[caption id="attachment_3333" align="aligncenter" width="136" caption="Thanks to Flyers History"][/caption]
Mark Eaton may not be remembered by Flyers' fans for leading the league in points or for being a physical defender, but that doesn't mean Eaton will be forgotten. Not only is he the lone Delaware-born player to ever play in the NHL, Eaton was also part of the highly despised 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins team that won a Stanley Cup beating the Flyers on the way. Starting out with the Philadelphia Phantoms in 1998-1999 up to the New York Islanders this past year, Eaton has played with seven different professional teams. What has Eaton done since his rookie season in Philly?
As an undrafted free agent, Eaton was signed by the Flyers in July of 1998. After a season with the Phantoms, Eaton played in 27 games for the Flyers during the 1999-2000 season. He may have had only one goal that season, but it was a game-winning goal against the Boston Bruins on April 8. Eaton also had an assist in his short regular season with the Flyers before the playoffs began. As the Flyers lost to the Devils in 7 games during the Eastern Conference Finals, Eaton experienced 7 games with the club going pointless and penalty free the entire span.
Just before the 2000-2001 season began, Eaton was traded to join Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell with the Nashville Predators for a 3rd round pick, with which the Flyers picked Patrick Sharp in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.
[caption id="attachment_3334" align="aligncenter" width="194" caption="Thanks to applecorejunior.com"][/caption]
"I think it'll be a blessing to get away from local pressure," Eaton told Les Bowen at the Daily News. "The friends and family watching me and being able to read everything about me. It'll be good to put that part behind me".
Splitting his time evenly between the Preds and their minor league affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals (a team boasting Randy Robitaille and Rory Fitzpatrick), Eaton played 34 games for both clubs and scored 3 goals for each as well.
In the 2001-2002 season, Eaton saw former teammate Andy Delmore join Nashville as well as play in 58 games for the Predators with three goals and five assists. Despite playing in more games for the Predators, Eaton ended the season with a plus/minus of -12, his career low to this date.
The following season Eaton played in slightly fewer games for the Predators during a season where Scottie Upshall was making his NHL debut with the club. In 50 games, Eaton had two goals and seven assists. Also playing with the Admirals for the first time since 2000-2001, Eaton had a goal in 3 games for Milwaukee.
[caption id="attachment_3335" align="aligncenter" width="182" caption="Thanks to armchair-sports-cards.com"][/caption]
The 2003-2004 season was a big step for Eaton's career. Not only was it the season in which he had played the most games (75), but it was the first time Eaton played in the NHL playoffs since his rookie season. Unfortunately for the Predators, the top-seeded Detroit Red Wings won the series in six games. Unfortunately for Eaton, he had gone pointless in the playoffs yet again.
During the lockout, Eaton joined the Grand Rapids Griffins, a team that had Niklas Kronwall, Jiri Hudler, Bryan Helmer, Tomas Kopecky, Derek Meech, Brett Lebda, and Joey MacDonald. Playing in just 29 games for Grand Rapids, Eaton had three goals and three assists.
[caption id="attachment_3336" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Thanks to penshead.com"][/caption]
After the lockout, Eaton returned to the Predators as they added superstar Paul Kariya as well as former Flyers Mike Sillinger and Danny Markov. Playing in 69 games for Nashville, Eaton's numbers dropped, most notably his plus/minus by 18 (+16 in 2003-2004 to -2 in 2005-2006). Despite his play dropping slightly, the Predators advanced to the playoffs for a second straight year to face the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. The Sharks won the series in five games as Eaton went pointless during the series.
Eaton left the Predators for the Pittsburgh Penguins during the summer of 2006 via free agency. Joining with Mark Recchi and John LeClair, Eaton played in only 35 games due to wrist and knee injuries, the fewest number of NHL games for Eaton in a season since 2000-2001. In his short season with Pittsburgh, Eaton failed to score a single goal, the first time he's gone scoreless for an entire season at any point in his career. Joining the Penguins for their first round five game loss to the Ottawa Senators, Eaton went pointless for those five games extending his streak to 23 NHL playoff games without a point.
The 2007-2008 season was more of the same for Eaton as he was limited to 36 goalless games for the Penguins due to a knee injury.
The Penguins, however, didn't seem greatly affected by the absence of Eaton. Falling two wins short of a Stanley Cup victory, the Penguins changed a few things for the 2008-2009 season. One of those changes was adding Mark Eaton to the playoff roster.
In a season that wasn't distracted with injuries, Eaton was capable of playing in 68 games for Pittsburgh. He'd score four goals, the most in a season since 2003-2004, and have five assists before the Penguins took on the Flyers in the first round of the 2009 playoffs.
Thanks to the Flyers' inability to win/lose in overtime on the last day of the regular season, the Penguins were handed the fourth seed in the East along with home ice advantage in the opening round. Eaton did his part in the series scoring two goals as the Pens won in six games. After scoring a goal in the first game of the series, Eaton scored the second goal in the Penguins' Game 6 rally that saw an 0-3 deficit become a 5-3 win as they eliminated Philly from the playoffs.
Next in line for Pittsburgh was the Washington Capitals. As the Pens won the series in seven, Eaton had two goals in the series, one of which was a game-tying goal in Game 1. Eaton's only assist in the series was the primary assist on Kris Letang's overtime game-winner in Game 3.
Moving on to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Finals, Eaton was finished scoring goals for the playoffs, but that didn't mean he wouldn't help his team. He'd have an assist in Game 2 of the ECF and an assist in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Red Wings as the Penguins went on to win the Stanley Cup. In their 24-game Cup run, Eaton played every game scoring four goals and registering three assists.
[caption id="attachment_3338" align="aligncenter" width="200" caption="Thanks to Zimbio.com"][/caption]
"When you're a kid, whatever sport you're pursuing, it's your dream to get to the top and win a championship," Eaton told the Beaver County Times. "Outside of family, this is the best thing that could ever happen to a pro athlete."
The following season would be Eaton's last in Pittsburgh as he played in 79 games for the Penguins. During this season Eaton had three goals and 13 assists, the most assists he's had during any season in the NHL. Eaton didn't score any goals in the playoffs, but he did have three assists in 13 games as the Pens fell to the Canadiens in a seven-game Eastern Conference Semifinals series.
Ending his four year stint with Pittsburgh, Eaton left to play for the New York Islanders this past season. Long Island is an area Eaton former played hockey in as he was part of the Apple Core Junior B's for two seasons, a team that plays on Long Beach.
"I loved playing here in Long Island," Eaton told Dyan LeBourdais of the Islanders' website. "It was a huge stepping stone in my hockey career. I'm looking forward to it. My wife and I, my family, we're definitely looking forward to it."
[caption id="attachment_3337" align="aligncenter" width="230" caption="Thanks to Islanders.nhl.com"][/caption]
As the Islanders extended their postseason drought to four seasons, Eaton played in 34 games before a hip injury made him miss the second half of the season. In those 34 games, Eaton had three assists.
His time in Philly was short, but Eaton should be remembered not only for where he's from, but for what he's accomplished in his career.
[caption id="attachment_3234" align="aligncenter" width="240" caption="Thanks to bestsportsphotos.com"][/caption]
What do Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timonen, and Janne Niinimaa all have in common? They were all drafted in the 1993 NHL Entry draft. How many were drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers? Only Janne Niinimaa. Pronger went second, to the Hartford Whalers, while Timonen could be considered the hidden gem of the draft going 250nd to the Los Angeles Kings. Well, we know what Pronger and Timonen are doing with their careers now, but what about Niinimaa? Before the aforementioned question is answered, let us remember Niinimaa's brief time spent in Philly.
Spending three seasons with Jokerit in the SM-liiga after being drafted by the Flyers, Niinimaa made his way to the NHL roster for the start of the 1996-1997 season. Niinimaa played 77 games that season registering four goals and 40 assists, good enough to be ranked seventh on the team in points and to be named to the NHL All-Rookie Team. Seventh doesn't sound too good, but keep in mind the 96-97 Flyers also had Eric Lindros, John LeClair, Rod Brind'Amour, Eric Desjardins, Paul Coffey, and Dale Hawerchuk.
Helping the Flyers reach a record of 45-24-13, Niinimaa and his teammates geared up for a Cup run. In the 15 games leading up to the Stanley Cup Finals (4-1 over Pittsburgh, 4-1 over Buffalo, 4-1 over New York), Niinimaa had nine assists, a plus/minus rating of +8, and had the game-winning goal in Game 1 against the Rangers. The only thing left to do in his impressive rookie season was to end the city's (at the time) 22-year Stanley Cup drought.
Thanks to CursedLemon
The Flyers opponent for the Finals was another team trying to end a long Stanley Cup drought of their own in the Detroit Red Wings. Experiencing 42 straight Cupless years, Detroit's hunger for the Cup was felt in Philly as the Red Wings swept the Flyers. Despite a two-assist game in Game 2, Niinimaa finished the series with only three points and a plus/minus rating of -5. In addition, Niinimaa was turned inside out on Darren McCarty's Cup-winning goal, a play that many people will remember Niinimaa for rather than his rookie season numbers.
[caption id="attachment_3235" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Thanks to coppernblue.com"][/caption]
The next season, after 66 games with the Flyers, Niinimaa was shipped to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Dan McGillis and a 2nd round pick in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft (who turned out to be Jason Beckett). In 11 games for the Oilers to end the 97-98 season, Niinimaa had a goal and eight assists; McGillis had a goal and five assists in 13 games for Philly while Beckett never played in the NHL.
During the latter part of the 1998 NHL season, Niinimaa played for his home country of Finland in the Olympics. Niinimaa had three assists in six games as Finland grabbed the Bronze medal.
Niinimaa and the Oilers faced the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the 1998 playoffs. Down 3-1 in the series, the Oilers came back to win the series. Niinimaa had an assist, a plus/minus rating of +5, and the series-winning goal.
Niinimaa's clutch scoring moved the Oilers on to the second round to face the Dallas Stars. Unfortunately, the Stars won the series in five games. Niinimaa had minimal impact on the series as he went pointless with a -2 rating.
Playing the next four seasons in Edmonton, Niinimaa became a staple on the blue line playing at least 81 regular season games in each of the four years. His most impressive year was the 2000-2001 season when he had 12 goals and 34 assists while being named to the NHL All-Star Game. Despite Niinimaa's respectable numbers and play during these four seasons, the Oilers couldn't make it past the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
[caption id="attachment_3236" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Thanks to Zimbio.com"][/caption]
In 2002, Niinimaa again represented Finland in the Olympics. Although his home country didn't win a medal this time around, Niinimaa still posted good numbers assisting on three goals in four games.
After playing in his fifth season with the Oilers, Niinimaa found his way to a third different NHL team. This time, it was the New York Islanders. Niinimaa was shipped off to Long Island with a second round pick (who turned out to be Evgeni Tunik) in exchange for Brad Isbister and current Cup contender Raffi Torres.
[caption id="attachment_3237" align="aligncenter" width="200" caption="Thanks to NHL.com"][/caption]
Playing under current Flyers' head coach Peter Laviolette and playing along Arron Asham, Mattias Timander, Randy Robitaille, and Garth Snow, Niinimaa had a goal and five assists in 13 games for the Islanders before they faced the Ottawa Senators in the opening round of the 2003 playoffs. The Senators beat the Isles in five games as Niinimaa had one assist in the series.
Niinimaa went on to play his only full season for the Islanders in 2003-2004 posting nine goals and 19 assists in 82 games. However, similar to the previous season, the Islanders had their Cup dreams smashed only five games into the opening round as they lost their series to the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1. Niinimaa performed strongly in the brief series scoring his first playoff goal since his series-winning goal against Colorado in 1998 and posted two assists.
Like most NHL players during the 2004-2005 lockout, Niinimaa played in another professional league. His team of choice was Karpat of the SM-liiga, a team that included Jussi Jokinen, Mika Pyorala, Michael Nylander, Lasse Kukkonen, Pekka Rinne, and Niklas Backstrom. In 26 games with Karpat, Niinimaa had three goals, 10 assists, and was a +14 (his best plus/minus rating since his 1999-2000 season with Edmonton).
After spending time with Karpat during the lockout, Niinimaa moved on to Malmo IF of the Swedish Elite League (SEL). Playing with Richard Park, Radovan Somik, and Patrick Hersley, Niinimaa registered three assists in 10 games.
As the lockout ended, Niinimaa returned to play for the Islanders in the 2005-2006 season before being traded to Dallas halfway through the season. Niinimaa went to the Stars, along with a fifth round draft pick in the 2007 NHL Entry draft, as current Washington Capital John Erskine and a second round draft pick in the 2006 NHL Entry draft (who turned out to be Jesse Joensuu) were shipped to the Islanders.
[caption id="attachment_3238" align="aligncenter" width="194" caption="Thanks to Life.com"][/caption]
Playing in 22 regular season games and four playoff games, Niinimaa had two goals and five assists in what turned out to be his shortest stay with any NHL team.
During the 2006 preseason, Niinimaa was traded yet again. In exchange for Mike Ribeiro and a sixth round draft pick in 2008, Niinimaa went to the Montreal Canadiens along with a fifth round pick in the 2007 NHL Entry draft (pick turned out to be Andrew Conboy).
[caption id="attachment_3239" align="aligncenter" width="245" caption="Thanks to theryancokeexperience.wordpress.com"][/caption]
Niinimaa only played 41 games for the Canadiens before leaving for the Swiss-A league in the following season. Since Niinimaa only had three assists in those 41 games, the Canadiens were the only NHL team Niinimaa played for in which he had not scored a goal.
Playing with HC Davos of the Swiss-A league in the 2007-2008 season, along with Alexandre Daigle, Niinimaa's stat line had two astonishing numbers: assists and PIM. Niinimaa posted the most assists he had in four years with 28, but what may have been more surprising were his 127 PIM, hands down the most Niinimaa had in any season during his career.
Switching teams, but staying within the Swiss-A league, Niinimaa went to the SCL Tigers. Niinimaa only played in 20 games posting 18 points before leaving the team at the end of the season for HV71 Jonkoping.
[caption id="attachment_3240" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Thanks to Kuriren.nu"][/caption]
Helping HV71 Jonkoping become Swedish Champions, Niinimaa had three assists in 16 postseason games for the club.
For the 2010-2011 season, Niinimaa played for his ninth different team in the seven years as he joined HF Lulea. After posting 30 points in 48 regular season games, Niinimaa would go on to have a goal and five assists in 11 games.
Niinimaa, despite playing in over 700 NHL games, is considered a bust by many as his numbers slowly declined over the years. A rookie season that showed much promise for a young puck-moving defenseman has resulted in a player who hasn't seen the NHL since 2006. It's hard to use the excuse that Niinimaa is too old to be competitive in the NHL since Pronger and Timonen are currently on our blue line. Despite not playing for a lengthy time in Philly, Flyers' fans will forever remember him for his part in McCarty's Cup-winning goal and question what could have become of Niinimaa.
[caption id="attachment_3186" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Thanks to ForsytheandtheFlyers.blogspot.com"][/caption]
At the time, Bob Clarke's decision to send 24-year-old defenseman Dennis Seidenberg to Phoenix for the aging Petr Nedved was a questionable move. All the Flyers have left from their trade with the Coyotes on January 20, 2006 is minor leaguer Joonas Lehtivuori.
Seidenberg, at the moment, is helping the Bruins try to win their first Stanley Cup since 1970. So just how did the aftermath of this deal transpire?
"Nedved has always been a good scorer and a real good player and we think he'll solve some of our problems up front," Clarke told the Associated Press after the trade back in 2006. Nedved helped to an extent as he posted five goals and nine assists in 28 regular-season games for the Flyers in 2006 adding two more goals in Philly's six-game opening round loss to Buffalo.
In the following season, however, Nedved tallied only one goal in 21 games for the Flyers while splitting time between the NHL and the Phantoms before being picked up off waivers by Edmonton in July of 2007.
[caption id="attachment_3187" align="aligncenter" width="246" caption="Thanks to truecoyotelove.blogspot.com"][/caption]
While Philly fans were watching Nedved's career slowly drift over the cliffs, Phoenix fans started catching an early glimpse of the Seidenberg currently paired with Zdeno Chara in Boston. After playing in five games for his home country of Germany in the 2006 Winter Olympics, Seidenberg had a goal and 10 assists in 34 games for the Coyotes while playing strong defense.
Just before the midway point of the 2006-2007 season, Seidenberg was moved to the defending Stanley Cup Champions in Carolina. In need of a defenseman, the Hurricanes sent Kevyn Adams to the Coyotes in exchange for the slowly improving d-man.
"With some uncertainty concerning when our injured defenseman will be able to return, we needed to make this move now," said Carolina General Manager Jim Rutherford, "Dennis will be a good fit for us on defense."
Unfortunately for Rutherford, Seidenberg didn't play that great in his first 20 games for Carolina as he had a plus/minus rating of minus-12, his worst rating at any point in his career.
Despite the ending of the 2006-07 regular season, Seidenberg found himself able to recover in Carolina for the next two seasons.
Seidenberg, a defensive defenseman, had never registered a goalless year when playing more than 10 games in a season for a team. Although he improved his plus/minus by 18 to a plus-6 in the 47 games he played in 2007-2008, Seidenberg didn't score a single goal. Making up for his lack of production, Seidenberg set his NHL career high for assists with 15 and 81 blocked shots.
In the following season, Seidenberg was a crucial piece to a team labeled the 'Cardiac Canes'. Improving in almost every statistical category, Seidenberg set his personal NHL highs in games (70), goals (5), assists (25), points (30), and blocked shots (160).
A team featuring several former Flyers (Rod Brind'Amour, Joni Pitkanen, Michael Leighton, and Justin Williams), Seidenberg helped the Hurricanes grab the sixth-seed in the East to face the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
Playing in the playoffs for the first time since his Calder Cup run with the Phantoms back in 2005, Seidenberg played in 5 of the 7 games it took Carolina to beat New Jersey in the ECQF. Seidenberg had three assists in the series including the primary assist on Jussi Jokinen's buzzer-beater in Carolina's 4-3 in Game 4.
Facing the top-seeded Boston Bruins in the second round, Seidenberg helped the 'Canes pull off another unlikely victory. Beating the Bruins in seven games, Seidenberg had two assists in the series, including the secondary assist on Scott Walker's series-winning goal in the overtime of Game 7.
The miraculous postseason run for Carolina ended in the Eastern Conference Finals as they were swept by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Seidenberg scored his first NHL playoff goal in Game 2 of the series to give the Hurricanes an early 3-2 lead in the game.
After the season, Seidenberg left the Hurricanes to join their division rival in the Florida Panthers.
[caption id="attachment_3188" align="aligncenter" width="220" caption="Thanks to cbc.ca"][/caption]
"Dennis is a strong and physical defenseman who is hard to play against," Panthers' GM Randy Sexton told the Panthers' website, "he adds size and speed to our club and helps to solidify our blueline."
Even with such high praise from Sexton, Seidenberg couldn't finish out the season in a Panthers' uniform. After posting two goals and 21 assists in 62 games for Florida, and a power-play goal for Germany in the 2010 Winter Olympics, Seidenberg was shipped up to Boston with prospect Matthew Bartkowski in exchange for Byron Bitz and Craig Weller.
[caption id="attachment_3189" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Thanks to the Bostonherald.com"][/caption]
Seidenberg had two goals and seven assists in 17 games for Boston before an injury to his left wrist sidelined him for the playoffs. He finished the season first in the league with 215 blocked shots.
Returning to the Bruins for this past regular season, Seidenberg played a full slate with Boston. Playing in 81 games, Seidenberg scored seven goals and had 25 assists while blocking 174 shots. Taking part in Boston's top defensive unit, Seidenberg helped the Bruins clinch the Northeast Division.
In the first round of the 2011 playoffs, the Bruins faced their biggest rival in the Montreal Canadiens. With the help of a goal and two assists from Seidenberg, the Bruins edged out the Canadiens in a seven game series to face the Flyers in the following round.
Sweeping his former team, Seidenberg had three assists in the brief four-game series. Two of Seidenberg's three assists came in the Bruins' Game 1, 7-3 beating of the Orange and Black.
Moving on to the Eastern Conference Finals, Seidenberg and the Bruins faced the Tampa Bay Lightning. For the second time in three series, the Bruins needed all seven games to move on to the Stanley Cup Finals. Seidenberg had only two assists in the series, but they both came in the Bruins tight Game 2, 6-5 win to steal home ice advantage from Tampa.
Playing in his first Stanley Cup Finals, Seidenberg has yet to register a point in his first three games. However, true to his defensive style, Seidenberg has had nine blocked shots. In addition, Seidenberg also had a scrum with Ryan Kesler in Game 3.
Seidenberg has quietly improved his game over the years allowing him to become one of the more reliable defenseman on a team currently fighting for the Stanley Cup. Since his days in Philly, Seidenberg has seen a rise in his ice time/game, shot blocking ability, and physicality. Hopefully he'll be rewarded with something the Flyers haven't seen since 1975.
[caption id="attachment_3093" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Thanks to PhinallyPhilly.com"][/caption]
A player who will most likely be remembered for an infamous injury in the playoffs, Patrick Thoresen was a respectable 4th liner for the Flyers during the latter part of the 2007-2008 NHL season.
In his 35 games in a Flyers' uniform, Thoresen didn't register a single goal, but did post seven assists (two in the postseason). However, the success of Thoresen's game was measured more in defense and sweat rather than goals and assists. Since leaving the Flyers in the 2008 offseason, Thoresen has found his scoring touch in route to a Gagarin Cup.
Picked up off waivers from the Edmonton Oilers on February 22, 2008, Thoresen found his spot on the checking line with Jim Dowd and Sami Kapanen in Philly. The line, like most other checking lines, wasn't counted on for offense, but did an excellent job of shutting down other teams' top lines. Playing in 21 regular season games before the playoffs, Thoresen notched five assists before gearing up for his first taste of the NHL postseason. Unfortunately, his first game in the playoffs didn't end well.
Thanks to Jefflered
With the Flyers holding on to a 4-3 lead in the 3rd period of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in Washington, Danny Briere was sent to the box for high-sticking giving the Capitals a power play. Out on the penalty kill, Thoresen dropped down to block a Mike Green slap shot from the point. Thoresen blocked the shot, but the puck struck where no man should be hit with a 90 mph slapper.
Rolling on the ice in pain, the Capitals were essentially handed a two-man advantage scoring seconds after Thoresen's injury. Alex Ovechkin scored the game-winner later in the period to give the Caps a 1-0 lead in the series.
The original fear for Thoresen was that he had ruptured his testicle which would result in a possible surgery to remove it. Luckily for Thoresen, the injury wasn't this serious and he was back in the lineup for Game 3 of the series against the Caps. In fact, Thoresen got his revenge against Green and Washington by registering one of his two postseason assists on Kapanen's goal in the Flyers' 3-2 Game 7 overtime win.
As the Flyers fell to the Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals later in the 2008 postseason, Thoresen left to play in Europe after receiving a low contract offer.
Playing for Lugano, a club in the Swiss-A hockey league, Thoresen found the scoring touch that had eluded him in the City of Brotherly Love. Averaging more than a point per game, Thoresen tallied 22 goals and 41 assists in 48 games in the regular season for Lugano. Despite posting seven assists in the 2009 playoffs, Thoresen only found the back of the net once for Lugano as they made a first-round exit.
For the second time in two summers, Thoresen changed leagues. This time, Thoresen traveled from Lugano of Swiss-A to Ufa Salavat Yulayev of the KHL. Salavat's roster featured former NHLers Dmitry Kalinin, Oleg Tverdovsky, Alexander Radulov, Viktor Kozlov, and Ilya Zubov.
[caption id="attachment_3095" align="aligncenter" width="200" caption="Thanks to KHL.ru"][/caption]
Playing in 56 games for Ufa Salavat Yulayev, Thoresen posted 24 goals, the most he's scored in his professional career and the most he's scored since his QMJHL years. With the addition of 33 assists, Thoresen ranked 6th in the KHL with 57 regular season points (two ahead of Marcel Hossa) and 1st in the league with a plus/minus of +45.
During the 2009-2010 KHL regular season, Thoresen played alongside another former Flyer Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and future New York Ranger Mats Zuccarello. Norway didn't make it out of the round-robin portion of the tournament, but Thoresen still made his mark with five assists in four games.
[caption id="attachment_3094" align="aligncenter" width="200" caption="Thanks to goironpigs.com"][/caption]
Thoresen was a key piece to Salavat's championship run in the 2010 postseason, a run that was two wins short of a finals appearance. With the exception of former Nashville Predator Radulov, Thoresen was the team's point leader in the playoffs. In the opening round Salavat beat Yekaterinburg Avtomobilist 3-1 in a best of 5 series. Thoresen had a goal and two assists in Salavat's dominating 8-1 series clinching win.
After Yekaterinburg Avtomobilist, Salavat moved on to beat Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik in 6 games before facing Kazan AK Bars in the third round. Despite four assists from Thoresen within the series, Salavat fell in 6 games. Thoresen's playoff totals were five goals and nine assists in 15 games (didn't dress one game).
Unsatisfied with the playoff finish, Thoresen came back in the 2010-2011 season setting personal records at the professional level in goals and points. Although he played in only 54 games in 2010-2011 compared to his 56 in 2009-2010, Thoresen scored 29 goals and had 37 assists for 66 points. Considering Thoresen was second in the league to only Radulov for the regular season, and when one considers the additions of Erik Ersberg, Oleg Saprykin, and Robert Nilsson, things looked promising for Salavat in the 2011 playoffs.
In the first round of the playoffs, Thoresen had six assists, including two two-assist games, as Salavat swept Novosibirsk Sibir 4-0 to face Kazan AK Bars.
Thoresen only had two assists in the series against Kazan, but one of them was the primary assist on Radulov's game winning goal in Salavat's 1-0 win in Game 5 to capture the series 4-1.
With eight assists in nine games, Thoresen braced for a series against Magnitogorsk Metallurg for a chance to win the Eastern Conference. Seven games later, Thoresen, who scored two goals and had five assists in the series, found himself with a chance to win his first professional championship as Salavat won the series 4-3.
To win the Gagarin Cup, Thoresen would need to beat the winner of the Western Conference in Moscow Region Atlant, a team providing former NHLers in Andrei Zyuzin, Jan Bulis, and Fedor Fedorov. Thoresen only had three points in the series, two of which were assists, but he arguably had the most important goal in the set.
Late in Game 3, Salavat found themselves in a game tied at two. Already winning the first two games in the series, the next goal determined whether Salavat experienced a 3-0 stranglehold on the series or they gave Atlant some life by allowing them into a 2-1 series. With only 7:15 left in the game, Kalinin provided a slap shot from the point that Thoresen tipped home for the game-winning goal and to put his team one win away from winning the Gagarin Cup.
Salavat dropped Game 4, but won the Gagarin Cup in Game 5 by a score of 3-2. Thoresen finished the playoffs with 3 goals and tied for first in the league with 15 assists. His 18 points definitely helped Salavat win the Cup and earn his first professional championship.
Throughout the playoffs, Thoresen kept a goalie stick upon which he affixed a hockey puck for each win Salavat experienced in the 2011 postseason.
"I got this stick prepared especially for today," Thoresen told Andrei Lopata of KHL.ru as he held the stick holding 15 pucks, "I was just missing one, the most important puck. And we've got it! We're Champions!"
Hopefully the Flyers can reenact the second portion of their 2010 playoffs after dropping Game 3 tonight by a 5-1 count. They are now one game from elimination.
Zdeno Chara had two goals and David Krejci added three points while Tim Thomas made 37 saves as Boston has now out scored Philly 15-6 in the series. Andrej Meszaros had the only Flyers' goal on the night, but it meant very little as the Bruins already enjoyed a 4-0 lead.
Last game it was James van Riemsdyk, this game it was Chara. Just over 30 seconds into the game, Chara walked into a gliding puck in the slot to blast it home past Brian Boucher for a very early 1-0 lead for the Bruins.
As if that first blistering score wasn't enough to wake up the Flyers, maybe a goal 33 seconds later would do it. Krejci was the recipient of a nice between-the-legs pass from Milan Lucic behind the net. With a quick shot inside the right post, Krejci quickly gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead. A minute and three seconds into Game 3, the East's two seed found themselves in a big hole in a must-win game.
A Peter Laviolette timeout allowed his team to calm down slightly and his club was able to skate out the rest of the period to a draw. In fact, the Flyers headed into the second period with a man advantage thanks to a Patrice Bergeron hooking penalty.
Unfortunately, Philly couldn't capitalize on the man advantage. Adding on to that, the Flyers fought hard throughout the second period only to see their deficit increased to three.
After breaking up an offensive chance by Philly, Gregory Campbell set up Daniel Paille for an open wrist shot from the slot that got past Boucher to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead with 6:21 left in the second period.
The Bruins weren't done, however, as Nathan Horton scored 1:35 after Paille's marker to give the Bruins an insurmountable four-goal bulge late in the second period. Moving left to right across the circles, Horton faked a shot, then forced Boucher to open up his five-hole while trying to regain his footing. It was the exact location Horton put home his fifth goal of the playoffs.
Finished watching Boucher being roasted by Boston's offense, Laviolette put in Sergei Bobrovsky. The native of nearby Woonsocket, Rhode Island ended up with 16 saves on 20 shots.
Meszaros responded quickly after the goalie change to cut the Flyers' deficit to three and temporarily shut up the sarcastic Bruins' crowd.
The Bruins had chances late in the period, but the score remained 4-1 going into the final twenty minutes of regulation. Another goalie change and another deficit late in the game were something the Flyers, yet again, were going to need to overcome to prevent another 0-3 hole to the Bruins in the playoffs.
The third period didn't see any kind of fight from the Flyers as they only watched the Bruins' lead increase. Late in the third period, with the game pretty much decided, the Flyers handed the Bruins a 5-0n-3 opportunity. The inept Bruins' power play finally scored a goal in the 2011 playoffs.
Chara blasted home his second goal of the evening, another high blast which made Bobrovsky cringe, to make the score 5-1 and ultimately give the Bruins a commanding series lead heading into Game 4 on Friday back in Boston.
In a game they needed to win, the Flyers came out weak.
Two goals in the first 1:03 was all Boston needed to win tonight. The Flyers were able to overcome this deficit in last year's series against Boston, but Claude Julien's team has apparently learned their lesson and the Flyers look like they're out of gas. However, it's not over until it's over. If the Orange and Black come out and fight next game to scrap out a win, who knows what it might lead to?
Goaltending was once again the difference in tonight's game. The Flyers didn't provide too many great chances, but the fact the Bruins won with the two-goal lead they were handed early in the game proves that the most important player on a team during the playoffs is the goaltender.
We can only hope Paul Holmgren addresses this situation in the offseason; we can only hope the offseason doesn't come around until mid-June.
Notes: The Bruins are now 1-for-32 on the power play in the 2011 playoffs, and the Flyers are 7-for-46. The Flyers fell to 3-3 all-time in Game 3's against Boston in the playoffs. With his assist in the first, Bergeron ranks second among all players in the postseason with 10 assists, while Giroux is tops with 11. Chara's first period goal was his first in these playoffs and the Bruins' fastest opening goal in these playoffs. In his first action since Game 4 of the ECQF, Jeff Carter had 5 shots in 16:41 of ice time.