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2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 3: Flyers taking aim at Antti Niemi

Jun 2, 2010, 12:00 PM EDT

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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.”

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