Saturday, May 29, 2010

Flyers lose wild Game 1 to the Blackhawks

(Photo by Andre Ringuette/Getty Images)
I'm pretty sure Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals didn't go how either team planned it, with goals came early and often in this one as both teams played sloppy hockey in the first two periods. After trading one goal leads back and forth all game long, the Blackhawks eventually scored last and then held on to beat the Flyers 6-5 and take a 1-0 lead in the series.

Whether it was the long layoff or the unfamiliarity with their opponents, the Flyers didn't play with the same focused intensity that they had against the Canadiens. Sure, the Flyers made things happen in the offensive end in the first two periods, but they weren't the same team defensively as they made bad turnovers and spent a lot of time watching the Blackhawks rather than playing the puck. The Flyers must play better than that against a Chicago team that will make you pay for all of your mistakes.

On top of losing the game, we now may have another goaltending controversy in Philadelphia. After giving up 5 goals in 20 shots, Michael Leighton was pulled from the game and replaced with the returning Brian Boucher. While Boosh wasn't exactly perfect, he did allow only one goal and made 11 saves, a few of them of the highlight variety. What this means for who starts in net for Game 2 for the Flyers is anyone's guess. Did the Flyers pull Leighton as an attempt to fire up the team or was it simply for how poorly he was playing? And, did Boucher shake enough of the rust off and prove that he is ready to jump back into the starting role?

While it is depressing that the Flyers lost Game 1, there were still a few positives to take from the game. Shockingly, the Flyers didn't have a penalty the entire game, a trend they would be smart to continue considering the Blackhawks can be lethal on the power play. The Flyers also did score 5 times on Antii Niemi, proving they know what it takes to get the puck past him. Had the Flyers actually won the game, we would also be singing the praises of Scott Hartnell, who played some of his best hockey in the season en route to a one goal, two assist night.

After losing Game 1, the goal remains the same for the Flyers: win one of the first two in Chicago. While their effort wasn't particularly inspiring, at least the Flyers didn't get blown out even though they weren't playing their game. It's going to take a much better effort out of the Flyers if they want to knock off the Blackhawks in Game 2 but no one ever said winning the Cup was going to be easy. I trust that Laviolette will make the necessary adjustments and the troops will be ready to roll and make this thing a series.

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