2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 3: Flyers taking aim at Antti Niemi
The Philadelphia Flyers were able to put significant pressure on the Blackhawks and Antti Niemi in the third period, getting one goal off of 15 shots. Yet after the game, the Flyers didn’t feel as if they truly tested Niemi and that while his play was good they never forced him to make truly miraculous saves.
That’s a sentiment I agreed with as well. The San Jose Sharks stated during their series against the Blackhawks that they needed to get the puck up high on Niemi, to test him and force him to make blocker and glove saves. He’s at his best down low, using his butterfly and size to cover the bottom part of the net.
Inexplicably, the Flyers continuously fired pucks at Niemi’s pads in the third period. Granted, things happen in the game that force certain shots but you have to wonder if the Flyers will be focusing on going high on Niemi after scoring just one goal in Game 2.
After two games against Niemi and the Hawks, coach Peter Laviolette agrees that the Flyers need to be taking better shots.
“We didn’t do a very good job of picking our spots last game,” Laviolette said after the Flyers morning skate. “We need to do a better job of picking our spots.”
One thing the Blackhawks did a great job of was keeping the Flyers attack to the perimeter, and not allowing the top line of Mike Richards, Simon Gagne and Jeff Carter to get interior penetration and get to those rebound chances around the crease. The Flyers certainly need to take better shots, but Laviolette says they’re also going to be focusing on creating more traffic in front of Niemi.
“I’m a big believer in traffic, I thought we could do a better job of getting to that area. Always makes life a little bit more difficult for a goaltender. Tonight we’re going to look at getting to those areas if we can, and fine tune our shots a little bit.”
While the Flyers certainly are aiming to create more havoc in front of Niemi, they did a pretty good job of that in Game 2. Niemi was just too confident, too comfortable in his crease and was covering his net perfectly, with several shots making their way through traffic and finding Niemi’s pads.
The Flyers have played well, with certainly plenty of room for improvement. Yet they’re a confident bunch, and will be aiming to find the spots that Niemi tends to leave open. Especially up high.
“There’s room there, I think there’s other room as well,” Laviolette said when asked about aiming high. “Things that we’ve talked about that we’ve tried to show on video. We’ll get there.”