St. Petersburg Times
Tampa Bay Lightning
Print story Reuse or republish Subscribe to the Times

A positive spin on a negative result

Trailing in a series for the first time this postseason, the Flyers still see some good signs.

By BRANT JAMES, Times Staff Writer
Published May 9, 2004

Photo gallery
Bargain tickets worth the wait
Shelton: New kid in town no cause for frown

Main Lightning page

Lightning in print

Hockey School

TAMPA - John LeClair's two whacks at a puck in the crease had just resulted in nothing but another frustrating scoring chance smothered. Then Lightning defenseman Brad Lukowich planted the palm of his glove right in his face. The final insult.

LeClair took a roundhouse swing but missed that, too. With 7:36 left and the Lightning leading 3-1 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final, the Flyers were finally succumbing to the tenacious forecheck after dominating much of the game with physical play and surprising speed.

A 3-1 loss should have been the period on a bad chapter for the Flyers. They fell behind in a series for the first time this year.

After talking tough about how several player additions would reverse a season series the Lightning swept 4-0, they had been outdone again.

A first-period goal by Sami Kapanen that would have given them a 1-0 lead was disallowed because of goaltender interference. Their big forwards scored just one goal against the Lightning's smaller defensemen. And LeClair, a $9-million forward, remained without a goal in 12 games.

However, Philadelphia was upbeat after losing because of what players believed were three mistakes amid a game of positives.

"Compared to where we were in February," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said, "it's like night and day. And if we continue to improve on some of the things we did (Saturday) ... there's some really good stuff out there."

Then Hitchcock disputed the Lightning's supposed edge in the series.

"I didn't notice their speed," he said. "I didn't see it. I didn't notice it. They started icing the puck in the second period, and then they got in some foot races. That's maybe where you saw it a little bit. But they turned a lot of pucks over, which is good for us. That's a good sign. That means we're working."

So were the four total shots - two by Brad Richards, one a goal - among the Lightning's top five postseason scorers, including Vinny Lecavalier and likely league most valuable player Martin St. Louis.

The group had two shots through the second period.

Though the Flyers could explain some of their problems, they had no solutions - besides a score on a fine individual play by Michal Handzus - for a defense that has allowed 10 goals in 10 games.

And Philadelphia could not hide how much it needs a statistical contribution from LeClair, who had 23 goals and 55 points in the regular season but just one assist in the postseason.

After missing twice on two-on-one chances in the first, he is scoreless in six games.

"I think he's snakebitten a little bit and squeezing it a little bit tight," Hitchcock said. "He played a heck of a hockey game. He was physical and took away some people's space."

"I'm confident it will happen," LeClair said. "As long as I contribute in other ways, I won't get frustrated."

The Flyers won't call Game 2 on Monday a must-win, but they sound like it is.

"It's a big climb (going down 0-2)," right wing Tony Amonte said.

"We wanted to come down here and take one game and we have to put everything we have into it, play it like a Game 7."

[Last modified May 9, 2004, 01:41:11]

Today's lineup

  • One down
  • A positive spin on a negative result
  • Glory days revisited for Andreychuk
  • Keeping an eye on the Cup
  • A poke, a shot, a goal
  • Period summaries

  • Rays
  • How much losing can a winner take?
  • GM LaMar trying for optimism
  • Got a minute? Doug Waechter
  • Angels pound Rays in 7th
  • Minor-leaguers might get their chance soon

  • Other sports

  • Times wins awards in '03 state contest

  • Arena league
  • McPherson bounces up off the deck
  • Less is more for Stafford and Storm

  • Baseball
  • Turning 40 means little to Larkin
  • Big inning sees 18 runs
  • AL: Rangers win after record 18-run 5th
  • NL: Griffey powers Reds past Giants

  • Colleges
  • FSU stuns foes with NCAA trip

  • Extra
  • Uncharted waters

  • Golf
  • Oberholser gets hot as field wilts

  • In brief
  • Venus' status is uncertain for German final

  • Motorsports
  • Truex takes Busch Series race, points lead

  • NBA
  • Pacers clamp down on Heat

  • NFL
  • Tillman honored on his NFL, college field

  • NHL
  • Stunning final again in West

  • Opinion
  • Out with old ... in with old

  • Outdoors
  • Daily fishing report
  • Personal is made popular yet again

  • Parimutuels
  • Smarty Jones gallops for some 4,000 fans

  • Preps
  • Kopp resigns as Wesley Chapel girls basketball coach
  • Doc takes two
  • Pitching, defense lead way
  • Plenty of pitchers look to lead locals to Legends
  • Runners-up runners
  • Stirring up trouble for foes

  • World Hockey
  • Swedes oust USA, face Canada
  • Letters to the Editor: People in glass houses ...
  • Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111