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Leighton or Boucher? Laviolette not saying (updated)

Flyers' Coach Peter Laviolette wouldn't say this afternoon whether he plans to start Michael Leighton or Brian Boucher in Game 2 on Monday.

Boucher, of course, replaced Leighton in the second period Saturday after a shaky performance.

"Let me start this press conference by saying that we will keep everything internally with regards to lineups, lineup changes, lines, goaltenders, anything that's internal, we'll probably keep it internal," Laviolette said. "Our goaltenders will know well enough in advance to make sure they're ready."

What's not up for debate is that Marian Hossa was the best player on the ice for either team in Game 1. He set up both of Troy Brouwer's goals, was credited with two takeaways, helped anchor the 'Hawks' penalty kill and wore down the Flyers by controlling the puck and forcing them to chase him around the offensive zone.

Hossa -- he of three straight appearances in the finals with three different teams -- is also the subject of my story for tomorrow's Post, so keep an eye out for that.

Update:A source has confirmed to CSN Philly that Leighton will get the nod for Game 2.

Michael Leighton will start in Game 2 for the Flyers, CSN Philly.com has learned. The decision was made on Sunday afternoon, and Laviolette confirmed it shortly after.

So there you have it. If that's indeed the case, it's not a huge shock. Word around United Center this morning is that Boucher isn't 100-percent anyway after suffering two sprained knees in the semifinals.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  May 30, 2010; 5:26 PM ET
 
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Comments

I know what you're getting at, you think that had the Caps matched up against the flyers, the Caps would have won because they have more offense.

I believe you're dead wrong if you believe that. the flyers are just as good as Montreal on defense as they proved against them in the series and they have more offense than the Habs.

the Caps couldn't handle the midget forwards of the Habs, what chance would their defense have against the flyers who have much bigger, toughter and stronger forwards who are even better than the forwards of the Habs?

they would have had no problem scoring against the Caps' defense. and if they thought Hal Gill was a monster on defense, think they would have had better luck against Pronger??

Posted by: joek443 | May 30, 2010 12:59 PM

Actually joek, the Caps would have beaten the Flyers because their system works against systems like the Flyers'. Against one like the Habs' or the Devils', not so much. But it's not like that relly matters - the Caps played the Habs and lost, and that's it. But the worst thing that could have happened to the Caps was when the Flyers won that last game in the shootout.

Posted by: timmyv38 | May 30, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

We would have easily beaten Philly...we lost to the Habs because we have not learned how to play against the trap.

Posted by: capscoach | May 30, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Laviolette announced a bit ago that it will indeed be Leighton. I'm not surprised - he has done quite well for the most part in the playoffs.

Posted by: timmyv38 | May 30, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

@timmyv38

On the matchups. I think this year's edition of the Caps would have handled the Flyers more successfully than in past year. (But maybe I'm delusional.)

If the Flyers had met the Penguins in the playoffs this year, they would have been dumped. The Flyers, for whatever reason, seem to have trouble in trying to beat the Penguins.

If the Penguins had met the Devils this year, I think the Devils would have advanced. The Devils seem to have the Penguins' number this year. (The Habs had enough similarities to the Devils so that they had success against the Pens as well.)

A Caps/Devils matchup would have probably been very ugly for the Caps. If the Rangers had won the shootout instead, I think the Caps would have made it past Round 1, not easily but they would have done it. The Devils would have gotten by Montreal as they are a better team that plays the same system. And then assuming that both the Devils and Caps had survived to the Eastern Conference finals, let's say the Devils would be playing the Hawks instead of the Flyers.

Okay Caps, one order of business for next year. Learn how to play trap teams. I did see some progress in that regard in that they could beat the Wild as well as Phoenix. And they did beat some defensive oriented teams (i.e. Buffalo and Boston, even if not a sweep) but the trap teams like Montreal and NJ, not so good here.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 30, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

CapsFan - I totally agree. I do think the Caps wouldn't have had much trouble with the Rangers, although that is largely dependent on how well Lundquist would have played. Of the teams in the playoffs, New Jersey and Montreal were the two with the best shots against the Caps and Pens - who play very similar systems. And I also agree about needing to learn how to beat the trap - it is not uncommon, and the Caps did very poorly against it this year.

Posted by: timmyv38 | May 30, 2010 10:00 PM | Report abuse

@timmyv38

Memo to our two guys who answer to either Alex or Sasha (along with their line mates):

Once upon a time, you were good goal scorers who couldn't play defense worth a lick. You were both significant minus players despite scoring a ton of goals. But things changed. One of you became a significant plus player in 2007-2008. The other of you became a significant plus player the following year. And you both have stayed in the Plus ever since and had fabulous numbers in that department.

So that means you guys can learn. If you can learn defense (or at least improve enough in defense to go from being significant minus players to significant plus players), you can learn techniques for beating the trap. Fpr example, observe some of the Flyers' techniques for ideas on how to handle Montreal and NJ.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 30, 2010 10:49 PM | Report abuse

CapsFan - well said.

Posted by: timmyv38 | May 30, 2010 10:58 PM | Report abuse

I don't care who Philly puts in net, the Blackhawks will abuse them.
Like I have said the cup is the Blackhawks to lose.

Posted by: jotay131 | May 31, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Some of these arguments about the Flyers make no sense. I'm no fan, but I do prefer their style of play over ours. I don't care if we score 12 goals a game in the regular season, if we're not going deep in the playoffs, it doesn't matter.

I don't think the Caps would 'easily beat' the Flyers. The Flyers play playoff hockey, we don't. We lost to Montreal, they beat Montreal. All other arguments or statistics are moot. The Flyers play a modified version of the trap, and do a good job clogging the neutral zone. They constantly take the body and try to wear down the opposition. They crash the net and create a little havoc for the goalie. Just because we were better during the regular season doesn't mean our system is better. Our system (what would you call it other than run and gun?) doesn't work well in the playoffs. End of story. Too many individuals on this team. I'm as frustrated as anyone, but both the Hawks and the Flyers play sound defensive hockey, and the Caps don't.

Lastly, the Flyers have a much, better coach, one who knows how to make in game adjustments and helps set the tone for his team, which as we now know is vital in the playoffs.

All that said, the Hawks are probably a better team than both the Caps and the Flyers.

Posted by: Fletch22 | May 31, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Actually joek, the Caps would have beaten the Flyers because their system works against systems like the Flyers'. Against one like the Habs' or the Devils', not so much. But it's not like that relly matters - the Caps played the Habs and lost, and that's it. But the worst thing that could have happened to the Caps was when the Flyers won that last game in the shootout.

Posted by: timmyv38 | May 30, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

before the playoffs started, I would have agreed but after watching the flyers play in the playoffs, the Caps would have had no chance against them.

and anyone who thinks the Caps would have handled philly in the playoffs is delusional IMO.

you can talk match-ups and systems all you want but they BEAT the Habs in 5 and three of their wins were SHUTOUTS. that's not hypothetical, that's REAL.

untill the Caps go out and actually advance past the second round, it's simply delusional to think that their "system" would work well against ANY team. Last I checked it's NOT the system that wins in any sport. NO system is designed to fail against any system in any sport. it's the desire and execution of the players that wins.

Also if their "system" only works well against certain teams then that system is FLAWED to begin with because you don't get to choose whom you play in the playoffs. they had better find a SYSTEM that works well against everybody.

Posted by: joek443 | May 31, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

I originally thought we would have beaten the Flyers in the PO--but now I'm not so sure. They seem much faster/better conditioned than us (plus they're tougher). Yes, we beat them during the regular season, but even that last game, they were still "learning" Laviolette's system. It will be interesting to see how we fair against them next season.

But I agree that we need to find a way to beat every system.

Posted by: dfe1 | May 31, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Well, the Flyers played against three of the worst offensive teams in the conference in the playoffs and did fine defensively. But that doesn't really mean they are a strong defensive team that can play good shutdown hockey in the playoffs. Chicago is the only team they have played so far that has a strong offence (or really any offence). And how did Philly's defence stand up? They gave up 6 goals without even facing the Hawks powerplay.

There's a huge difference between being able to shut down a single line or a coupe of players (all that was needed against the Devils, Bruins, Canadiens) and being able to shut down a team that has a few lines that can score. When Pronger was on the ice for the Flyers last game, they were fine. But it seemed like everytime he wasn't there they just got worked. Against a team like the Capitals where you have to defend against a lot of offense, I don't know if the Flyers would have been able to keep up. Pronger, Carle and Timonen are pretty solid, but the rest of the defence is far from it. So when you actually need to defend against more players than those three guys can handle it can cause a lot of problems. I could see the Flyers beating the Caps in a series if they outscored them, but I don't think they could shut the team's offence down. They could probably shut one line down pretty effectively but not two or three.

Posted by: Stu_c | May 31, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

joek, no system works well against every system. Each system has it strengths and weaknesses. The Caps' system works well against practically every system - except the trap. And even then, it can work fine if the 2nd and 3rd lines are scoring. Your post is simply useless ranting, with no connection to reality.

Posted by: timmyv38 | May 31, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

One thing people keep saying which has no basis in fact - there is no such thing as a regular season system or playoff system. There are systems that match up well against some systems, and that don't match up well against others. The Caps system is fine, as long as the personnel are doing their job - which was not the case with the 2nd line against Montreal, with the exception of Semin. With a good 2nd line center, and a 2nd line winger who will get in front of the goalie consistently, the Caps system would work fine.

Posted by: timmyv38 | May 31, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Leighton is my boy!

Posted by: GAU8A | May 31, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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