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Flyers Notes: Laviolette: Flyers must pressure Niemi

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette conceded that he and his players were "irritated" to have out-chanced Chicago yet to be trailing, two games to none, in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Finals.

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette conceded that he and his players were "irritated" to have out-chanced Chicago yet to be trailing, two games to none, in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Finals.

Game 3 is Wednesday night at the Wachovia Center.

"When you do it and it's a margin of 2-1," he said of the scoring chances, "you expect better results than 0-2. The place we didn't win was on the scoreboard.  That's the most important thing this time of year. So I think frustrated, yeah.  Irritated, definitely. And anxious" for Wednesday's game.

"Can't wait," he said.

Laviolette said the Flyers need to do a better job crashing the net and getting traffic in front of Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi.

"We've got to put more pressure on their goaltender," Laviolette said during a news conference at the Wachovia Center on Tuesday. "He's a rookie goaltender playing in the Stanley Cup Finals.  We have to get on the board here and put a little bit of doubt there."

Laviolette seemed to be trying to turn up the heat on Niemi.

"It's a tough position, goaltending. He's representing a city that hasn't won a Cup in 50 years [actually, 49]," Laviolette said. "We have to give him a crack of doubt. We can do that" Wednesday.

Niemi had too many good looks at shots, Laviolette said.

"We need that extra step to make sure we get right in front of him, cause more havoc and more chaos for him," he said. "We believe there's holes there.  We found them in the first game, and we didn't get them to the back of the net in the second game. So we've got to make sure we 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.

"Sometimes that means trying to change that lane or that angle to get around those blocked shots."

On Monday, Chicago blocked 18 shots; six of the blocks were by Duncan Keith.


Laviolette was second-guessed for having Lukas Krajicek and Oskars Bartulis - the team's third defensive duo - on the ice so much in Game 2. They combined to play almost 22 minutes and were out there when Marian Hossa scored the game's first goal.

"We can't keep playing Chris Pronger 33 minutes every night. We're going to wear him out," Laviolette said. "We've got to utilize our other defensemen and try and find the spots where we can put them in. . . . We have confidence in our players to get the job done."

Laviolette said the "coverage was there. We tried to sweep the puck away. Our goaltender pushed it. Our defenseman [Krajicek] tried to clear it. It didn't happen. And it ended up a good goal scorer put it in the net. They made that [personnel] change after we already had our players on the ice."

Leighton the leader

The Flyers' Michael Leighton leads NHL goalies in goals-against average (1.97), save percentage (.930) and shutouts (3) in the playoffs. Teammate Brian Boucher is second among league goalies with a 2.34 GAA.

Chicago's Niemi tops NHL playoff goalies in wins (14), is second in shutouts (2), and third in both GAA (2.40) and save percentage (.919).

Niemi, a Finland native, on Chicago fans chanting his name during and after Game 2: "Well, it's an unbelievable feeling how the people react to our game."

Ratings hit

The television broadcast of the Blackhawks' 2-1 win over the visiting Flyers on Monday registered the best overnight rating for a Game 2 on record, according to NBC.

The rating was higher than any other Game 2 since 1975. NHL overnight data prior to 1975 doesn't exist, the network said.

The Flyers-Hawks Game 2 posted a 21 percent increase over last year's second game between Pittsburgh and Detroit.

Monday's game peaked at 4.7/8 in the final half hour. Chicago led all markets with a 25.1 rating and 39 share. Philadelphia followed with an 18.5 rating and 28 share.

The two-game overnight rating is a 3.5, the best for the first two Finals contests in 11 years.


Despite being scoreless in the Finals, the Hawks' Jonathan Toews leads NHL playoff scorers with 26 points - four more than Danny Briere and Mike Richards. . . . A playoff block party will begin at 4 p.m. Wednesday and Friday outside of the AT&T Pavilion on the 11th Street side of the Wachovia Center. Doors to the Wachovia Center will open at 6 p.m. The games Wednesday and Friday start at 8 p.m.