Game 2 at the Madhouse On Madison proved to be a barn burner as both teams promised to not let another scoring melee occur and both teams delivered...sort of...
In the first period, the Philadelphia Flyers came out more physical and they played the top Chicago Blackhawks' line well. Their main focus was to not allow the Chicago team any space and they did a good job at that.
The Blackhawks returned the favor by bringing more physicality of their own and it, in turn shutdown the Flyers.
With no penalties called on the Flyers in Game One, they saw three calls on them in the first period. None of them caused any damage on the scoreboard.
Chris Pronger and Dustin Byfuglien were at each other the entire game and it seemed the refs allowed them to hack and slash each other all night.
The first period ended with no goals and so far proving that Game One was somewhat of an anomaly. While both teams did step up defensively, Antti Niemi was clearly not tested only facing three shots in the opening frame.
The second period proved to be interesting.
With the Flyers on the PK, Darroll Powe got a free crack at a shorthanded goal but Niemi was having nothing of that.
Right after the PK, Mike Richards, who was in the penalty box, got a pass as he was right behind Chicago's pinching defense and it nearly cost them but Niemi again didn't want to surrender the first goal.
Niemi was getting tested much more compared to the first period and he was proving that he should be there as the Flyers were outplaying the Blackhawks in the first half of the period.
Richards was at it again and so was Niemi as he prevented what could have been a costly turnover to count.
The latter half of the period, it was Chicago getting their chances and Marian Hossa got one by Leighton on a rebound that was literally inches off his left pad. Hossa was right there and he flipped it over to give the Blackhawks the 1-0 lead late in the period.
Just 28 seconds later, former Flyer, Ben Eager got a shot off from Leighton's left and it careened off Flyers' Defensman, Matt Carle's leg to go roof and it counted as Blackhawks' second goal and up as much 2-0.
Here come those bounces.
In the third period, the Flyers finally got on the board early. Simon Gagne got a shot past Niemi to make it a hockey game with just one second left on Patrick Sharp's tripping penalty. On the replay it seemed that Chicago's Defenseman, Duncan Keith was knocked down on the play behind the net and he had to adjust the helmet only to watch the puck go by and count. Blackhawks, 2-1.
The final 12 minutes of play was fast and furious. While the Blackhawks had their chances, it was the Flyers that were...well...Flying!
The Blackhawks, however, played a good collapsing game preventing any rebounds that could give the Flyers a good crack at tying the game.
Leighton was pulled form the net to bring on the extra attacker with 1:44 left in the game. The Blackhawks iced the puck twice consecutively so he figured they would be too tired. He was right.
While most of this time was spent in Chicago's zone, the puck was managed to be cleared to Sharp who took his time and shot at the empty net only to ring it off the left post.
The Flyers tried to quickly get it up the ice, but the shot was too hard and it was iced at 19.4 seconds left which proved costly. The Flyers could not effectively gain the attacking zone and the Chicago Blackhawks are now in the driver's seat with a 2-0 series lead.
While they do have the lead, it still is not a comfortable one. Both games were off by one goal and those bounces I have been discussing in the past once again went by way of Chicago. This series can still go either way and from what we have seen of the Flyers, that could not be so easily predicted.
So which team got it right? Both teams improved equally on the defensive end. Flyers Forward Danny Briere was happy about the defensive part of their game but felt tehy got away from their fore checking.
"It was an attitude change (in the third)," Briere said. "We played with a little bit more desperation. The first two periods, we were just too conservative, playing on our heels. I understand we were trying to play better defensively, but we just sat back a little too much for my liking."
When asked bout applying pressure, Briere also admitted that they didn't get the job done. "We didn't give them much, I understand that. But it's not really our type of hockey. We didn't forecheck. We didn't create much offensively. We didn't spend much time in their zone."
Chris Pronger played another marathon logging 27:52 TOI and he seems to want to get under the Blackhawks' skin by collecting the game puck at the end of Games One and Two. Ben Eager skated up to him and he told him he could keep it. Mission Accomplished? Maybe.
The decision to put Leighton back in the game was a good one in my opinion as he played much better than Game One. Niemi played that much better and wasn't challenged until the final 2 periods.
As far as I was concerned, Philly played better, but Chicago got the bounces it needed to win. It was ugly, but a win is a win and both teams have benefited from the same types of ugly goals.
Games Three and Four are at the Wachovia Center and we will see if the Flyers can make a comeback, or we will start to see the young guns of Chicago hoist Lord Stanley's Mug come the end of this series.
This is Cory Ducey saying "Hit Hard, But Keep It Clean ".
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