In the first three games of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Flyers' special teams have been, well, special.

Fact is, based solely on special teams, you would think the Flyers, not the Blackhawks, were in control of this fascinating, well-played series. Chicago has the lead, two games to one.

The Flyers, getting good puck movement and creating lots of scoring chances, are 4 for 10 on the power play and 6 for 6 on the penalty kill.

In Wednesday's 4-3 overtime win, the Flyers went 2 for 3 with the extra skater, while Chicago was 0 for 3.

"Our power play," center Mike Richards said, "has created a lot of momentum."

So has the penalty-killing unit, which has been successful in 27 of its last 28 shorthanded situations since the start of the conference finals against Montreal.

"Our goaltender is doing a great job, but the guys in front of him are willing to block shots as well," said Danny Briere, whose team will host Chicago in Game 4 on Friday night. "And at the same time, we're not giving up a lot of chances. Hopefully, that keeps going because it's always a big boost."

In the entire playoffs, Briere and Simon Gagne are tied for the NHL lead with five power-play goals apiece. Scott Hartnell has two power-play goals in the Finals.

"We're taking too many penalties," Chicago defenseman Brent Sopel said. "They're a great team with a big power play. We have to be smarter."

"It can be a difference-maker in a game with them," teammate Jonathan Toews said. "We can be better at it for sure."

Chicago has outscored the Flyers, 10-6, in even-strength situations.

Breakouts coming?

Richards and Jeff Carter have yet to score in the Finals and are a combined minus-9.

In Game 3, Carter had 12 shots (six on goal), and Richards nearly connected on two power-play chances.

"They've gotten some good looks that they want. They just haven't been able to fall for them," coach Peter Laviolette said. "So it's only a matter of time."

Chicago's Toews, the NHL's leading playoff scorer with 27 points, is also goal-less and is minus-1.


Chris Pronger, 35, whose wit and sarcasm have reached new levels during the Finals, always seems to be at center stage - on and off the ice.

On how difficult it was for him to play 32 minutes and 7 seconds in Game 3: "At my advanced age . . . I got down here in a wheelchair" for Thursday's news conference.

On why he doesn't grow a playoff beard: "Too itchy."

On the on-ice yapping: "There was a lot of talking coming from their side of the ice" in Game 3. "We were just too busy to play that game."

Roenick's spin

Jeremy Roenick, who played for both the Flyers and Blackhawks, didn't like it when Pronger scooped up the puck from the Hawks at the end of Game 2 and told reporters he threw it in the garbage.

"That's total, total bush league," Roenick told WMVP-AM (1000), a Chicago radio station. ". . ..He's not a very popular person around the National Hockey League."

Ratings hit

The Flyers-Blackhawks matchup Wednesday on Versus was the highest-rated network showing in both Chicago and Philadelphia - and delivered the best local market ratings ever for a Blackhawks or Flyers game on a cable network.

Philadelphia averaged 801,000 viewers and a 17.4 local households rating between 8:15 and 11:15 p.m.; it peaked at a 20.8 local rating between 10:30 and 10:45 p.m.

The first two games on NBC averaged 5.16 million viewers, the highest for the first two games on a U.S. broadcast since 1997 (5.69 million, Fox). It was a seven percent increase over last year (4.82 million).


All three games have been decided by one goal. You have to go back to 1964 to find the last time two teams started the Finals with three straight one-goal decisions in a series that wasn't a sweep. Toronto won that '64 series in seven games against Detroit. . . . In each of the last two third periods, the Flyers have outshot the Hawks by 15-4. . . . Chicago winger Patrick Kane on Pronger: "He's been in the league a long time; he gets away with whacks here and there that he probably shouldn't, but I guess for being in the league that long, [veterans] deserve that." . . . Before its Game 3 loss, Chicago had won 10 straight games that were tied or within a goal in the third period. . . . A botched line change - and a missed defensive assignment by Dave Bolland - contributed to the odd-man rush that led to Claude Giroux's overtime goal in Game 3. . . . Chicago left winger Andrew Ladd, who has missed the first three Finals games with a shoulder injury, skated Thursday and could return to the lineup Friday.