To be honest, I hadn’t noticed this myself, but apparently the Blackhawks are blocking a lot of shots.
It’s not that surprising, though. The Blackhawks are doing a great job keeping Philadelphia to the outside. A lot of times it seems fairly obvious where the Flyers’ shot has to come from, making it easy to block.
Peter Laviolette has tried to adjust by having shots come in from the point, but the Blackhawks seem fairly content to let the Flyers settle for something shot in from the blue line.
In general, I’ve been knocked out by all of the little things the Blackhawks do so well.
They’re always in shooting lanes. Since game one, they’ve kept the Flyers out of the slot. And even moving through the neutral zone, they’ll lift the puck over the Flyers, almost like a punt. Using the air attack keeps the puck off of Flyers sticks. But it also seems to make it difficult for Philadelphia to know where the puck is. It’s pretty clever.
The Blackhawks have even used their punt to launch some breakaways.
Having said that, the first two games of the finals have been very close. I haven’t been knocked out by Antti Niemi’s positioning, or lack thereof, and if the Flyers can get to loose pucks a hair quicker, it looks like they can really put up some goals. In fact, I’d use Pronger down low, more like a forward, to capitalize on his size and reach. Niemi gets down very quickly; with Pronger in his face, I think someone could get something past him.
I’m not sure how trainable Dan Carcillo is at this point in the season, but he could probably fill a similar role, although that would entail not running around the ice like a maniac, which might not sit well with him.
Speaking of the finals, here’s a very comprehensive look at the life and work of Doc Emrick.
Emrick’s been great calling the finals. Eddie Olczyk, his color guy, often doesn’t seem to have his mic properly adjusted, though. He’s pretty much impossible to hear during play.