There will be a Game Seven!
Somehow, someway, the Philadelphia Flyers have battled back from a 3-0 series deficit to even up their Eastern Conference Semifinals series with the Boston Bruins this evening at the Wachovia Center. Tonight’s victory made things all-square between the Flyers and the Bruins and will send the series back to Boston for a seventh and decisive game. In a series that began with three straight victories from the Boston Bruins, the Flyers have shown tremendous character and desire to respond and bring this series all the way to the seventh game. From that point, it’s anyone’s guess as to what will transpire.
Tonight, however, a victory for the Flyers transpired at the Wachovia Center. Being in attendance, I can tell you it was as loud as I can remember in there tonight in comparison to recent years, and when Lauren Hart was joined on screen by Kate Smith in the singing of “God Bless America”, I thought the roof was going to blow off the building. Turns out, it almost did when early in the first period the score of the Montreal Canadiens-Pittsburgh Penguins Game Seven was flashed on screen and showed the Canadiens ahead by a score of 3-0. That sent the Wachovia Center into a frenzy, and as a result, made the adrenaline of the Flyers increase that much more on the ice. Fortunately, the home team came through. In a scramble in front that was started with some great work by Simon Gagne and Dan Carcillo, Mike Richards picked up a loose puck in front of the crease and buried it into the empty net to give the Flyers an early 1-0 lead, just seven minutes in. The score would stay that way through the remainder of the period, though it wasn’t necessarily indicative of who had the upper-hand in play on the ice.
Through the last five minutes or so of the first period, the Boston Bruins really took it to the Flyers. Give Boston credit: they showed a lot more intensity and desire to win than was visible in Game Five, and they certainly brought the physical facet of their game with them to Philadelphia. Still, the Flyers literally defined the “Bend, but don’t break” mentality, as Michael Leighton made some key saves in the second period, and the Flyers got an absolutely crucial powerplay goal from Danny Briere to make things 2-0 in favor of the home team with four minutes and forty seconds remaining in the second frame.
The third period featured quite the exhibition of up and down action, as both Tuukka Rask and Michael Leighton stood tall and kept their teams alive in the game. Boston had a serious advantage in board play tonight that, for whatever reason, did not exist in Game Five. They really did a good job of winning puck battles along the boards and working the disc back to their blue line. The problem was, of course, that the Flyers did an incredible job of blocking off shooting and passing lanes when the Bruins looked to create offense. Whether it was a forward getting in the way of a pass, or a defenseman sacrificing his body to block the shot, it certainly looked as if the Flyers were trying their best to not put too much pressure on Leighton to win the game. Speaking of winning the game, Ville Leino had a chance to seal the deal with about six minutes or so to go in the third period, when Boston disrupted a breakaway opportunity for the Flyers Finnish forward, and sent Leino to center ice for a penalty shot. Leino made a great move and had a strong backhander on his deke, but Rask was up to the task and kept the game alive.
With a minute left, the Bruins finally struck after Rask had been pulled in favor of the extra attacker. Milan Lucic banged home a rebound in front to get the B’s back within striking distance with exactly sixty seconds left on the clock. However, a last minute effort from Boston failed, and the Flyers were able to clear the zone and have the clock run out just in time to send both teams back to Boston for the all-important seventh game. The Flyers became just the sixth team all-time to force a Game Seven when trailing 3-0 in a series, and will look to become the third team ever in NHL history to complete the feat on Friday night.
For the last three games, it’s been all about the philosophy: One shift, one play, one period, one game at a time. Now, it’s just one game. It’s as simple as that. One game to either send the Flyers to their second Eastern Conference Finals in three years, or to send the Orange and Black packing, making their comeback just a simple memory in the past.
What’ll it be, guys?