Hockey Today May 13

Hockey Today May 13

Penguins will go up 3-0
By Judd Hall

I guess the drama that was absent from most of the second round of the NHL playoffs hasn’t reared its head in the conference finals.

It’s hard not to think that when Pittsburgh tore down the Flyers as a lofty $2.40 home “chalk” 4-2, while the total pushed ‘over’ the total of 5½. It was the second straight match between these Keystone State rivals that eclipsed the closing number.

What has to make this loss a bitter pill to swallow for Philadelphia is allowing Max Talbot, a fourth-line checking forward who just returned to the lineup since April 29, posted the game-winning mark midway through the third period.

The defeat also marks the first time the Flyers have been down two-games to none as they head back to the “City of Brotherly Love” this postseason. Oddly enough, this series could have been much different if not for a couple of mental breakdowns on Philly’s part.

Game 1 was marred by Philadelphia giving up the puck time after time to the Penguins.

The second match of the best-of-seven was much more to the Flyers’ liking. They hit Pittsburgh more (45-33) and also cut their giveaways down from 10 in Game 1 to seven last Sunday. However, Steve Downie’s turnover at the blue line ultimately turned into the Flyers’ death knell.

Martin Biron played better in goal for Philadelphia in Game 2 as well, stopping 34 of 27 shots. As good as those numbers sound, they’re not up to snuff when looking at the complete body of work. In his first two road games in the last two series, Biron went 2-2 with a 2.75 goals against average and an 89.3 save percentage. His two defeats in the East Finals have yielded a 3.56 GAA with a deplorable 87.9 save percentage.

Is all lost for the Philly faithful at this point? Not really, but the sportsbooks aren’t exactly believing in the Flyers by making them slight $1.15 home favorites (risk $115 to win $100) with the total coming in at 5½.

If the Flyers want to give it a fighting chance, then they’ll need to find a way to get past Marc-Andre Fleury…which is easier said than done. The former No. 1 overall pick has been the most impressive net minder in the playoffs up to this point, going 10-1with a 1.80 GAA and 93.7 save percentage.

Something else that makes Philly’s trek that much tougher is Fleury is the best road warrior in the postseason by going 3-1 with a 1.75 GAA while saving 94.5 percent of the shots fired his way. Just to add a little salt in the wound, he’s posted a 5-3 record with a 3.05 GAA at the Wachovia Center for his career.

Trends could also put Daniel Briere and company on the brink as the Flyers are 8-5 in a game that follows two consecutive road defeats. The ‘over’ went 6-5-2 in that time frame as well.

Philly’s numbers there aren’t that bad, but pale in comparison to its in-state rival. The Penguins are 20-13 in any contest following up a pair of wins at Mellon Arena since 2005. They’ve also seen the ‘over’ go 18-13-2 in this situation as well.

I don’t know if you looked at it, but the current series price doled out by Las Vegas Sports Consultants for the Pens is -950. I’m not shocked so much by the high number, but from the fact that it is still on the board at all. That’s because Pittsburgh is 8-2 in its history when they take a two-games to none lead in any playoff series. One of those losses, however, came at the hands of the Flyers in the 2000 Eastern Conference Semifinals.

This contest will be on Versus starting at 7:30 pm EDT.

vegasinsider.com

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Re: Hockey Today May 13

Sharks fire Ron Wilson after early playoff exit
May 12, 2008

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -With the latest technology and the oldest mind games, coach Ron Wilson led the San Jose Sharks to more victories than any NHL club over the past four seasons.

Not enough of those victories came in the postseason to please general manager Doug Wilson, who's making big changes to a talented team that usually wins, but just can't win it all.

San Jose fired Ron Wilson on Monday after his club followed another outstanding regular season with yet another early exit from the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Sharks won the Pacific Division and compiled the NHL's second-best record with 49 wins and 108 points, but the Dallas Stars knocked them out of the second round in six games on May 4. San Jose ended its past three seasons with six-game losses in the second round, and the Sharks lost to a lower-seeded team in three of their four postseasons under Ron Wilson.

After a week of evaluation with his ownership group, Doug Wilson dramatically dispatched the most successful coach in franchise history to begin shaking up his collection of playoff underachievers.

``Sometimes the class needs a new professor, and sometimes the professor needs a new class,'' said Doug Wilson, who claimed the Sharks played only ``five good playoff games'' among their 13 postseason outings this spring.

``The results (show) we didn't get over that hump,'' Doug Wilson added. ``We kind of got to a certain point, and we got bogged down. You can't just sit back and assume things will be different. I'm not going to apologize for where we're at, but where we're at today is we're not playing, and we think across the board that we should be farther along.''

Ron Wilson's clubs never repeated their trip to the 2004 Western Conference finals despite a roster starring former MVP Joe Thornton, captain Patrick Marleau and goalie Evgeni Nabokov. Doug Wilson acknowledged further changes are in store for that roster, but he started with Ron Wilson, a technological innovator and sometimes stern taskmaster who coached nine seasons in Anaheim and Washington before joining San Jose.

He became the Sharks' leader in victories and winning percentage while going 206-134-45 and winning two division titles during 4 1/2 seasons behind their bench despite the franchise's consistent decision to have one of the NHL's lowest payrolls.

``In most ways I was shocked when Doug told me, but in some ways I guess I was not surprised,'' Ron Wilson said in a telephone interview. ``When it happens when you don't expect it, you're disappointed. I can honestly say that I couldn't be prouder of my work here. I think our team's record speaks for itself. Obviously we didn't win a Stanley Cup while I was here. I'm disappointed in that as any coach would be.''

His 518 victories are the eighth-most in NHL history, trailing only Mike Keenan and Bryan Murray among active coaches, and he's ninth with 1,091 career games coached.

Rob Zettler and Tim Hunter, Ron Wilson's respected assistant coaches, remained under contract to the Sharks and will be candidates in Doug Wilson's coaching search, the general manager said. Doug Wilson said he could interview his first hopefuls by Tuesday.

``Even though coaching can be a very callous and negative position, my staff and I poured my heart and soul into this,'' Ron Wilson said. ``It's very difficult to talk about this unemotionally.''

After putting together a 20-game streak without a regulation defeat shortly before the regular season ended, the second-seeded Sharks seemed poised for their playoff breakthrough, with many experts picking them to win their first title.

San Jose, the NHL's best road team and the league's best penalty-killers during the regular season, tenaciously held off Keenan's Calgary Flames in the first round before falling into an 0-3 hole to the Stars in the tight second-round series, which featured four overtime games.

``I can't control guys falling down,'' Ron Wilson said, remembering the decisive goal in San Jose's Game 2 loss to Dallas, which was set up by Joe Pavelski's pratfalling turnover to Brad Richards. ``I can't control bounces in the playoffs. I would play that series again and go in with the same game plan. You out-chance and outshoot a team, and sometimes it isn't meant to be.''

Wilson's cerebral, sarcastic nature has appealed to many of his players over the years, but others chafed under his style. Though Doug Wilson got his job five months after the Sharks hired Ron Wilson in December 2002, the two former NHL defensemen seemed to forge a strong working bond during their half-decade together.

``Dougie has been an unbelievable guy to work with,'' Ron Wilson said. ``Today is the one day you don't want to see Dougie Wilson come into your office with a stern look on his face, but that's life, and you move on.''

Wilson, who also has coached the U.S. national team on several occasions, is likely to be a candidate for most NHL coaching vacancies if he decides to jump right back behind a bench. Colorado, Atlanta, Florida and Toronto currently have openings, but Wilson said his first priority is to decompress back home in South Carolina before a summer which includes his oldest daughter's wedding.

``The only thing the team can do better, apparently, is win the Stanley Cup,'' Ron Wilson said. ``There's enough talent there, and that's why I wanted to come back.''

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Re: Hockey Today May 13

Tuesday Playoff Gameday

Pittsburgh Penguins at Philadelphia Flyers


The Penguins rolled through the first two rounds of the NHL playoffs, and so far it hasn't looked like the Flyers are going to be able to prevent them from reaching the Stanley Cup final. Pittsburgh opened their third-round set with their state rival with a 4-2 win last Friday night, and they expanded their series lead to 2-0 with another 4-2 victory on Sunday. Sidney Crosby, Marian Hossa, Maxime Talbot, and Jordan Staal (into an empty net) scored for the Pens in Game 2, while Jeff Carter and Mike Richards replied for the Flyers. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 30 of 32 Philadelphia shots in the victory, and Flyers counterpart Martin Biron managed to block 34 of the 37 shots on net by the Pens.

The oddsmakers think the Flyers have a chance to get back into this series on Tuesday night - they were opened as -130 home favorites. The total was opened as 5.5. goals.

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Re: Hockey Today May 13

Flyers D Coburn likely out for Game 3
May 12, 2008

VOORHEES, N.J. (AP) -Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn is doubtful for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals after taking a puck in the face on Sunday night.

Coburn's left eye was swollen shut after a deflected puck hit him early in the Flyers' 4-2 loss at Pittsburgh on Sunday. There was no structural damage to his face, but the blow opened a cut that required over 50 stitches to close.

The Flyers sent Coburn to an ophthalmologist on Monday for tests.

``Everything checked out OK,'' Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said in a statement. ``The only issue now is the swelling around his eye. That is the concern we have right now moving forward. Everything in and around his eye is fine. That's good news.

``He will still be listed as doubtful for the game (Tuesday).''

Holmgren said Coburn's flight home Sunday night was quite unpleasant. The defenseman had lightheadedness and vomited, but had gotten over that by Monday.

If Coburn can't go in Game 3, when Philadelphia will try to avoid dropping into an 0-3 hole, Ryan Parent is expected to take his place in the lineup. Parent is a speedy defenseman who played 22 regular-season games and dressed for the playoff opener at Washington.

``I was hoping he was OK, but in the back of your mind you know you have to be ready,'' the calm, 21-year-old Parent said. ``It's part of my personality. I don't really get excited about too much.''

Coburn's injury is just the latest blow to the Flyers' defense corps. Philadelphia lost top defenseman Kimmo Timonen on the eve of the series against the Penguins because of a blood clot on his ankle.

Without Timonen and Coburn, the Flyers are without two key players who not only defend well but also help on the power play and the transition game to offense.

``Surprisingly, I don't feel that bad,'' said 35-year-old Derian Hatcher, who played 28 1/2 minutes in Coburn's absence Sunday. ``We will all do what we have to do back there. It's tough with Kimmo being out, and if Cobey doesn't play, obviously it's going to be that much tougher.''

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Re: Hockey Today May 13

Flyers home, but not happy with 0-2 hole vs. Pens
ASSOCIATED PRESS

VOORHEES, N.J. (AP) -Danny Briere laughed off questions about officiating and whether Pittsburgh Penguins stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin get more calls than they deserve.

He didn't want to get too involved in criticism, especially now that the Philadelphia Flyers are down 2-0 to their cross-state rivals in the Eastern Conference finals.

Briere took an elbow to the back of the head from Malkin in the second period of Sunday night's 4-2 loss in Game 2 at Pittsburgh. The shot left him dazed, and the Flyers forward missed a shift as a result of the unpenalized blow.

''That is something that should be called,'' Flyers coach John Stevens said Monday. ''We all know how the league is cracking down on blows to the head. If anybody knows that, it's us.''

This season, Philadelphia's Jesse Boulerice was given a 25-game suspension by the NHL, fellow forward Steve Downie was hit with a 20-game ban for a shot to the head of Ottawa's Dean McAmmond, and Riley Cote sat for three following an errant elbow.

While Briere realizes that prominent players have gotten protection from officials as long as the NHL has existed, some consistency would be nice, too.

''I've never considered myself a superstar,'' said a smiling Briere, who signed an eight-year, $52-million free-agent deal with the Flyers last summer. ''Obviously, they might get protected a little bit more. That's understandable, but when they do some of the cheap shots that they're doing I think it would be fair for everybody that they get the same treatment in that regard.''

This is all stuff the Penguins have heard before.

Last round, the New York Rangers were upset about calls whistled against them. Their biggest gripe was the penchant of Pittsburgh's players - especially Crosby - to embellish falls to draw a referee's whistle.

No matter. The Penguins shook off that talk and eliminated New York in five games. Pittsburgh is 10-1 in the playoffs.

''I read some comments about John Stevens, about how he's disappointed about some calls,'' Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien said Monday. ''At the same time, we're disappointed about some calls, as well.

''That's playoffs. There are times you're going to get a call, there's times you're not going to get a call. It's not about complaining. It's about playing the game. You hope to get the calls. It doesn't happen all the time.''

Pittsburgh went 2-for-6 on the power play Sunday and took advantage of a questionable hooking call against hulking Flyers defenseman Derian Hatcher who got his stick caught up with Malkin.

Philadelphia vowed to keep up its physical play because the Flyers feel they have to carry an edge if they have any hope of advancing to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1997.

''Big Hatch was trying to do the right thing there,'' Stevens said. ''If our players take penalties with their intention to do the right thing with effort on the play, we'll live with the call.''

What they can't live with is limited production from the line of Briere, Vaclav Prospal and Scott Hartnell. The trio is pointless in the series and a minus-7.

The Penguins practiced at home Monday and then endured delays as they tried to make it across Pennsylvania on a very stormy day. Upon arrival, they will face arguably the most volatile fans in the league.

Game 3 is Tuesday night in Philadelphia with the Flyers favored at -105, and Game 4 is Thursday.

''I would say it's a pretty tough place to play,'' Crosby said. ''At the same time, in the playoffs it makes for a great atmosphere. ... They're just a tough crowd. They're not afraid to say anything.''

For the first time in these playoffs, the Flyers are returning home for a Game 3 in a 2-0 hole. In series wins over Washington and Montreal, Philadelphia shook off losses in the opener to race out to 3-1 edges. Washington won twice to force a Game 7. Montreal went out in five.

''The real important thing is that we feel we have another level and we're going to hit that level (Tuesday) night,'' Hatcher said.

The breaks that seemed to go Philadelphia's way in the past now appear to favor Pittsburgh. A pair of 4-2 road losses have the Flyers facing what amounts to a must-win contest Tuesday.

''We're 0-2 right now, and I don't think we've played very well,'' said Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren, who praised the officiating in the already-physical series. ''We played better in the second game, but I think we have to play better if we expect to win a game.''

Both teams held optional practices on Monday, and Crosby took the opportunity to take a spin on the ice before hopping on the plane.

''Going home, they want to play well,'' Crosby said. ''Every game is important, but they want to make sure that they win this next one, there is no doubt.''

Philadelphia defenseman Braydon Coburn spent his morning visiting an ophthalmologist and undergoing tests to determine if he sustained any eye damage when he was struck in the face by a deflected puck Sunday.

The Flyers don't believe his left eye was damaged, but it was swollen shut. Coburn didn't break any bones, never lost consciousness, and didn't suffer a concussion when he was hit early in the first period. He did, however, lose quite a bit of blood from a cut that required over 50 stitches to close.

That made his flight home Sunday night unpleasant as he had lightheadedness and vomited, Holmgren said. A final determination has yet to be made, but Coburn is expected to be out at least for Game 3. Ryan Parent, who played 22 regular-season games and dressed for the playoff opener at Washington, will likely take his place in the lineup.

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Re: Hockey Today May 13

Hockey Today

Pittsburgh at Philadelphia (7:30 p.m. EDT). The Penguins have a two-game lead over the Flyers in their Eastern Conference final series.

Wednesday, May 14

Detroit at Dallas (8 p.m. EDT). The Red Wings can advance to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 2002 with a victory.

STAR

-Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings, recorded his first career hat trick to lead Detroit to a 5-2 victory over Dallas and a 3-0 series lead in the Western Conference finals.

STREAKING

Detroit won its ninth consecutive playoff game Monday night, beating the Stars 5-2 behind Pavel Datsyuk's first career hat trick to take a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference finals. Henrik Zetterberg added a short-handed goal and two assists as the Red Wings try to advance to the finals for the first time since winning the Stanley Cup in 2002, starting Wednesday night in Dallas.

MOVING ON

San Jose fired coach Ron Wilson on Monday after his club ended its third straight season with a second-round six-game loss. The Sharks won the Pacific Division title and compiled the NHL's second-best record with 49 wins and 108 points, before Dallas knocked them out of the playoffs. Wilson, who coached nine seasons in Anaheim and Washington, went 206-134-45 and won two division titles during 4 1/2 seasons with San Jose. His 518 victories are eighth-most in NHL history and he's ninth with 1,091 career games coached.

STEADY

Pittsburgh has a 2-0 series lead for the third time this postseason, going 10-1 overall heading into Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals at Philadelphia on Tuesday night.

SIDELINED

Dallas right wing Jere Lehtinen was scratched from Game 3 of the Western Conference finals Monday night because of a leg injury, while Detroit right wing Johan Franzen was sidelined for the second consecutive game with concussion-like symptoms. The Red Wings won 5-2 to take a 3-0 series lead.

WORLD HOCKEY

Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky scored three goals and the Americans locked up third place in the qualifying round at the world hockey championships with a 9-1 win Monday over Norway. The U.S. (3-2) will next play Finland.

SWINGS

With Detroit's 5-2 victory Monday night in the Western Conference finals, goalie Chris Osgood improved to 9-0 this postseason, while Stars netminder Marty Turco fell to 2-13-5 against the Red Wings overall.

STATUS

Philadelphia defenseman Braydon Coburn is doubtful for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals Tuesday night after taking a puck in the face during a 4-2 loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday night. Coburn's left eye was swollen shut and a cut required over 50 stitches to close.

SIGNING

Nashville signed 26-year-old forward Martin Erat to a seven-year, $31.5 million contract. Erat is third on the team in career scoring (253) in more than 400 NHL games. He had 23 goals and 34 assists in 76 games this season.

SPEAKING

``Sometimes the class needs a new professor, and sometimes the professor needs a new class. The results (show) we didn't get over that hump. We kind of got to a certain point, and we got bogged down. You can't just sit back and assume things will be different. I'm not going to apologize for where we're at, but where we're at today is we're not playing, and we think across the board that we should be farther along.'' - San Jose general manager on the firing Monday of coach Ron Wilson.

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Re: Hockey Today May 13

Tuesday’s best NHL bet
COVERS.com

Pittsburgh at Philadelphia +110, 5½

The Philadelphia Flyers obviously haven’t learned much from the New York Rangers’ demise. New York couldn’t keep itself out of the penalty box against the Penguins and ultimately couldn’t do anything to slow down Pittsburgh’s deadly powerplay. Now the Flyers are falling into the same trap.

Philadelphia has lots of speed up front, but its defense – specifically Derian Hatcher – can’t keep up when the Penguins start wheeling around and cycling the puck deep. That leads to lazy obstruction penalties. Philly took 10 penalties in Game 2, a pair of which resulted in Pittsburgh goals, after staying fairly disciplined in the first game of the series.

The Flyers are in huge trouble if they start a parade to the penalty box again once they get back in front of their home crowd, though something tells us Philly coach John Stevens has already told them all about that. They can hang in there at even strength and it’s now or never for the Flyers

Pick: Philadelphia

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Re: Hockey Today May 13

NHL LONG SHEET

PITTSBURGH (57-28-0-8, 122 pts.) at PHILADELPHIA (50-34-0-12, 112 pts.) - 5/13/2008, 7:35 PM
Top Trends for this game.
PHILADELPHIA is 15-7 ATS (+7.3 Units) after a loss by 2 goals or more in their previous game this season.
PITTSBURGH is 57-36 ATS (+11.1 Units) in all games this season.
PITTSBURGH is 17-11 ATS (+28.5 Units) in a road game where where the total is 5.5 this season.
PITTSBURGH is 37-18 ATS (+13.6 Units) second half of the season this season.
PITTSBURGH is 10-3 ATS (+13.3 Units) on Tuesday nights this season.
PITTSBURGH is 28-18 ATS (+7.5 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record this season.
PITTSBURGH is 18-10 ATS (+6.5 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record in the second half of the season this season.
PHILADELPHIA is 22-44 ATS (-25.5 Units) vs. division opponents over the last 2 seasons.
PHILADELPHIA is 8-13 ATS (+8.0 Units) in home games revenging a loss versus opponent this season.
 
Head-to-Head Series History
PITTSBURGH is 15-11 (+6.1 Units) against the spread versus PHILADELPHIA over the last 3 seasons 
PITTSBURGH is 15-11-0 straight up against PHILADELPHIA over the last 3 seasons 
17 of 25 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons . (Over=+8.1 Units)

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Re: Hockey Today May 13

NHL SHORT SHEET

Eastern Conference Playoffs
Conference Finals
Game Three
Penguins Lead, 2-0
Pittsburgh at Philadelphia, 7:35 ET

Pittsburgh:
10-1 SU as a # 2 seed in the playoffs
10-3 SU on Tuesday nights

Philadelphia:
1-18 SU after BB losses by 2+ goals
2-10 SU revenging 2 straight losses

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Re: Hockey Today May 13

2008 NHL playoffs

Home team won last nine series games; Penguins went 8-0 vs Flyers LY; they won the first two games in this series to even season series 5-5; over is 13-2 in the last fifteen series games. Penguins went 0-4 in Philadelphia this season, with losses by 5-2/8-2/4-3/2-0 scores. Pneguins are 10-1 in playoffs, 3-1 away from home, with three of the four road games staying under.

Detroit won first three games of series 4-1/2-1/5-2, is now 6-1 vs the Stars this season, 10-2 in last 12 overall vs Dallas. Five of their last seven visits to Dallas stayed under total, with Red Wings 5-2 in those seven Under is 7-4-2 in last 13 series games overall. Red Wings have won nine games in a row since being tied 2-2 in an opening series vs Nashville. Stars are 4-3 at home so far in these playoffs; its win or go home for them.

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Trend Sheet

7:30 PM PITTSBURGH vs. PHILADELPHIA
Pittsburgh is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games when playing on the road against Philadelphia
The total has gone OVER in 8 of Pittsburgh's last 9 games when playing on the road against Philadelphia
Philadelphia is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games
The total has gone OVER in 6 of Philadelphia's last 7 games

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