Game 3: Flyers 4, Blackhawks 3 (OT)

It’s starting to become the series many thought it would be. Facing the possibility of going down 3-0 in the series, the Flyers held serve Wednesday night and won their first home game of the Finals 4-3 in overtime.

After regulation goals from Duncan Keith (on a cross-ice one-timer from the top of the circles), Brent Sopel (courtesy of a one-timer right off a face-off in the Philadelphia zone) and Patrick Kane (on a wrist shot while in alone), the Hawks turned the tide in overtime, dominating the fourth frame’s first minutes. However, a neutral zone face-off found both third lines on the ice. Not wanting to waste his checking line’s energy, Joel Quenneville called for a line change – just not like the one that ultimately unfolded.

Even though the Flyers won the face-off clean, Tomas Kopecky and Kris Versteeg immediately headed to the bench – Kopecky from across the ice. Dave Bolland felt the oncoming pressure and stayed. What ensued was an old-fashioned 5-on-3 down the ice. Each of the three Hawks back – Bolland, Keith and Brent Seabrook – got caught watching the puck, which went back to the point man once the Flyers gained the zone. As Matt Carle wound up for a quick snapper to the net, Claude Giroux and Aaron Asham slipped past Keith and Seabrook, and Carle’s shot found Giroux’s stick on its way past Antti Niemi.

As promised, it’s a series.

Come On Up

– Fingers will be pointed in the wake of the first Hawks’ loss in seven games. Was it Quenneville’s fault for calling the change heard ‘round the world? Was it Kopecky’s fault for exiting stage right while the Flyers were kicking the puck up ice? Either way, it’s a good example of why home field/ice matters in hockey maybe more than other sports. Had Coach Q held the right to change last, of course, he would not have had the need to change out of the match-up so quickly.

Ultimately, though, the forwards cannot change while the other team has control in the neutral zone. It’s just that simple. Maybe Q needs to get more comfortable with another line or two playing against the Richards line.

– The Hawks have made a living of one-upping opponents during the past month. Each time Vancouver, San Jose or Philadelphia took a step forward against the Hawks during that time span, the Hawks took a larger one in the moments that followed. Not Wednesday. In fact, it was Philly that played the one-upper role, as the Flyers responded to the Hawks taking their only lead of the night by promptly tying the game 20 seconds later in the third.

– Say what you want about Chris Pronger, but he’s been an absolute force this series, and in particular, last night. None of the Hawk goals came while Pronger was on the ice, but #20 was front-row-center for three of the four Flyer tallies, including one on the power play. On the flip-side, the Hawks picked on the Coburn pairing; Coburn was a -3.

– If you had a nickel for each time the Hawks fed the Flyers’ pointmen last night, you’re well on your way to a $5 footlong today. Not only was the defensive zone coverage hit or miss last night, the Hawks were routinely unable to hoist pucks out of the zone or make a worthwhile breakout pass once they recovered. The result was plenty of second, third and fourth chances.

– Has Chris Pronger ever allowed someone to skate near him behind the play without slashing the player? Not that I’ve seen. Perhaps it’s something Q should casually mention this afternoon.

– Taking a bird’s eye view, Wednesday’s game was settled on the power play. The Hawks went 0-for-3 on the man advantage, and the Flyers scored twice on their three power plays.

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23 Responses to Game 3: Flyers 4, Blackhawks 3 (OT)

  1. CT says:

    Tough game to lose, but you’re right about the power play. After two excellent series with the man advantage, it’s looking like clown shoes again. And you’re right about Pronger, which is why I thought the biggest PP misfire was when the Hawks failed to score while he was in the box.

    It’s probably the longest Pronger has been off the ice in the series.

  2. Lou says:

    You called it on the line change issues. This is hockey IQ and now it is the second time it has happened to us in Philadelphia. Lesson to be learned?

    Friday night, to state the blatantly obvious, is the single biggest Hawks Game in arguably History. It is also going to be the watermark game for Q’s coaching career. It can be the defining moment for the re-born franchise…

    Q needs to have a video guy send clips to the league of Pronger’s crap. 5 consecutive crosschecks to the small of the back should be kno different than a stick break slash at center ice.

    Shoot the puck on net, crisper passing, and clear the puck from our zone.

    This is still our time.

  3. Otter says:

    This Pronger stuff is just down right frustrating. He’s a skating penalty machine, yet he never seems to get called for anything. I’m convinced he could murder Buff and they’d call Buff for two minutes for interference. The crap he gets away with is so annoying, the Anti-Christ can cross check at will but Buff takes one swing and he’s off to the box? Someone in the NHL do something about this because the refs have left a lot to be desired so far this series (not that the Hawks haven’t committed penalties or gotten away with a few (see Campbell just before Kane’s break away goal)).

    HOWEVER, the Hawks seem to be the better team 5-on-5 unless it’s the third period. Big ‘unless’, true, but it’s becoming more and more obvious that the Hawks are the better team 5-on-5 with each passing game. IF the Hawks can get the power play going and go back to killing penalties like they normally do, the Flyers don’t have much of a chance. The Flyers have six 5-on-5 goals to the Hawks 11…

    I’d also like the Hawks to stop turning the puck over so easily in their own zone.

  4. JM says:

    Brent Sopel’s ice time – discuss.

  5. Lee says:

    Hawks opponents always play with a extra man when McCreay is the Ref. Will he be back for more games? Why does Q insist on using Hendry when he is constantly making critical mistakes. Boynton at least would be a stay put defenceman and less probable to make the mistakes that results in scores. What has happened to out PK and Power play? Last night was real frustrating to me how everyone plays by the same rules except Pronger. I’m beginning to think that the only way to even up with Pronger is to have either Buff or Eager force him to drop his gloves.

  6. Otter says:

    BTW, leave it to an ex-Red Wing to haunt the Blackhawks. Ville Leino has been awesome this entire series, imo, and other than Keith has probably been the best player thus far on either team.

    Anyone else sort of get the feeling that this series is sort of like the Canuck series with the annoying fans of the opposing team and the Hawks being the better team 5-on-5? Like the Vancouver series, the other teams top line has played poorly and as long as the Hawks stay out of the box, they should be fine. Unlike the Vancouver series, I’m 99% sure Leighton can’t win two games by himself.

    As for Sopel’s ice time… Campbell has left a lot to be desired through three games and Hendry isn’t very good. On the flip side, how are the Flyers going to handle only have two defensive pairings? The ice time for their top four yesterday was pretty insane.

  7. John says:

    The line change heard round the world is most definitely on the players. While Quenneville has specific orders on which lines are to be matched up against whom, it’s on the players to change at their own discretion. Versteeg and Kopecky aren’t exactly two players with the highest IQ.

    That’s why Ladd will be taking Kopecky’s spot on that line in Game 4. Also, Bolland was owned again last night. I think it’s time for Q to roll out his best against their best and not worry so much about his checking line.

  8. Lee says:

    John:

    The question is can Ladd still play physical with a probable shoulder separation?

  9. John says:

    Shoulder seperation? Is that your diagnosis, doc? I had him pegged for a broken wrist/arm. His physical play notwithstanding, at least he doesn’t panic with the puck in the defensive zone and he’s not hockey retarded, as is the case with Kopecky and Versteeg.

  10. Lee says:

    Not my opinion rumored by JJ in Hockey Buzz blog

  11. Big Tony says:

    The little things caught up with the Hawks last night….selfish penalties they couldnt kill, poor power play and couple breaks we didn’t bury. It’s one game and it sets up a home ice celebration. Philly is good, but we are better.

    Pronger is making a joke of the game. The refs look afraid to call anything on him. He can cry with the rest of them after we win.

  12. Jeff says:

    Has Burish done anything in this series besides draw a couple penalties and snag a couple of his own?

  13. CT says:

    Well, Burish somehow managed to get only a minor penalty when he should have gotten a major, so there’s that.

    I know it’s not going to change now, but it’s complete idiocy to have Sharp playing the point on the power play. He belongs on the 2nd unit with Hossa and Brouwer. Sharp’s a good sniper from the circles in, but last night he must have let go 4 or 5 slap shots from the point that didn’t end up in the zip code as the net.

  14. JM says:

    I think we’ve all called uncle regarding Sharp/Bolland/whoever on the point.

    Doesn’t work, hasn’t worked, yet we still do it.

    I don’t know why we can’t just roll Toews/Kane/Brouwer with Seabs/Keith as the first line, and Hossa/Sharp/Versteeg with Campbell and Hammer on the second.

    This series aside, our puck possession works with these lines (or close variations) at even strength. Why can’t we try it on the power play.

    And regarding Campbell, while he may have played poorly game 2, we’re far more likely to defeat the Philly forecheck with Campbell out there than Sopel. I admire the hell out of Sopel for his grit, but its like being down a man when trying to break out. He’s either late to the puck, or has someone draped over him when he gets there, forcing a turnover.

  15. Billy says:

    I am very surprised to see how Flyers biased this series has become from a NBC, Versus, all media standpoints. Have the Hawks become monsters or demons in the past week? It seems to me that the entire hockey world is against this team…thoughts?

    To comment along with some others, I dont understand how Pronger is getting away with what he has in the first three games. To me, McCreery has had it out for the Hawks. I think he is a linesman for game four…at least he isnt head ref.

  16. John says:

    Whenever I’m emotionally invested in a team and I hear the slightest word spoken about them, I’m immediately on the defensive. I would imagine most of you are the same way. If we all just take a step back and try and see their point of view, we’d notice most of them are just doing their jobs, not playing favorites. This has been a common complaint for as long as I could remember. My dad always used to say the media hated the Bears in the 80’s. I always felt the media would gang up on the Bulls in the 90’s.

    With all this evidence, I would probably say it’s us, not them.

  17. Lou says:

    John, your point has creedence.

    But I think the announcers have been somewhat Flyercentric. Edzo and McMidget have been particularly assinine. Edzo is trying to not be a homer that he has actually been kind of embarassing.

  18. Big Tony says:

    It’s simple regarding the apparent Philly bias…everyone loves the underdog, especially the media. Damn near every sports-themed movie deals with this theme. Its par for the course that real-life imitates fantasy in these cases. We won’t get our due until we hoist the Cup.

  19. John says:

    If we go back and listen to what was said without all the emotion tied into it, their comments are probably pretty harmless and not as pointed at first blow. People just hate McGuire, no matter what he says (and rightfully so). Red Wing fans think he hates their team for crying out loud.

  20. Patrick says:

    The Hawks just played like shit yesterday and it caught them, even though the almost won. They need to play their responsibilities and start forechecking again. I have a feeling that they’ll focus again in game 4 and their mojo will be back.

    The good news is that the BTK line seems to be back (minus the B of course, and it’s a different B than before). Now, the Hawks just need to get all four lines rolling tomorrow and all will be right again with the world.

  21. Dave Morris says:

    CT is right. After all, he was standing between the benches with Pierre McGuire.

    @Patrick> Flyers have the best forecheck of any opponent Hawks have played so far, wouldn’t you say?

    PS now Hawks fans get to use those playoff tix they bought for Sunday.

  22. Patrick says:

    Dave – I agree with you 100%. Hard to believe that none of the other playoff teams forechecked the Hawks with any tenacity this year – in fact, didn’t we all here at the FF pretty much clue into the fact that that was the way to beat the Hawks? Maybe we gave the Flyers too many clues.

    With that, I think that the Hawks will rebound and play well in Game 4. Looking forward to it tomorrow night. Toews has two more games to beat Savy’s playoff record…

  23. uncle jesse says:

    I don’t think it’s just us. I was about to throw my remote thru the TV (before OT) because the Versus announcers wouldn’t stop blowing Philly…

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