The game of hockey is a psychiatrist’s worst nightmare. One minute you are riding an exhilarating high, and in the span of 20 seconds you are spiraling out of control. In Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals we saw it all. From a goal called 90 seconds after it happened, to a goal being overturned in overtime. Game 3 would a game of horror’s for the Blackhawks, who saw their 7 game road winning streak snapped, as they never looked like they had “it” tonight.
All the credit in the world goes to the Flyers for dominating the 3rd and overtime period. The Flyers were able to control the tempo of the game, and keep the pressure on Chicago Goaltender Antti Niemi.
While the Flyer’s did almost everything right, the Hawks reverted back to their flashy “euro-style” hockey. Instead of dumping and chasing they were trying to skate through the Philly defense. When they did gain the zone they refused to just put pucks on net, instead settling for drop passes and unnecessary passes. Philadelphia implored the same style of hockey that they used in Game 2’s third period, and once again the Hawks could not crack it. One thing that stood out was the Hawks refusal to shoot more from the point. Two of the three Hawk goal’s came from this location, yet the team seemed content with trying to force passes from the slot.
In the last two games the Chicago Blackhawks have been out shot 30-8. Most people chalked up Game 2’s third period woes to having a lead and taking their foot of the pedal. While that seems like a logical opinion, Game 3 showed that it had more to do with the Flyers shut down defense.
Another important facet of the Hawks game that has been missing in this series, is the cycle game. In the Western Conference Final Chicago’s cycle game had the Shark’s dazed and confused. So far in the Stanley Cup Finals it has been nonresistant, which one could attribute to the struggles of Jonathan Toews and Dustin Byfuglien. The Flyers have done a great job of taking away the angles, and getting better body position on Hawk sakters.
Niemi_N0_No’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly:
The Good: Ben Eager. After having a great Game 2, Eager came back with another solid effort tacking on an assist and a +2 rating. In the short time Eager see’s the ice (4 minutes in Game 2, 8 minutes in Game 3), he has made the most of his opportunities.
The Bad: The Power Play. Usually a team is able to show some sort of dominance on the Power Play, but Chicago showed none. Too many passes, not enough pucks towards the net, and just overall bad hockey led to Chicago skating themselves out of opportunities.
The Ugly: The Penalty Kill. Chicago was abysmal on the penalty kill, giving up 2 goals on 3 chances. Once again the point shots were the Hawks undoing, as the Flyers were able to get bodies in front of Antti Niemi and get timely deflections. When Chicago did get a chance to clear a puck, they seemed to get hurried and end up turning it over.