By: Sean Waters
As this series shifts to Philadelphia, Chicago did what it was supposed to at home, win both games. If I’m Philadelphia right now, I can’t be feeling to comfortable with what happened in games one and two. In the first game, Philly played way out of character and played the Hawks game. In game two, Philly honestly played amazing Flyers hockey. They did everything right for 59 minutes of that game. That one-minute at the end of the second period might have been the unluckiest thing I have seen in a while. The first goal scored by Hossa was a true right place right time deal. Everything was perfectly in place for that puck to go into the back of the net. The second goal by Eager, his first of the playoffs, came off a terrible turnover, was a shot that would not have been an easy save but a save that I believe that Leighton should have had. It was almost as if Eager just got lucky cause he caught Leighton napping. But the most important storyline of the night came on the other side of the ice. Antti Niemi was a star on Monday night stopping 32 of 33 shots with 30 of those coming in the second and third periods. With this, a lot of the saves that he had deserved to be on the top 10 plays of the day due to where the shots were being taken and craziness going on in front of the net.
There were many times during the second and third periods that it looked like Philadelphia was finally going to break down this wall with their great play-designs and rebounding but the Niemi never broke. To give a better understanding of how great the Chicago D was in the third period, Philadelphia was in control of the puck for about twelve of the final fourteen minutes of game two. Niemi did a great job but I also believe that Chicago’s defense deserves a lot of credit as well. As many shots that Niemi blocked it seemed as if the Chicago defense blocked just as many. They did a great job of protecting their goal and picking up the trash in front of the net. The only goal that got by Niemi, scored by Gagne on the Power Play, was a puck that changed two or three times bouncing off of two or three different players, pretty much a shot that in no way was going to be stopped.
Now going into game 3 the big question is what is going to happen with Chris Pronger. After the game, he and Eager got into a little chat that ended with Pronger shooting a puck at Eager. Both players received 10-minute misconducts and with Pronger being the center of the Flyers defense and a veteran in this league, what a dumb thing to do. Now Pronger has a massive X on his back for the Hawks. Lucky for the Flyers, those 10 minutes will not carry over into next game. Also I believe that Pronger should get off the ice when your team loses. There is no reason to just stay on the ice as a visitor when you just lost. To make it worse then to steal the game puck in both games one and two, I mean seriously, that’s the reason why Eager wanted to fight you after the game.
The big issue right now though is winning for the Flyers. They need to find a way of beating Niemi. There defense in game two was outstanding; its just at this point finding out a way of turning that defense and turning it into goals. They are getting great shots off its just they have to go up against Niemi at maybe the hottest point of his career.
For Chicago, you have to be feeling really good. You won games one and two at home and now you go on the road where you have won seven straight in these playoffs. Niemi is playing amazing and still Kane and Toews are yet to score a point in this series. You have proved that you can beat the Flyers playing your kind of hockey and also their style to. The only negative that I have is when you have a chance to close out the game with an empty net shot, you need to make it, Patrick Sharp.
My game three prediction is that the Flyers are going to come in with a lot of energy now that they are playing at home. The downfall of this is that I believe that the Hawks are going to come with more. I think that the Hawks are going to take an early lead and never look back in this one. I believe that Kane and Toews will take over on the offensive side and it is going to be to much for the Flyers.
Chicago wins 3-1