In Chicago’s 6-5 win—the highest scoring championship round game since 1992—both teams’ top lines and top guns couldn’t find the net. They went pointless.
So what will happen if Jonathan Toews(notes), Patrick Kane(notes) and Dustin Byfuglien(notes) get going for the Blackhawks, and if Mike Richards(notes), Jeff Carter(notes) and Simon Gagne(notes) find their rhythm for the Flyers? Could it be 11-10 in Game 2 on Monday night?
Most likely not.
“I thought we had good looks. We just didn’t score and did everything but,” Richards said Sunday.
“I think all three of us know it’s not as much what they did as it was what we didn’t do on the ice,” Toews said.
During Sunday’s off day, both teams stressed tightening up the defense, reducing giveaways and doing a better job of clearing pucks out of the defensive end to make it easier on their goaltenders.
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette first refused to reveal if he will stick with Michael Leighton(notes), who was pulled after yielding five goals in Game 1, or go back to Brian Boucher(notes). Later, Laviolette announced through the team that Leighton will start.
Leighton entered the game with a 6-1 record with three shutouts but was yanked in the second period after giving up the five goals on just 20 shots.
“Obviously I’d be disappointed,” Leighton said when asked how he would feel if he didn’t get the nod. “We’re in the Stanley Cup final. That’s not the time to be mad at someone.”
Toews, who leads with 26 playoff points, was a minus-3 and recorded only one shot in Game 1. Kane, with 20 points, was also minus-3 with just two shots. Byfuglien, the 257-pound forward who plays like a linebacker, was minus-3 with nothing to show offensively after scoring eight goals—four game winners— entering the finals. He also had just two shots.
“We maybe were chasing the puck a little bit too much and weren’t protecting it and weren’t supporting each other. As a line we got to simplify things,” Toews said.
“As the game went along we kind of started pressing on each other to get going. … There were a lot of things we could have done better.”
“I think we just did a good job of denying them time and space,” Pronger said. “If they didn’t have the puck they can’t make plays. … And for a lot of their shifts we played in their end, forced them to play defense and really tried to deny the puck to both Kane and Toews.”
Richards, the second leading scorer in the postseason with 21 points, was minus-2 and got off three shots. Carter was also minus-2, and Gagne a minus-3 for Philadelphia.
“I think persistence is something we need to have as a line and not get discouraged by one or two bad bounces and just keep trying,” Richards said.
If nothing else, the scoring extravaganza demonstrated the depth both teams have, with the Flyers getting goals from Danny Briere(notes), Scott Hartnell(notes), Ville Leino(notes), Arron Asham(notes) and fourth-liner Blair Betts(notes).
Briere, Hartnell and Leino also were tough on defense against the Toews-Kanes-Byfuglien line.
“They can all skate which helps against a line like that,” Pronger said. “Against the line you have to close quickly.”
Troy Brouwer(notes) had two of Chicago’s goals from the second line and Tomas Kopecky(notes) scored the winner off an effective third line that also got goals from Kris Versteeg(notes) and Dave Bolland(notes) on a short-handed breakaway. Versteeg also assisted on Kopecky’s goal.
“It happens. Their top line was a minus as well. Anything can change the next game. It should be a little different,” said Bolland, who has been a defensive nemesis throughout the playoffs.
Brouwer expects both of the high-scoring lines to come out firing Monday night.
“Both those two lines will be very determined because they were held off the score sheet,” he said. “I know the guys on our team feel they can give more.
“They’ve been playing unbelievable throughout the entire playoffs on that first line. You know, some nights they’re going to go dry a little bit. May not find the back of the net like they want to every game, but you know what? As long as the other guys on the team are picking up the slack and helping out, then that’s all you can ask for.”