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  • Calder Cup Semis vs. Philly Game 2


    When the Philadelphia Phantoms’ parent team, the Philadelphia Flyers, were on the verge of winning their first Stanley Cup in 1974, when they called the Spectrum ‘home’, the streaking trend was running rampant. Tonight, however, in possibly the last game played at the same historic venue, it was the Hershey Bears doing the streaking, reeling off six consecutive goals on their way to a 6-2 win over the Phantoms. 

    With their win, the Bears took a 2-0 lead in the Calder Cup Eastern Division Semifinals, with the series headed back to the Giant Center for games three and four.

    The Phantoms struck first and fast, only 53 seconds after the opening faceoff, giving the Phantoms a 1-0 lead when former Bear, Boyd Kane, backhanded a shot behind Hershey netminder, Michal Neuvirth.

    Patrick Maroon doubled Philly’s lead at 6:42, gathering in a rebound off the backboards and depositing the puck into Hershey’s cage.

    Even though his team was down, Neuvirth didn’t become despondent in the trying situation and proved that he was back on track by making a slick sliding save on Laliberte at 17:10 to keep it a one-goal game entering the second period.

    “I just told myself it was a couple bad bounces, and I was trying to stay focused the whole time,” said Neuvirth. “I know I can bounce back from that situation.”

    Bears’ captain, Bryan Helmer, demonstrated his leadership by nudging his team back into the game with his first playoff goal since May 16, 2006 with Grand Rapids at the expense of former Bears netminder, Maxime Ouellet.

    “When you look at our team, we’ve got a lot of good character guys and a lot of guys who can score goals, so we’re never out of the game,” said Helmer.

    Staffan Kronwall’s power play blast at 14:58 of the second period, the only goal of the stanza, tied the score at 2-2.

    Hershey penalty kill unit was up to the task early in the third period, preventing the Phantoms from regaining the lead, when Greg Amadio was serving a slashing penalty incurred at 20:00 of the second period.

    On their first power play of the third period, Hershey’s Alexandre Giroux, after a couple misfires, eventually guided a missile of a shot by Phantoms’ keeper, Scott Munroe, at 2:27 to give the Bears a 3-2 lead.

    “If I would have gotten all of the first one, I would have beaten him,” Giroux said. “On the second one, the guy lost his stick and I tried to walk in, and he stopped it. Aucoin and Mink made a great play down low to get me the puck and we finally got it in.”

    Shortly after Giroux’s tally, James van Riemsdyk’s shot found it’s way behind Neuvirth, but the rookie goalie somehow swept the puck off the goal line and out of danger to preserve the precarious one-goal lead.

    Matthieu Perreault put the game out of reach for the Phantoms with his unassisted strike at 13:52, after going end-to-end.

    “I just got the puck behind my net and skated up the ice like I like to do,” Perreault said. “I saw the open space and in the playoffs, you try to shoot as much as you can, and I shot at the net and scored.”

    Steve Pinizzotto’s empty net goal and Francois Bouchard’s power play goal provided the icing on the cake for the Bears, and ensured them a comfortable margin of victory.

    Helmer, a veteran that has seen many playoff situations, while happy with the result of the game and his contribution to the triumph, kept his emotions in check.

    “When I can chip in offensively, it’s a good night and it’s nice; but it’s a long way from being over.”

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    Eastern Conference Playoff Picture Shaping Up


    With Washington’s win over division rival Tampa Bay last night, the playoff picture is starting to come into focus.

    Your top-3 seeds in the East are

    1 – Boston
    2 – Washington
    3 – New Jersey

    Seeds 4, 5, and 6 will be determined this weekend but will include Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Carolina

    Seeds 7 and 8 will go to either New York or Montreal.

    So who’s ready to play the playoff picture game?

    If the season ended today, your match-ups would be

    Bruins vs. Canadiens
    Capitals vs. Rangers
    Devils vs. Penguins
    Flyers vs. Hurricanes

    Caps fans will be pleased to see this, because it means there is a chance they may not have to face either Philly or Pittsburgh in the playoffs.

    Now here’s the rub.

    Philly technically has the fourth seed right now because they are a game up on Pittsburgh and Carolina (even though all three are tied in points and Philly has fewer wins). That extra game comes tomorrow in New York versus the Islanders.

    Carolina technically has the fifth seed over Pittsburgh because they have one more win than the Penguins do (even though they are tied in points) and they face the third seeded Devils tomorrow.

    The Rangers technically have the seventh seed because they have one more win than Montreal (even though they are also tied in points), and they face Philly on Sunday. The Rangers 2-1 win over Philly last night was huge, and when they face Philly on Sunday, it will be the Flyers third game in four days.

    Pittsburgh and Montreal square off tomorrow.

    So, each of the bottom five teams are facing a playoff opponent this weekend!

    Games I’ll be Watching:

    4/11 – 1:00pm – Carolina at New Jersey
    Carolina needs the points more than New Jersey and after a humiliating loss to Buffalo ended their nine-game winning streak they’ll be spoiling for a fight. For Carolina this could mean the difference between the sixth and fourth seeds. New Jersey is already locked in as the third seed, but shouldn’t want to take their foot off the gas now when they are one game away from the playoffs.

    4/11 – 2:00pm – Philadelphia at New York Islanders
    The Isles have nothing to play for. They lost their pride a few nights ago when they dropped one to Carolina in a 9-0 shutout. Sure, they’ll be in front of their hometown fans (what’s left of them) but I don’t see that slowing down the Flyers at all. I won’t be watching this one as much as keeping an eye on it. The only chance New York has here is if the Flyers overlook them and forget what time the game starts. The Flyers may not want to leave it all on the ice in this game as they play again the very next day. Of course, the Islanders are in the same boat as they have to turn around and face Boston the next day.

    4/11 – 7:00pm – Washington at Florida
    No playoff implications here, I just enjoy watching the Capitals. Much like New Jersey, the Caps playoff spot is secure. The Caps are one game away from a franchise record for most wins in a single season, and Boudreau is going to want them to finish the season strong. Florida is playing in front of their hometown fans, and may just like to play spoiler.

    4/11 – 7:00 – Pittsburgh at Montreal
    This will be a good matchup as Montreal will be at home in front of their home fans and *ahem* their home officials. Both teams need the points. For Montreal it means the difference between seventh or eighth seed, For Pittsburgh it could mean the difference between sixth and fourth.

    4/12 – 5:00pm – New York Rangers at Philadelphia
    If Carolina and Pittsburgh both lose in regulation, the Flyers may not need this game, but New York will to secure the seventh seed. If Montreal loses in regulation, the Rangers won’t need this game, but Philly might (depending on whether or not they beat the Islanders) to secure the fourth seed.

    There are far too many playoff scenarios to determine what the actual picture will be, but rest assured it’ll be fun to watch!

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    Capitals Rookie Game Tix Available Online


    The Washington Capitals are set to kick off their rookie camp on September 14, 2008 — check in here for updates from our friend John Sparenberg. As part of the rookie camp, the Caps will host a rookie game against the Philadephia Flyers at Kettler Capital Ice Plex, starting at 3 pm on September 18th. Read the rest of this entry »

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