Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Flyers beat Habs - get to Finals

What a shame

Ex-Ranger Scott Gomez didn't want the party to end. An 8th seed in the playoffs - he and his Montreal Canadiens were magnificent in rounds one and two. They dispatched the best point-total team in hockey - the Washington Capitals. And - as an encore - they vanquished Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins - something I will always be grateful for.

But then they ran into the 7th seed Flyers in round three. They Flyers had beaten the Devils in round one (which we also appreciate). In round two they fell behind 3-0 to the Boston Bruins before storming back to beat them 4-3, overcoming a 3 goal deficit in game seven to close the deal.

And so the 7th and 8th seeds collided on the path to the Stanley cup finals - and suddenly the Canadiens couldn't score. They only managed 7 goals on 140 shots in a 5 game series. They were shut out three times. That's just not good enough.

In game 5 with the Canadiens needing a win to stay alive - they took a 1-0 lead on Brian Gionta's goal (and Gomez's assist) in the game's first minute.

But then - disaster struck. In the games 5th minute witht he Canadiens on the powerplay - the Candien's goalie Jaro Halak left his net and collided with the Flyers' Richards - leaving the puck still loose on the ice. It slid to Richards who scored on the empty net - erasing the Canadiens only lead of the night with a shorthanded goal.

In the 2nd the Flyers scored twice and appeared to take control of the game.

But in the third it was Scotty Gomez who scored 7 minutes into the final period to make it a one goal game. But the Habs could get no closer.

And the Philadelphia Flyers - who qualified in a shootout on the last day of the season - have now won 8 of their last 9 playoff games and stand just one series win from hoisting the Stanley cup.

Who'd a thunk it?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

We Created A Philly Monster

Just what at the hell did we unleash when Olli Jokinen's shootout attempt failed to find the net?

The Philadelphia Flyers qualified on the last day of the season – at our expense – and as the 7th seed I would have bet the house that they would not have Home Ice Advantage for Round Three of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It's a good thing I didn't make that bet because the 8th seed Canadiens beat the Capitals and then the Penguins. And those Flyers beat the Devils (which we very much appreciated) and then – down 3-0 in to Boston in round 2 they stormed back to tie the series three all.

And then game seven was – goal for goal – and exact replica of the series itself. Boston led 3-0, the Flyers tied it 3-3 And then Philly took the game and the series 4-3. And for just the 3rd time in NHL history – and the first time in35 years - a team has overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a series. And to think – we were one shoot out win away from keeping Philly out of the playoffs.

So seeds 1-6 in the East – they are gone. And as much as I dislike the Flyers - that is pretty cool.

This is why they play the games. And everyone who said that the lower seeds didn't matter – that they were doomed in round one – well all of y'all were wrong.

And so Ovechkin, Crosby, Brodeur – they can all sit at home and watch - like us.

Here at Blueshirt Brothers we'll be pulling hard for Gomez and the Canadiens.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Can the Flyers Make History?

We saw it happening at 3-2, but now the Flyers are on the brink of an epic comeback. Down 3-0 in their series with the Bruins, the South Philly fellows have stormed back to tie the series at 3 all.

Game seven is tonight in Boston.

What favors the Flyers? A lot of things. The momentum has shifted all the way in their favor. They're on a hot streak. They are scoring and shutting down the opposition. Their goalie, Leighton, who took over when Boucher was injured in game 5 - has let up just one goal – for a .978 save percentage. So he’s hot and he’s rested. The Flyers, having been written off and left for dead - are playing with house money now - they are reborn and brimming with confidence. The Bruins haven't won a hockey game in a week and have scored exactly one goal since game 4 - they are reeling right now. And in their heads - they are thinking about an epic collapse - instead of focusing on a victory.

What favors the Bruins? Well, they have home ice advantage. And unlike all the other major sports - there is a real tangible edge to playing at home. Your coach gets the last line change - so you can put your best line out against your opponent's worst. But that is about it.

Who will win? The Bruins need to score more than one goal on Leighton. They haven't. If they can do that – especially early - the aura of invincible gets knocked off of Philly a bit. But if Philly gets ahead - Boston may just collapse.

And yes - I am so embarrassingly old that I remember sitting with my Dad as a kid in front of the TV in 1975 watching the Islanders come all the way back from 3-0, and yes - I believe it could happen again tonight. I believed it at 3-0 - I'm certainly not changing my mind now. I’m not rooting for it, mind you, but I believe it can happen.

The winner plays a Montreal Canadien team that shocked and delighted Dave Pucks and all of us here at Blueshirt Brothers by beating first the NHL points-and-goal leader Washington - and then the NHL defending champs Pittsburgh. What an accomplishment - they beat the two top teams in hockey back to back. Congratulations men - I am glad that Ovechkin's name stays off the cup this year - and that Crosby doesn't get to wrap his Olympic gold between back to back cup wins.

Add the ex-Rangers Dominic Moore and Scott Gomez into the mix - and I'm rooting Habs all the way.

We just have that little matter tonight to decide who they'll be playing. I can’t believe that the team we nearly caught for the 8th slot is on the verge of round three.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The psychology of the 3-0 series deficit

Being old enough to remember the Islanders digging their way out of a 3-0 hole, back in 1975 when I was much too young to understand that I was supposed to dislike them (my Dad liked them and I was just a kid - and things were different back then and ... well - I think I just got lost in this sentence and - I'd better start over (editor - Dave is bailing on this sentence - sorry for the inconvenience - we are starting over)

Take 2:. I remember the '75 Islanders coming back from being down 3-0 in a playoff series and winning - and then almost doing it again.

And now the Flyers have a chance to do exactly the same thing. And the thing is - this is not as hard as it seems.

Think of it this way. When you're down 3-0, you just have to win game 4 to stay alive. And you can win game 4. You're going to dig deep and make sure you don't get swept - especially in your own building. And there's no pressure. Your fans and the press have already written you off. You're finished. Your season is over.

Except your season really isn't over. You're like a dead man - but you're still walking. You still have a chance. You haven't lost - you're just losing.

So with the other team over confident - and half way hoping to win the series on home ice in game 5 - you steal one game in front of your home fans salvage some pride. And guess what? You're 3-0 deficit is now 3-1.

So far so good. Then you have to go on the road for game 5. And the weird part is - the pressure is now on the team with the lead. They want to finish you off at home - but in the back of their heads they are thinking "crap - what if we lose this one - we had a 3-0 lead". Instead of a party - game 5 now becomes a must-win game to avoid the start of a catastrophic collapse.

And while they are panicing - your team is still loosey goosey and - wham - you win game 5.

That is exactly where the Flyers find themselves today. Plus, with Boucher hurt - they now have a rested and suddenly hot Michael Leighton in goal that the Bruins have not found a way to score on yet.

At this point the momentum has swung completely the Flyers' way.

- they are at home
- they have won 2 straight
- it's now been a long time since the Bruins have won a hockey game
- the pressure is now even higher on Boston - they are on the verge of losing a 3 game lead in a playoff series.

So any way you look at it - game 6 favors the Flyers. And the Bruins are feeling dazed and confused and wonder what just happened.

Meanwhile, the other Pennsylvania team - the Penguins - the defending champs - face a game 7 tonight at home to Montreal. We are rooting hard for the Habs. They've got great team defense and the better goaltender. It would be great to see a proud Canada team get to round three.

Looks like a good hockey night tonight.

Monday, May 10, 2010

My favorite moments this season (by pucks jr.)

Sorry that I haven't posted in a while, but it was just the way the season ended, we came so close... So any way these are some of my favorite moments this season. They're not in any order just the first ones that come to mind.

It was one of those Penguins Rangers games. Cry baby Crosby had dove over a stick in front of the net, and then complained to the ref that he was tripped. So Lundqvist faced Crosby and smacked him.He smacked him! Then Crosby started hitting Lundqvist with his stick so then Dubi skated from the neutral zone at full speed and smashed Crosby's face into the boards. That's one of the great things about Dubi, he sticks up for everyone (and he usually had no hope of winning a fight). So that was one great moment.

That amazing, come from behind, Devils Rangers victory was another great moment. I want to pick one part but the entire game was just amazing. Lunky's game-on-the-line saves were just awesome. When he stopped Kovalchuk in overtime, and his great saves that kept us with in one goal while we fell apart mid game. And Christensen with his blind behind the back pass to Drury to tie the game up with under a minute left. That's the thing with Drury, he can score as long as he's unguarded and three feet away from the net. And the shoot out goal by Christensen, when it bounced of the post, hit the inside of the net and bounced out. Doc Emerik said it wasn't a goal until it was reviewed and called a goal. Then Lunky's save on Parise and Elias, great game.

Then there was that nhl 3d game debut where we crushed the Slanders five or six to nothing. Not only did we play great we also embarrassed the Slanders on what was probably their most watched game of the season. I don't remember much about the game just that I was so happy that we won.

So maybe this wasn't the Rangers, or the nhl, but another great moment was when fatso (Broudeur) was pulled from the Olympics. Then when the Canadians won the gold nobody would touch fatso. He kept skating up to people and trying to hug them, but nobody noticed him.

So those were some great moments this season, I just wish it hadn't ended so soon.
(Pucks Junior is the 11 year old son of Dave Pucks.)

We don't miss Gomez (and he doesn’t miss us)

Scott Gomez was a Ranger last year. This year he is a Canadian – traded by the Blueshirts to make some salary cap room to bring in Marian Gaborik. Scotty had his moments as a Ranger and we wish him well.

And of course – like any break-up – we’re left wondering if we’re better off without him and if he’s better off without us.

With the Rangers in 2008-09 Gomez had 16 goals, 42 assists for 58 points. This year with the Habs he only had 12 goals – but also 47 assists for 59 points.

In the playoffs this year he has 1 goal and 7 assists (with no goals yet but 3 assists against Pittsburgh) He’s good – he’s not great. He can carry the puck and pass it but can’t get it into the net. He has played okay - but has not stepped up his game in crunch time - much like his behavior here last season. I haven’t seen anything in his play in this second round series that makes me wish he were still a Ranger. Certianly not at his current salary level.

And I’m equally sure that Gomez is happier on the Canadiens right now than he would be sitting home watching the playoffs as a Ranger this year.

It is an amiable breakup. No tears. It’s better for him and for us. (And yes, this means Glen Sather made a good hockey move) And for our part – we can root for him – but I don’t really miss him.

So, I can say in good conscience: Good luck tonight Scotty. Because for you and our newly adopted team - Montreal – your season could end tonight. Habs are home in game 6 against the (Editor: the word "hated" was removed and replaced with the term "strongly disliked") Pittsburgh Penguins and need a win to knot the series at 3 wins apiece.

The other game on the scoreboard is also an Eastern conference match-up and could also be an elimination game. It will be Boston's 2nd try at sending the Flyers back to South Philly. Philadelphia avoided a sweep last week with a 5-4 Overtime victory. But they still trail the Bruins 3-1 in the series and will have to win in Boston to keep breathing.

Anyway - tonight - go Habs and go Bruins.

Friday, May 7, 2010


It's like a sound effect.

Shout it out with me: "LETANG"

Don't worry if your co-workers start popping their heads out of their cubicles to ask what your problem is. Just open your mouth and let it fly:


That's the sound a puck makes when it ricochets off someone's skate and into the net.

Particularly last night when it was Penguin Kris Letang's skate that caused the deflection.


It may be the sound that changed everything in the NHL East playoffs.

But let me back up a bit.

You play an entire hockey season just to get your team in the playoffs. As the Washington Capitals found out - first place after 82 games gets you exactly one extra home game - which only comes into play if the series goes 7 games - by which time you opponent has already beaten you 3 times, knows you pretty well, and has a good chance to neutralize that advantage.

In the NHL’s Eastern conference this year - three of the top 4 finishers were bounced from the playoffs in the first round. The Capitals, Devils, and Sabres all were sent home while the Flyers, Bruins and Canadiens advanced.

But the defending champs - the Pittsburgh Penguins - did find a way to get past Ottawa and into round 2.

And to Sidney Crosby this must look like a dream come true. All of the teams that the Penguins were most worried about have fallen out of their path to the finals. Instead of facing the Devils or Sabres this round the mighty Penguins opponent is just Montreal.

But for a proud and tradition-rich Canadiens team - the mission is clear. Having stunned the hockey world by beating the high flying number one seeded Washington Capitals - can they once again do the impossible by defeating the world champion Penguins?

Last night in game four Montreal was desperately trying to avoid a 3-1 series deficit against heavily favored Pittsburgh. And when the Penguins scored twice in the first six minutes on Thursday night - it started to look grim for the Habs

Crosby and company held the lead for more than 40 minutes of ice time - until Maxim Lapierre (isn't that a great name?) tied it on a wraparound goal at 2:07 of the third period.

2 goals each. Tie game.

And then, then less than 2 minutes later it happened.

Brian Gionta was on the right side of the offensive zone trying to make a play. He didn't even shoot the puck - he just made a centering pass - a pass that did not find any of his teammates.

But it didn't have to.

Like a laser beam the puck struck a Pittsburgh player's skate. Penguin Kris Letang was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And the sound of a hard rubber disc puck striking a metal skate blade was unmistakable:


The puck caromed off Kris Letang's skate - and straight at the Penguins' goal. Marc-Andre Flurry wasn't expecting it and never had a chance. The puck found twine - - the buzzer sounded - the goal light went on - and from there the Canadiens held on for a 3-2 win – new life - and a tied series that will continue Saturday night in Pittsburgh.

The fluke goal keeps Montreal out of. 3-1 hole and grabs the momentum back for the Canadiens. Despite being outshot 35-25 the Habs won. Montreal’s Halak out played Fleury in goal and his team wins the day.

Can Montreal take advantage of their good fortune? Can they parlay this lucky bounce into a series win?

We'll know more on Saturday night at 7pm. I don't know about you - but I'm rooting for Montreal (and against Sid).

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Hail Satan! (Miroslav Satan, that is)

Yes that’s right – we hail Miroslav Satan, who put the Bruins ahead to stay with his first period goal at 5:45 – just 90 seconds after Blake Wheeler had tallied for Boston to tie the score at 1. The Broadstreet Bullies never scored again and visiting Boston won game three by a score of 4-1.

Philly actually outshot Boss-town 35 to 20 but still lost by 3 goals. Time may be catching up with the old man Boucher. The Flyer's goaltender let up 3 goals on just 19 shots. His counterpart - the Bruins' Rask - was brilliant - making 34 saves on 35 shots to the net.

This is working out perfectly for us Ranger fans.

First the Flyers (who we don't like) beat the Devils (who we REALLY don't like) in 5 games. And now in round two - the Flyers (who we rooted for last round but are still are mad at since they put us out of the playoffs in the shoot out of game 82) .are quickly down 3-0 to the Boston Bruins (who we don't particularly dislike at all).

On Friday Boston goes for the clincher and the sweep in South Philly. And Philadelphia's tumble helps Martin Brodeur and the Devils look all the more embarrassed - losing in 5 games to a team that hasn't won a single game in round 2.

Tonight we root Habs as the Canadians need to win game 4 at home to even their series with Pittsburgh.