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McKenzie: Hawks impressive, but don't count Flyers out yet

Bob McKenzie
6/7/2010 12:01:24 AM
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Some thoughts from the NHL on TSN panel on Sunday night:

Of all the players that had the carry-over from Game 4 to Game 5 in a positive fashion, I would say none was more impressive than Dustin Byfuglien.

He had two goals and two assists on the night, and it was like he was shot out of a cannon. He was physically dominant throughout the hockey game, he made plays, he scored goals, and each period he got stronger and stronger.

He had two hits in the first period, three in the second period and four in the third period.

He got the power-play goal that turned out to be the game-winner with Chris Pronger in the penalty box. He beat Pronger in a one-on-one situation to get the empty net goal, and the line of Byfuglien, Dave Bolland and Kris Versteeg was absolutely terrific. They generated four of the Hawks' seven goals.

The Hawks still effectively chased the matchup - they wanted that line on the ice every time Mike Richards' line was out there, but once the game started and Byfuglien got it going, it was a steamroll.

Pronger a noteworthy minus-5

If there is any player on the Flyers or any player in the Stanley Cup Final who could take a minus-5 night and not make it water off a duck's back and just say, "You know what? That's fine, we'll be better in Game 6," it would be Chris Pronger.

The minus-5 is a remarkable number, and it's staggering when you look at it. 

Aside from the Versteeg shot that beat Michael Leighton, when Pronger just happened to be on the ice, on a lot of the other goals scored against on Sunday, Pronger was a central figure.

He didn't get a minus on Byfuglien's power play goal but being in the box when it was scored might have been an insult to injury.

That said, if there's a player that can bounce back from that and a team that can bounce back from that, it would be Pronger and these resilient Flyers.

Quick Notes from Game 5

The man advantage was a big momentum builder for the Hawks in this hockey game. The Blackhawks changed their philosophy on the power-play early - they just started blasting away. Then, by the time they got to the second period and they had all sorts of mojo going, they were playing tic-tac-toe and went all Globetrotter on the Flyers.

As far as goaltending goes, I do think Michael Leighton will be starting in Game 6. Game 5's loss was more of a team breakdown than a Leighton breakdown. Was he great? No, but when you look at Pronger at minus-5, Claude Giroux, who was the hero last game, at minus-4, Matt Carle at minus-3 and Mike Richards at minus-2, there are a whole lot of guys on the Flyers who need to be a whole lot better.

Regarding the missed penalty call in the third period: I'm not saying that the Flyers would have won the game if Duncan Keith had been given a four-minute penalty as he should have been for high-sticking Daniel Briere, but that was almost symptomatic of how it was a Blackhawks night right from the get-go.

 

Bob McKenzie

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