Flyers take 2-0 lead on Maple Leafs

By Gina Peracchia
April 29, 2004

Mark Garlit

They defeated the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup Quarterfinals, and as of Wednesday morning, the Flyers were leading their semifinal series against the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-0. Both games were played in Philadelphia at the Wachovia Center where the crowds were going so crazy that you would have thought the Flyers just won the Stanley Cup. Many Flyers fans think, at this point in the playoffs, it’s a big possibility. Flyers fan, Jordan Friter said, “[Coach] Ken Hitchcock has been there before. They can score goals on the power play, and they finally have a goalie who is hot at the right time.”

In game one of the series, the Flyers were confident and ready for anything, including the tight defensive style of Toronto. To make it easier for the Flyers to deal with Toronto’s defense, head coach Ken Hitchcock moved enforcer/goon, Donald Brashear, up from the 4th line to play on a line centered by Flyer’s captain Keith Primeau. Using their size, they were able to shut down Toronto’s scoring line centered by Joe Nieuwendyk. Tony Amonte and Toronto’s Alexander Mogilny exchanged first period goals before Marcus Ragnarsson scored the game winner in the second period. Simon Gagne tacked on a late goal to seal the victory with 4:25 left in the game.

A plus for the Flyers heading into game one was the leg injury that made Toronto’s #1 forward, Mats Sundin sit out for the game. Sundin came back for game two, but Nieuwendyk did not play due to an undisclosed injury.

One of the main reasons the Flyers have won six of the seven games they’ve played so far in the playoffs is because of goalie Robert Esche. In game one he stopped 23 shots, and he followed it up with 26 saves against the Leafs in game two, including several key saves in the closing minutes. In an interview with ESPN, Flyers’ forward, Jeremy Roenick said, “Esche seems like he’s on a mission of proving he’s the goalie of the future. He’s in a zone.”

Brashear and Tie Domi of the Leafs battled again, but this time with goals instead of punches. Brashear sparked the crowd with a power play goal late in the first period. Domi answered back seven minutes into the second period with a goal of his own, deflecting the puck past Esche. Midway through the 3rd period, Alexei Zhamnov scored the go-ahead goal, his team-leading 10th point of the playoffs, making the Flyers’ winning score 2-1.

Posted to the web by:Mark Garlit

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Gina Peracchia

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