalist goalie, piled up the spectacular saves in the two overtime periods of Game 2, which allowed Matt Halischuk to score the game-winner as the Preds eked out a 2-1 victory at Rogers Arena on Saturday. Thanks to Rinne, the Pred return home with the series tied, 1-1.

“It’s just one of those things,” Rinne told reporters afterward. “Sometimes, you come up big when needed.”

Rinne finished with 32 saves, the only blemish on the night coming on Alex Burrows’ shorthanded goal early in the second period. And Rinne wasn’t just making stops, but he also controlled most of his rebounds -- even on the saves he had no business making in the first place. 

On a 3-on-2 Canucks break with two minutes left in the first overtime, Daniel Sedin faked a shot then slid the puck between two Predators defenders and over to Bieksa. Sure, Bieksa had most of the net to shoot at and his one-timer was headed to the center of the net, but give Rinne credit for putting himself in any kind of position to make the save. He stopped the shot then fell on top of the puck for the whistle. 

Here’s a look at the sequence: 

“I got a little bit fortunate there with the Bieksa save,” Rinne said. “It was a nice pass to Bieksa and I was able to get my stick any my blocker there.”

Bieksa tipped his hat to Rinne in an interview with the CBC's Tim Wharnsby:

“He was the difference,” said Vancouver defenceman Kevin Bieksa, one of Rinne’s victims in overtime. “He was their best player, no doubt about it.

“We didn’t get enough on net [in regulation] and we didn’t get enough traffic in front of him in overtime. It’s unacceptable to have only what, 14 shots, after three periods.”

Rinne actually saw one more shot than that in regulation, but the Canucks' sputtering offense -- including the Sedin twins who totalled 198 points in the regular season and no points in this series -- combined with a some solid Preds defense resulted in few challenging situations for Rinne through the first three periods. 

That changed once the game surpased regulation, where he made 18 save.

Rinne wasn’t always so solid this postseason. He allowed 16 goals on 98 shots (0.837 save percentage) in the opening four games of the first round against the Anaheim Ducks. Rinne was even pulled in Game 2 of that series. 

That’s why his save percentage just rose above the NHL goaltender equivalent of Mendoza line for the playoof. He's just above a .900  save percentage after a one-goal-allowed, 30-save effort in Game 1 combined with Sunday’s stellar effort.

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: April 30, 2011 7:15 pm
Edited on: April 30, 2011 7:57 pm

Boucher yanked, Flyers' goalie search continues

It took all of one game -- actually, not even two periods -- to restart the Philadelphia Flyers' goalie carousel. 

Flyers goalie Brian Boucher was yanked with less than four minutes left  the second period after he allowed his fifth goal (on 23 shots) in the Boston Bruins’ 7-3 victory in Game 1 of the second-round series at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday. In came rookie Sergei Bobrovsky, who allowed the final two goals over the final 10 shots. 

They combined ot allow the most goals in a postseason game against the Bruins since May 4, 1978. 

“It wasn’t a good afternoon all around for all of us,” Boucher told CSN Philadelphia.  “We didn’t get any breaks and we certainly didn’t play all that well. At the same time, I don’t see the need for a change (in goal), but we’ll see what happens.”

The Flyers began the first round with Bobrovsky in net, but his tenure ended after he allowed three goals on seven shots. Boucher came into the game in relief as the Flyers battled back to win Game 2 against the Buffalo Sabres. Boucher eventually had his owns struggles and Michael Leighton --- who was limited to one regular-season game ---- played part of Game 5 and got the start in Game 6. Boucher finished off the series and entered as the No. 1 goalie for this round. 

One bright spot for the Flyers defense and special teams is that they killed all five of the Bruins’ 5-on-4 opportunities. The Bruins still haven’t scored on the power play and they sunk to 0-for-26 with the extra man. 

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: April 30, 2011 2:31 am
Edited on: April 30, 2011 2:59 am

Preview: No. 2. Flyers vs. No. 3 Bruins

The Boston Bruins had to wait a mere 12 months to attempt to purge one of the game’s most historic collapses from their system. Boston led the Philadelphia Flyers 3-0 --- both in the series and then in Game 7 in the second round --- a season ago. The Bruins squandered both advantages as the Flyers became the third team in NHL history to advance despite losing the first three games of the series. Each team is coming off a seven-game series as Boston dispatched Montreal and the Flyers outlasted Buffalo.

“A lot of people are going to want to bring up the past,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said this week. “If anything, it’s like (playing) Montreal, all the stats were against us and how the Bruins fared against them in the past. Those odds were against us and we overcame. It’s a new situation. It’s a new opportunity  . . .  to get past these guys and hopefully win a series.”

Here’s the breakdown:  
Forwards: Milan Lucic, the Bruins’ top goal scorer in the regular season, got closer to a suspension for boarding Montreal’s Jaroslav Spacek than scoring a goal in the series. He finished the series with two points (both assists). Fortunately for Boston, there were players like Andrew Ference, Chris Kelly and Nathan Horton to pick up the slack. (Even at 43 years old, Mark Recchi has been a frequent contributor as well.) Another plus for the Bruins is that they are healthier overall than this time a year ago. Claude Giroux made a name for himself in last year’s playoff run with the Flyers and he continued the charge, leading Philly in scoring (one goal, eight assists) in the first round. Danny Briere, who had five goals and five assists, in that playoff series against the Bruins a season ago. Briere has six goals and an assist so far in these playoffs. Jeff Carter, the Flyers’ top goal scorer in the regular season, missed the last two games of the first round with a knee injury, but should be available at some point in the series. 

Edge: Flyers

Defense: This series again features two the game’s best (and tallest) defenseman. Boston’s Zdeno Chara, 6-foot-9, and 6-6 Chris Pronger will each see significant ice time as they not only attempt to shut down the opposition's top line but also quarterback the power player. Chara, who missed a game in the first round due to dehydration, saw an average of 28 minutes, 48seconds of ice time in the first round. Pronger missed the first five games of the first round due to a hand injury, which also kept him out of action the final month of the season. He’s still not 100 percent and his injured hand has limited the effectiveness of shots on net, but even a hobbled Pronger can make a difference. The Flyers are also arguably deeper on the blue line with the second defensive pairing of Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen eating up a ton of minutes.

Edge: Flyers

Goalies: Give it to the Bruins; at least they finished the first round with the same goalie they started with. Tim Thomas, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy after he paced the league in save percentage (.938) and goals-against average (2.00), didn’t get much support as the Bruins dropped the first two games of the first round. There was little consideration of replacing Thomas with Tuukka Rask, who got every start in the Bruins net a season ago. Thomas posted a .925 save percentage and a 2.25 goals-against average in the first round. It was quantity -- with a little bit of quality --- in the first round for the Flyers as they started three goalies: rookie Sergei Bobrovsky, Brian Boucher and Michael Leighton. Boucher, however, has emerged as the starter after he posted a 4-1 record (two of those wins coming in relief) along with a 2.10 GAA and .934 save percentage. Boucher also was the No. 1 goalie as the Flyers faced the Bruins a season ago before multiple knee injuries forced him out of the lineup. While Boucher is a fan favorite and one the most personable players in the game, Thomas is the more likely of the two to steal a game with his athleticism.

Edge: Bruins.

Special teams: This could be the facet of the game that could sink the Bruins’ shot at redemption. Boston didn’t score a single goal on their 21 trips to the power play in the first round. It was the first time in more than 50 years a team went scoreless on the power play in a seven-game series. The Bruins, however, didn’t see any 5-on-3 time. Their penalty kill was only slightly better. The Flyers were just about as lost on the man-advantage in the first round before they rebounded to score three goals on the power play over the final two games of the series. They went 3-for-29 (10.3 percent) on the power play in the first round. 

Edge: Flyers.

Prediction: This has all the makings of a brutal, hard-hitting series. The teams have history and a lot of the same strengths. The Bruins have better goaltending. The Flyers have a few more hot forwards plus they have home-ice advantage, something they lacked a year ago. It’s a tough call, but I think Boston will win this one in seven games.  

No. 2 Philadelphia vs. No. 3 Boston - Series tied, 0-0
Date Site Time/Result
April 30 at PHI 3 p.m.  
May 2 at PHI 7:30 p.m.  
May 4 at BOS 7 p.m.  
May 6 at BOS 8 p.m.  
* May 8 at PHI 3 p.m.  
* May 10 at BOS TBA  
* May 12 at PHI TBA  

  -- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: April 30, 2011 1:51 am
Edited on: April 30, 2011 3:04 am

Joe Pavelski singles in equalizer for Sharks

Joe Pavelski lists the Milwaukee Brewers as his favorite baseball team, although they were hardly contenders as he grew up in Plover, Wis. 

The San Jose Sharks forward may have picked up a few pointers anyway. He batted the puck out of midair off a rebound to send the game to overtime, where the Sharks won, 2-1, to take Game 1 of the second-round series against the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night. 

Pavelski, who leads the Sharks with five goals this postseason, had his prints all over the equalizer, which came midway through the third period. He drew the penalty -- a boarding minor called on Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi -- that put the Sharks on that power play. Pavelksi’s head bounded off the boards on the collision, but he took his normal spot on the power play as he directed the puck into the net after a blast by Joe Thornton wasn’t controlled by Wings goalie Jimmy Howard

Pavelski became a marked man in the second period for the snow shower he gave Howard, who froze the puck a moment earlier. Howard took exception and shoved Pavelksi in the head a couple times. Each were called for roughing. 

David Pollak of The Mercury News chatted with Pavelski about his action-filled night at the Shark Tank: 
The part about batting the rebound into the net was improvised, but Pavelski resisted the usual notion that childhood baseball training came in handy.

“Maybe ping-pong,” he said.

As far as his run-in with Howard, here’s what Pavelski had to say:

“I don’t know if he had a chip on his shoulder, but he’s played well. We knew we had to go and get traffic there.

“I didn’t really think anyone was probably going off. They said I clipped him in the head there. Whatever happens, we were just going to the net and there’s going to be times like that.

Howard had a similar view of the encounter.

“That’s just the playoffs and emotions,” he said. “I’ll leave it at that.”

-- A.J. Perez
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com