Heading over to practice in a little bit, but I just wanted to put up a few day-after (read: leftover) thoughts and remarks.
Chris Drury has surely come up big the last two games, and I know the level of love for him here still isn’t high. But the guy is a good, smart hockey player, more so than a lot of other players. He’s just mis-cast as a first-line center or a guy who’s going to challenge for the Maurice “Rocket” Richard award.
But last night he made a few plays late in the game that sealed the deal. One, he was on a late 1-against-3 while his linemates changed, and he curled and dumped the puck into the corner so the Flyers had to retreat while he changed, too. Not a big deal, but a good play. On another, in a defensive posture coming out of the offensive zone, he was able to get a stick on a Flyer’s pass. He purposely redirected it backward to, I think, Marc Staal.
Then there was this one that I noticed, and John Tortorella raved about.
‘You know what was a helluva play at the end there, was Chris Drury,” Tortorella said. “There were, I think 20 seconds left and there’s an open net. The puck comes to Dru and a lot of guys would have curled back with the puck in the neutral zone and get everybody tagged up because we had some guys in the (offensive) zone … and would let the guys tag up and try to score an empty-net goal. He didn’t think that. His instinct was just to get the puck back in. It may seem like a nothing play … but I thought it was just a great play.”
1) How ‘bout the young guys? Dubinsky, Callahan, Staal, Korpikoski, Girardi. All really good, even better than that, in an enormous game.
2) Michal Rozsival played perhaps the best game I’ve seen him play this year.
3) Your goalie is back, which means you have a chance every night, no matter who you play. He made some sick saves, especially that one on Carcillo.
4) We may have forgotten to post the team awards. Lundqvist won the MVP for the third year in a row, and Drury and Blair Betts were co-winners of the Players’ Player award.
5) Clean slate time? I’m not sure everything is fixed now and they’re going to run the table. But what’s important is that they think they’ve earned a new beginning.
“It’s not so much (when you clinch) it’s how you’re playing at that particular time of the year,” Tortorella said. “We’ve seen it all through playoff history, where teams come in and you don’t expect them to be the team near the end as the rounds go by. But they just gain some momentum in the last part of the season, and how they’re playing, so again it comes down to momentum, and that’s the important thing. What team is playing its best as you enter the playoffs, because it sounds stupid but now it’sa whole new season after we play our last game — and we’re going to try to play that to win. Then you start the fun stuff and it’s a clean slate and hopefully we can gain some momentum right away no matter who we play.”
6) I would sit Antropov Sunday and give him a nice respite, and anybody else who’s injured and needs some rest. I know they want to play to win, and it’s important they do something in a road game for the first time in a while, and it matters if they finish seventh or eighth (though I’m not sure which is better). But that game could be nasty and ugly, and having healthy bodies when it’s over is far more crucial than winning Game 82.
7) Did you see all the fisticuffs in Boston-Montreal?
Gotta go. Back later.