Flyers emerge from Game 7
The Flyers found a way to win tonight, largely due to Martin Biron standing on his head and good offensive pressure from the role players. Lasse Kukkonen proved why he should have in this lineup for the entire series (6 hits, 4 blocked shots, 1 takeaway, no giveaways, 2 shots on goal). Jeff Carter once again was the best player on the ice. Carter’s linemate Scottie Upshall demonstrated the point shot that had inspired Stevens to consider using on the power play point during the preseason. Mike Richards executed the little plays as always and was involved on 2 of the 3 Flyers goals.
I’m sure Caps fans are frustrated this morning with officiating, particularly the questions surrounding goaltender interference. (Click here for the NHL Game Highlights.) Bill Clement made an excellent point during the Flyers broadcast regarding the Kapanen goal. In another building on another night with another referee, maybe the call goes the other way. If you watch the tape, David Steckel did play the puck before Thoresen delivered the hit. Kapanen hit the empty net, which is exactly what he needed to do in that situation. Whether it’s a providential play or unfortunate occurrence all depends on who you’re rooting for. In my opinion – the referees called the game tight in both ends, both teams had plenty of opportunities to score goals, and you can’t blame the loss on the referees. I’ve said it when the Flyers have lost games throughout the season – champions win in spite of the officiating.
As to the overtime penalty – Tom Poti is a veteran and should have known better. A few moments prior, Sami Kapanen had been headed towards Huet in a 2-on-1 and was blatantly tripped. The Caps were given a free pass on that one. But every NHL players knows that once you get a free pass, the next borderline call will go against you. Some will allege that Umberger dove. I think that’s difficult to prove. There was a distinct tripping motion, and Umberger has had more difficulty maintaining his balance against the boards since he injured his ACL in the last week of the season. Bottom line – it’s not as thought the Capitals didn’t have their chances to put this game away during the third period or the overtime.
Alexander Ovechkin saluting the fans after the game was a classy move on his part and one of many reasons why he is an NHL superstar. He had a great series, netting four goals and five assists. He had over 30 hits in this series. He is the NHL’s Michael Jordan.
As for the Capitals fans. The Flyer faithful sustain massive amounts of criticism for classless and immature behavior, much of it deserved because we do tend to chant obscenities as a means of demonstrating our opinions. But throwing bottles and trash at the opposition goes well beyond unsportsmanlike conduct and crude language. It’s a dangerous practice to throw things on the ice, period. Shame on Capitals fans for ending a great season with such a pathetic act.
One other quick note – I was watching tape of the game this morning and noticed an interesting moment between Cristobal Huet and Patrick Thoresen. Shortly after the Kapanen goal, one of the Capitals took the puck behind his own net and was waiting for his teammates to set up the play. Thoresen was in deep, standing just in front of Huet. Huet takes the oppotunity to screen Thoresen from seeing the Capital. It even appeared that he was resisting the urge to lift his stick off the ice. I don’t whether there was a verbal exchange, but it was amusing to see a goaltender utilize something out of Sean Avery’s bag of tricks.
All around, a good showing for the Capitals youngsters and a good series victory for the Flyers. Now it’s on to Montreal.