CHICAGO _ A few observations/suggestions before boarding a plane and heading back home, where the Flyers face a deficit of three games to two in the Stanley Cup Finals against Chicago:
1. Michael Leighton should start Wednesday. Leighton has rebounded nicely from poor performances throughout the playoffs. Besides, Brian Boucher doesn't look 100 percent healthy yet.
2. The Flyers need Mike Richards and Jeff Carter to step up. Excluding an empty-net score by Carter, they have combined for one goal and a minus-11 rating in the Finals. Carter won't admit it, but he doesn't seem to be himself and is undoubtedly bothered by his still-healing foot. The Danny Briere line has been spectacular, but it needs some support.
3. Insert Dan Carcillo into the lineup in Game 6. The Flyers didn't play with an edge in their 7-4 loss Sunday night in Game 5. Carcillo's energy was needed. JVR (goal) should stay in the lineup. Arron Asham had a team-high seven hits, so Peter Laviolette may be reluctant to sit him. Darroll Powe is a candidate to sit, but only if Ian Laperriere takes his spot on the penalty kill. Laperriere has only been used sparing on the PK since returning from a head injury.
The best solution: Dress five defensemen and 13 forwards. Oskars Bartulis played just 1:58, so a sixth D-man isn't really needed. Yes, it's risky if a game goes into overtime and the defensemen are dragging. But it's worth the risk to have Carcillo available when a jolt of energy is needed.
4. Chicago goalie Antti Niemi has looked extremely pedestrian. The Flyers need to swarm the net early in Game 6 _ like the Hawks did at the start of Game 5. The Flyers cannot play passively at the start. They need to set the tone, need to play with desperation. Think the last four games against Boston.
5. Yes, Chris Pronger had an awful game (career-worst minus-5) on Sunday, but special teams decided Game 5 _ Chicago was 2 for 4 on the power play, the Flyers were 0 for 3.
6. Give Chicago coach Joel Quenneville credit. His line changes ignited his offense. That said, the Hawks' new No. 1 line _ Jonathan Toews, Tomas Kopecky and Marian Hossa _ was still a minus-6. It was the other lines that stepped up _ and, with the Flyers having the last line change on Wednesday, Laviolette will get more favorable matchups.
7. For what it's worth, the Hawks have lost 10 straight in Philly since 1996, and the Flyers have an NHL-best 9-1 home record during this year's playoffs.
8. Crank up Journey's "Don't Stop Believin' " _ and watch a replay of Game 7 in Boston.
9. Repeat No. 8, as needed.
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