No way was Niemi getting pulled

No way was Niemi getting pulled

Posted by TimS on Sun, 05/30/2010 - 02:04
In a wild Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals at the United Center on Saturday night, won by the Blackhawks 6-5, Flyers goalie Michael Leighton never made it out of the second period - pulled after allowing 5 goals on 20 shots. While Hawks goalie Antti Niemi wasn't as sharp as he was against San Jose and Vancouver, coach Joel Quenneville never considered pulling the 26-year-old Finn. Not with Cristobal Huet having played only one period since March 25. Quenneville blamed poor defensive play instead Niemi. "I think the goals we gave him, I think our coverage wasn't as sharp as it needed to be," Quenneville said. "They put a lot of pucks at the net, created a lot of confusion. I wasn't looking at the goalie to make that change. I thought he gave us a chance, and I thought he did what he had to do, particularly in the third." It's hard to imagine the Hawks winning with Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien without a point and a combined minus-9, and with defenseman Brian Campbell having a poor night and playing only 13 minutes because of it. Fortunately for the Hawks, the Flyers were worse defensively. "We gave up too many prime scoring chances," Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger said. "We have to do a better job shutting down the slot." Despite Leighton's tough night he is expected to start Game 2 on Monday. MORE ICE ISSUES Players from both teams were critical of the United Center ice, which has been poor throughout the playoffs. "The ice was really chippy," Hawks center John Madden said. "It was hard to make a pass out there." "The ice is below average," Flyers winger Scott Hartnell said. "Hopefully they'll be able to do a better job in Game 2." THIS AND THAT The Hawks won 63 percent of the faceoffs with Toews going 18-6. The last time there was a 6-5 game in the Stanley Cup Finals it was Game 4 between the Hawks and Pittsburgh in 1992. The Penguins won at Chicago Stadium to sweep the series. Teams winning Game 1 of the Finals have gone on to capture the Stanley Cup 77 percent of the time.
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