Flyers’ Loosie Goosie Attitude

Watching the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday it’s easy to see that they are a loose group still full of confidence and optimism despite losing Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks. Several young players were laughing and telling jokes while kicking a soccer ball around the United Center in loosening up for practice. Even though Philadelphia didn’t have a night to remember in Game 1 by surrendering six goals and failing to hold three separate leads, they are still pretty optimistic about their chances to win the Stanley Cup. “That’s why it’s a best-of-seven series,” veteran Flyers defenceman Chris Pronger said about how it’s a long series. “The world is not ending, and the sun came up today.” Dropping the first game is nothing new to Philadelphia who earlier this playoffs came back to force a Game 7 against the Boston Bruins after dropping the first three games of that series. In looking at the Game 1 tapes the Flyers believe that their mistakes were preventable and won’t happen again. “I don’t think anybody is hitting the panic button or rushing to do anything rash here,” Pronger said. “We just need to stay focused and play probably a little more relaxed.” An interesting stat provided by the NHL shows that since 1939 whoever won the first game of the Stanley Cup finals has gone on to win 54 of the 70 finals. Still that has not discouraged the Flyers who don’t know the meaning of quit. “It’s never over until it’s completely over,” Flyers forward Danny Briere said. “I feel it’s never been as more true as it is with this team.” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette announced on Sunday that Goalie Michael Leighton who was pulled in Game 1 after surrendering five goals on 20 shots will in fact be starting Game 2. “We’re confident in all our players,” Laviolette said. “We’re confident as a group, the way we play the game.”

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Chicago of Days Gone By

Heading into Saturday night the Chicago Blackhawks stand only four playoff wins away from winning their first Stanley Cup in an unbelievable 49 years. Since that magical ride in 1961 the Hawks have come close including 1971 and 1992 when they made it to the finals but were not able to complete their mission.
In 1961 Chicago won by first eliminating the Montreal Canadiens before upsetting the Detroit Red Wings in six games. During that time the world was far different then it is today. Here is how the world was back then…..
1. Following the April 16 Stanley Cup triumph there was the overnight Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. It was new US President John F. Kennedy vs. Fidel Castro and his Soviet support.
2. The day after Chicago won there was a story from Toronto Star reporter Neil MacCarl in San Juan, Puerto Rico about the season opener for baseball’s International League Maple Leafs vs the Marlins.
3. Early in the Major League Baseball season many players were quoted as saying no one would ever break Babe Ruth’s single-season homerun record. That summer and fall would see Roger Maris capture the baseball world by slugging 61 homeruns.
4. A day after the Blackhawks win the Cup there were adds in the Star showing a new Dodge that was on sale for only $2,375. Meanwhile woman’s nylons were only 69 cents a pair.
5. The Lux Burlesque was showcasing the talents of “Sally The Shape.”
6. TV listings in those days gave viewers a wide variety of decisions on what they wanted to watch. At 7 pm for example they could watch either Leave It To Beaver, Wyatt Earp or Wanted Dead or Alive?
For Blackhawk fans it seems like a lifetime ago that they got to lift the Stanley Cup. Now they are only four tantalizing wins away.

Are the LA Angels Cursed?

Mike Scioscia must feel like his Los Angels Angels of Anaheim team is cursed after what happened on Saturday with one of his best hitters in first baseman Kendry Morales. Scioscia who is the veteran manager suffered a huge blow when Morales who already has 11 homeruns and 39 RBI’s suffered a serious injury after hitting what was a game winning grand slam in the 10th inning against the Seattle Mariners. After circling the bases Morales jumped on home plate and was being mobbed by his teammates who at first didn’t realize that coming down on first base Morales fractured the lower part of his leg. The euphoria among teammates and the California fans was quickly turned into stunned silence as Morales was carted off the field and sent to hospital for x-rays. Surgery will be performed on Sunday and there is a chance that Morales can be lost for the season. Also injured for the Angels was center fielder Torii Hunter who suffered a deep left hand bruise after getting hit by a pitch. Losing these two key players is an obvious huge blow for the Angels who are currently three games under .500 at 24-27 and 3.5 games behind in the American League Western Division.

THE BAD BOYS FROM PHILLY…by Momma Gouche

It’s hard to believe that the Flyers, not only avoided the penalty box for the whole game, but out-shot the Blackhawks 17-9 in the first period of the opening game of the Stanley Cup finals. Ben Eager took Chicago’s first penalty three minutes into the first and Ville Leino netted a rebound three minutes later, to put Philadelphia first on the score board. It took only one minute for Troy Brouwer to even the score, and after the Hawks do a tremendous job killing off their second penalty, Dave Bolland scores to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead. Chicago takes their third penalty and Scott Hartnell ties the score on the power play. The Phillies are not done with the period as Danny Briere scores with 27 seconds remaining to take the lead 3-2. Things were not boding well for my Hawks. Then one minute into the second, on a 2 on 1, Patrick Sharp evens things up — again. Adam Burish takes Chicago’s fourth penalty and the Hawks are in trouble again, but they manage once more to hold off the Flyers until at 7:20 when Blair Betts slapped one in to put the Flyers ahead 4-3. Two minutes later Chicago’s Kris Versteeg ties it up again. Antti Niemi had faced 23 shots to Michael Leightons 13 — Niemi played brilliantly the last five minutes of the second. The Hawks had been playing up and down, but Brouwer gets his second goal with four minutes left in the second. Philadelphia replaces Leighton, after he had allowed five goals, with Brian Boucher after his lengthy break from his injury. Much to my surprise the Flyers had yet to take a penalty and the game had not been as physical as was anticipated. Pronger had tried to intimidate Dustin Byfuglien a few times, but nothing much came of it. Arron Asham scores with one minute left in the second and we’re back to square one — at 5-5. Boland almost scored seconds into the third and Chicago had good control of the puck, after the Phillies had turned the puck over several times. Tomas Kopecky connects at 8:25 and the Hawks go ahead 6-5. Tempers began to flair somewhat, but nothing serious enough to warrant penalties. The Blackhawks had the edge of play for the rest of the game and Niemi played extremely well though giving up five goals. Brouwer, Toews and Bolland also had strong games even though the big line lead by Toews did not register a goal. It was a very strange game that didn’t really give an indication as to which team would champion the series. However, it was very important for the Hawks to take the first game at home.

Gary Bettman State of the Game

Listening to what Gary Bettman had to say on Friday it’s pretty obvious that the long time commissioner is still upset about a recent article published by the International Hockey Ice Federation. In his state of the league address in Chicago Bettman wasted no time in responding to that article which strongly criticized certain NHL stars such as Sidney Crosby, Henrik Zetterberg and Nicklas Backstrom who didn’t participate in this year’s World Championship tournament which took place in Germany. Bettman expressed his strong desire to speak with the NHL Players Association and perhaps end future NHL involvement starting next year.  “I’m not happy with the way the IIHF somehow feels it has an entitlement to these great athletes who risk their careers and put themselves out of their own time without anything but love of country,” Bettman said. “At some point when we’re engaged on really substantive issues with the players’ association I am certain that will be on the list of things we talk about.” Other topics on the agenda included the reassurances that all 30 teams are stable at this time and that contrary to rumours there are not a lot of teams currently up for sale. In terms of expansion Bettman said that he would in the future like to see teams return to Winnipeg and Quebec City. “I’d like to try and fix something that I wish might not have happened in the first place,” Bettman said about the two cities losing their NHL teams. While there are rumours about Phoenix eventually being bought and moved to Winnipeg Bettman wouldn’t give a time table on when Winnipeg might once again get NHL hockey. “I’m not going to put a timeline on it because I do not want to raise expectations,” said Bettman. In other league news the commissioner announced that the team’s salary cap will likely be increased by 2 million dollars and the Calgary Flames will be hosting the annual outdoor game in February against the Montreal Canadiens. Meanwhile on January 1 the Pittsburgh Penguins will be hosting an outdoor game against the Washington Capitals

2010 Stanley Cup Finals Line Combinations

Chicago Blackhawks Line Up

Left Wing                  Centre                       Right Wing

Dustin Byfuglien         Jonathan Toews         Patrick Kane

Troy Brouwer             Patrick Sharp             Marian Hossa

Andrew Ladd              Dave Bolland             Kris Versteeg

Ben Eager                   John Madden            Adam Burish

DEFENCE

BRENT SEABROOK                 DUNCAN KEITH

NIKLAS HJALMARSSON           BRIAN CAMPBELL

BRENT SOPEL                        JORDAN HENDRY

GOALTENDERS

ANTTI NIEMI

CRISTOBAL HUET

 PHILADELPHIA FLYERS LINE UP

LEFT WING                           CENTRE                           RIGHT WING

SIMON GAGNE                      MIKE RICHARDS                JEFF CARTER

SCOTT HARTNELL                   DANIEL BRIERE                VILLE LEINO

 JAMES VAN RIEMSDYK             CLAUDE GIROUX               ARRON ASHAM

IAN LAPPERRIERE                    BLAIR BETTS                   DARROLL POWE

DEFENCE

CHRIS PRONGER              KIMMO TIMMONEN

MATT CARLE                    BRAYDON COBURN

RYAN PARENT                  LUKAS KRAJICEK

 GOALTENDERS

MICHAEL LEIGHTON

JOHAN BACKLUND

STANLEY CUP FINALS SCHEDULE

SATURDAY IN CHICAGO  8 P.M. 

MONDAY IN CHICAGO  8 P.M.

WEDNESDAY JUNE 2 IN PHILADELPHIA 8 P.M. 

FRIDAY JUNE 4 IN PHILADELPHIA 8 P.M.

SUNDAY JUNE 6 IN CHICAGO 8 P.M.

WEDNESDAY JUNE 9 IN PHILADELPHIA 8 P.M.

FRIDAY JUNE 11 IN CHICAGO 8.M.

Chicago White Sox mManager Ozzie Guillen’s temper

Once again Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen’s temper might have landed him in some hot water. Guillen who is known for his fiery temper didn’t hold back on Wednesday night in ripping veteran umpire Joe West after the White Sox 5-4 victory against the Cleveland Indians. During the second inning Guillen came rushing out of the dugout to defend his pitcher Mark Buehrle who was arguing with West who called the pitcher for a balk.  During his animated discussion with the pitcher West saw Guillen coming out of the dugout and motioned for him to quickly turn around and return to the dugout. Naturally when Guillen didn’t comply West went ahead and threw out the colourful manager. When asked afterwards by a reporter why he was thrown out of the game Guillen couldn’t hold back in verbalizing his frustrations which might lead to a heavy fine or suspension.  “Because he’s a (expletive), that’s what he is,” Guillen said. “I just went out to ask him. I wasn’t asking about the balk because you’re not allowed, anytime you go out there to ask about balk or whatever. The thing I went out to ask him about was why he was embarrassing Buehrle. I’m not going out to argue about the balk because of the rule, but I went out to ask him why he’s embarrassing Buehrle, and he gives me one of this (dismissing him with his hands).” Naturally when West was told about what Guillen said he had a different side of the story. “He didn’t say that to me,” West said. “I don’t know what he’s talking about. Ozzie came out because Buehrle was making gestures on the mound that could have got him kicked out so he was protecting Buehrle, that’s all he was doing.” An inning later Buehrle had to be restrained after West gave him the old heave- ho for slamming his glove to the ground right after being called for a second balk. After the game Guillen complained about the lack of respect West has for not only managers but also the players. “When you’re a professional you have to respect the managers, the way we’re supposed to respect the umpires, they are supposed to respect back,” Guillen said. “Sometimes he thinks (expletive) people pay to watch him (expletive umpire). He’s the type of guy that wants to control the game. When you tell the manager to get the (expletive) off the field, I don’t think that’s a good way to handle situations. I’ll be waiting for my fine.” All this built up frustration in a game that the White Sox won.