The Philadelphia Flyers became only the fourth team in professional sports history to overcome a 0-3 deficit in a best of seven series and win it last night in Boston, joining the likes of the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, the 1975 New York Islanders, and the 2004 Boston Red Sox. The series was a tale of two halves: in the first three games, the Bruins came out on top. They weren’t necessarily a better team, but they still were a team that was making things happen when they needed to, while the Flyers simply weren’t dictating the play enough. Then, of course, something happened along the way and the Flyers turned the tides, taking the final four games of the series to complete the monumental comeback. Just like we did after the end of round one, we’ll take a look at the same points in this post that shaped the Flyers’ second round series against the Boston Bruins. We will break it down into four major points: 1)Series MVP, 2)Series Turning-Point, 3)Why the Flyers won, 4)What Needs to Change in Round 3.
1) SERIES MVP: Simon Gagne, Left Wing.
What can you say about Gagne? The guy gave his heart, soul, and body to push the Flyers into the next round, and has earned my Series MVP honor despite only playing in four of the seven possible games. After returning in Game Four from a foot injury he sustained after blocking a shot in Round One, Gagne led the Flyers’ offensive charge in a big way in Round number Two. In four games, Gagne had five points (4 G, 1 A) and was the main reason why the Flyers even had a breath in this series in the first place. He scored some gigantic goals: the OT winner in Game Four, and the series clincher in Game Seven, and logged a gutsy amount of ice time for basically playing on a foot and a half. Simon lead by example in Round Two and for that, he is my choice for Series MVP.
2) SERIES TURNING POINT: Mike Richards drops David Krejci in Game Three, Krejci dislocates his wrist.
Even though the Bruins came back to win Game Three and at that time take a commanding 3-0 series lead, David Krejci’s injury would be felt severely for the Bruins throughout the rest of the series. When it happened, I was quick to say that it was a gigantic loss for Boston and that it would hurt them the longer this series extended. Turns out, I was right. It all happened in the first period of Game Three, when Krejci was coming up the middle of the ice with the puck when he was met by the freight-train of Mike Richards. The Flyers captain leveled Krejci so hard that he dislocated the centerman’s wrist, rendering him out for the remainder of the series. From that point forward, the void of Krejci’s offensive ability was clearly visible and even more so unfulfilled by the Bruins. They failed to generate any real kind of offense, and after scoring four times in Game Four without Krejci, only mustered four goals in the final three games without their offensively gifted centerman. Many will say that Gagne’s return sparked the Flyers’ comeback, but if Krejci was still in the line-up I believe that a Gagne return would’ve been for naught.
3) WHY THE FLYERS WON: Heart and Resiliency.
The two terms are, quite frankly, way overstated in the sports world today, but that won’t hold me back from giving this Flyers team those two adjectives to their name. It’s one thing to complete a comeback, but the way the Flyers did it in this series is simply remarkable. They were down 0-3. In Game Four, with their season on the line, they give up a game-tying goal with 38 seconds left in the game to send the contest into OT, where they would – thankfully – win it. They had to then play two of their final three games in Boston’s TD Banknorth Garden, a place that, at the time, Boston hadn’t lost a game in this postseason (5-0) and a city that the Flyers hadn’t won a playoff game in since 1975-’76. Still, the Orange and Black blanked the Bruins 4-0 in Game Five, responded to the Bruins charge in Philadelphia and held off the B’s 2-1, and finally took care of business last night, overcoming a 3-0 lead for Boston in the game to win it 4-3. Truly remarkable, and, quite frankly, words don’t do it justice. Except for Heart and Resiliency. Those kind of work.
4) WHAT NEEDS TO CHANGE IN ROUND THREE: The Mental Lapses.
Far too often this series, it seemed like Boston would suddenly start buzzing in the Flyers’ end. They would do so with a purpose, and quite often they would do so without any warning. It was usually off a Flyers miscue: a bad pass, too much hesitation with the puck, or looking to take the body instead of playing the black disc. While it’s certainly hard not to cave into the immense amount of pressure that surrounds both the Flyers and their respective opponent at this juncture of the playoffs, it’s also imperative to not let it be a deciding factor in games. The Flyers limited their mental lapses down the stretch in this series, but the lapses were also in high occurrence during the beginning of this series, and were a big reason the Flyers fell down 0-3 in the first place.