Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Blockhawks a challenge for Flyers' shooters

In Game 2 on Monday, Jeff Carter and Mike Richards had as many shots blocked before they got to the goalie as they had shots on net (seven).

In Game 2 on Monday, Jeff Carter and Mike Richards had as many shots blocked before they got to the goalie as they had shots on net (seven).

Those make up just seven of 29 attempts through the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals that have never seen the light of day - just Blackhawks shin pads and skates.

Those are 29 attempts that Antti Niemi did not worry about keeping out of the net.

"These guys stepped in front of a lot of shots," Danny Briere said. "[On Monday], we had three or four chances in the higher slot and they had two or three guys in line trying to defend that shot."

In the previous two rounds, Boston and Montreal posed shot-blocking problems that the Flyers circumvented by finding new shooting lanes and holding on to pucks longer. Duncan Keith has been the Flyers' biggest nemesis this round, blocking eight shots in two games.

"You try to find shot lanes the best you can," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "In the playoffs, that's what happens. The attempts are there. A lot of them get blocked. I think we need that extra step to make sure we get right in front of [Niemi], cause more havoc and more chaos for him.

"The bottom line is, like I said, our opportunities to score last night were there, drastically there in the third period, and we couldn't find it. We believe there's holes there. We've got to make sure that we can continue to fire, we continue to create, we continue to clog it up and take as many looks and opportunities as we can at the net."

Ice conditions?

Since the Flyers topped the Canadiens in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, the ice crew at the Wachovia Center has been prepping for tonight's game and the warmer weather that comes with playing ice hockey in June.

The Flyers are trying to avoid the embarrassing product on display in Chicago's United Center, where the soft ice created bouncing pucks and turnovers.

"We have been precooling the building since our last game against Montreal," Comcast-Spectacor president Peter Luukko said. "We are performing more frequent temperature and condition checks than we would normally do during a winter month. With these more frequent checks, we're able to react quicker and make quick adjustments.

"In addition, we've adjusted delivery schedules to assure that we keep as much of the hot, humid air outside of the arena. We've also adjusted our procedures during the scheduled on-ice practice sessions to keep as much outside air from getting into the building as possible."

The Flyers have lowered the temperature inside the arena to 55 degrees, a full seven ticks below the normal game-night temperature. The temperature at the United Center on Saturday, which Flyers players complained was too warm, was 59 degrees.

Hard, fast ice is ideal at this time of the year - but with the Stanley Cup finals being played in warmer climates like Anaheim and Carolina recently, it has been a luxury and not a given. If temperature has anything to do with hardness, the Flyers will be in good shape tonight. The Wachovia Center ice was 18 degrees yesterday, a full 6 degrees cooler than Chicago.

Joint frustration

If you think Chicago's top guns - its first line of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien - are frustrated with not being on the score sheet in Games 1 and 2, the Flyers are even worse.

The Flyers shut down all three of those talented scorers for two games and still don't have a win to show for it. Those three players posted a combined 57 points (22 goals and 35 assists) in Chicago's first 16 playoff games but not a single point in the Stanley Cup finals.

"Obviously, it's a key for us to shut them down," Mike Richards said. "But we knew coming into the series that they had a lot of depth and play well as a team and get contributions from everyone."

Slap shots

In this series, the Flyers' power play has managed just 10 shots on seven power-play chances. It is 2-for-7 through the first set of games in Chicago . . . Simon Gagne is minus-4 through two games.