Video courtesy of MrFlyerGuy
…May 14, 2010. I’ll never forget the day: I was at the viewing party at the Wells Fargo Center with 15,000 of my closest friends and it was quite a party when that final buzzer sounded.
Video courtesy of MrFlyerGuy
…May 14, 2010. I’ll never forget the day: I was at the viewing party at the Wells Fargo Center with 15,000 of my closest friends and it was quite a party when that final buzzer sounded.
Who could blame you right now if you’re doubting the Philadelphia Flyers?
Really, who could blame you? Who could say that your thought process was either “way off” or “discombobulated”? Who could tell you that this current series is by no means over?
Who could make you believe?
How about the Flyers themselves?
Remember back to game 82 of the long and grueling regular season that comes along with participation in the National Hockey League. The Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers squared off in a “Win and You’re In” game at the Wachovia Center. The Rangers scored first, and looked in control early. If your thought process involved the Flyers sinking into an abyss, and faltering at that point in time, who could’ve blamed you? However, the Flyers kept working. The Orange and Black proved to live up to their season mantra, for perhaps the first time all season, sustaining a “Relentless” attack against the Rangers and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. In the third period, when the hope was likely the dimmest for many Flyers fans, the Flyers shined light heavily back into the equation. Matt Carle roofed a rebound off his backhand and into the net to even the game at 1-1. The Flyers had always believed, and now the fans had reason to again. Still, a 1-1 draw ended up remaining on the scoreboard until the game headed into overtime. In an overtime filled with tension and anticipation, heart rates climbed when the only buzzer that sounded during the frame was that signaling a trip to a shootout.
A shootout; placing the entirety of your playoff hopes against arguably the best goaltender in the league today. The Rangers had Lundqvist, the Flyers had Woonsocket, Rhode Island native Brian Boucher. Who could’ve blamed the majority of the Flyer faithful for having their doubts? Danny Briere certainly couldn’t have. Yet he helped ease the suspense when he sent Lundqvist’s jockstrap somewhere onto I-76 on a deke as the first shooter to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead in the shootout. Still, why was there any reason to believe in Brian Boucher and his ability to stop at least two breakaways at that point to send the Flyers to the postseason? There wasn’t much of a reason at all, to be honest. But Boucher stood tall in his first attempt, a stop on try from Erik Christensen.
And then, when Claude Giroux scored in the third round to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead in the shootout (P.A. Parenteau had beaten Boucher in round two), there still couldn’t have been many who believed in Boosh to stop sniper Olli Jokinen and save the game and the season for Philadelphia. However, that’s just what he did, and they Flyers earned the trip to the postseason that had come so hard, but felt so rewarding. Brian Boucher believed the Flyers could do it, and so did his teammates.
Next up came a showdown in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the second-seeded New Jersey Devils. And after hanging on by a thread to win Game One, the Flyers were defeated late in Game Two, as New Jersey evened up the series. Who would blame you for doubting the Flyers then? The Devils had Ilya Kovalchuk and seemingly new life in a series they were favored to win. Who could’ve blamed the Flyers for folding and taking solace in the fact that they’d just been fortunate enough to make the playoffs in the first place? Anyone but the Flyers themselves, it seemed. Of course, the rest is Flyers history. Danny Carcillo was the overtime hero in Game Three to get the series back in Philadelphia’s favor. The Devils never won another game.
Then came a semi-final series with the Boston Bruins. The Flyers quickly fell into an 0-3 hole, and also fell behind 1-0 in Game Four. Why was there reason to believe that this Flyers team could come back? How could Michael Leighton, ice cold and coming off a high ankle sprain, fill in strongly in place of Brian Boucher, who went down with a pair of sprained knees in Game Five? How were the fans, and even the Flyers themselves, able treat an 0-3 deficit as if it were a 3-3 deadlock for four consecutive games? It would’ve been easy to keel over and die then, it really would’ve. Instead, the Flyers decided they’d rather make history. Simon Gagne decided he’d come back early from a broken toe and join them. The Orange and Black took four straight from the Black and Gold to join the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and 1975 New York Islanders as the only NHL teams to win a series after being down 0-3.
What if Ian didn’t believe in sacrifice? What if Broad Street didn’t fight back?
The Eastern Conference Finals were a whirlwind in themselves, with the Flyers seemingly coasting to wins in Games One and Two. But after the scene shifted to Montreal and the Habs blew the doors off the Flyers in the process en route to a 5-1 rout in Game Three, who would ever have expected the Flyers to come out and dominate in the fashion they did on their way to a 3-0 shutout and a 3-1 series lead in Game Four? Ian Laperriere and Jeff Carter did. And so did the teammates and coaches they returned to join in Game Four after missing the previous three games of the Conference Finals and the entire Semi Finals series with what had previously been thought to have been season ending injuries (Broken orbital bone and brain contusion, and a broken foot, respectively).
What if, when the series shifted to Philadelphia, Mike Richards took a chance to close the series and snatch a certain Prince of Wales at home for granted? What if he didn’t rekindle images of the determination of Bobby Clarke when he tossed Tomas Plekanec out of the way en route to setting up a Jeff Carter empty-netter to send the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final?
What if the Flyers, a team burdened with the expectations of bringing a Stanley Cup to Philadelphia, simply wrote this season off as “not being our year”? What if they faltered in the limelight of the Stanley Cup Final, and fell to the Chicago Blackhawks convincingly?
Far from it. The Flyers arguably could have a 2-0 lead in this series going into tomorrow night’s Game Three at Wachovia Center. Instead their down 0-2 to the Blackhawks, and face a must win situation in Game Three to keep their Stanley Cup hopes alive. Who would blame any Flyers fan right now for having his or her doubts? Most wouldn’t.
This Flyers team knows they could be up 2-0 in this series right now. The Blackhawks know they could be down 0-2 in this series. The Flyers know they let two winnable games slip away in Chicago, so who’s to say that they won’t win two winnable games here in Philadelphia? And if they win Game Three, how much of a confidence boost will it give this franchise and this city, which collectively haven’t seen a victory in a Stanley Cup Final game since 1987? If you doubt the Philadelphia Flyers’ ability to do the unthinkable now, then shame on you. If you will be at the Wachovia Center tomorrow night and intend on sitting on your hands in nervous anticipation, don’t go and make a fortune selling your tickets. There are so many Flyers fans right now that would die at the opportunity to be inside the Orange Crush of the Wachovia Center tomorrow night. I’ll be there. I’ll be loud. And anyone else in Orange better be right there beside me. Chicago’s strutted their stuff on home ice. They’ve brought the series to Philly needing two wins to the Flyers’ four to win the Cup.
I don’t give a crap. All I care about is tomorrow night and the Flyers getting back into this series. I care about that sea of Orange that will be so loud and boisterous, your television sets likely won’t do it justice because (as is the norm at the Wachovia Center in the playoffs) they’ll have to turn down crowd volume so you can hear the announcers. I care about Lauren Hart, and the great Kate Smith singing a certain song to make the roof shake on top of the Wachovia Center. I care about a strong first period – one that sets the tone and one that lets the Chicago Blackhawks know that there is absolutely no chance they are going to win a game in our building.
Most importantly, I care about a win.
The Flyers have been sporting orange tee-shirts in their dressing room this series that show a picture of the Stanley Cup and simply state: “Don’t Stop ‘Till You Get Enough”.
Let’s be real here – to the Flyers, with everything that’s happened to this team this year and all they’ve had to overcome both off and on the ice, there’s only one phrase that’s related to the one on their shirts that is even remotely justifiable:
“Don’t Stop ‘Till You Get the Cup”
Do I Believe?
You had better believe it.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Philadelphia Flyers are the 2010 Eastern Conference Champions!
I could write that four million times, and the phrase would honestly never get old. I was fortunate enough to be at the game last night and let me tell you: what a spectacle, what an adrenaline rush, what a game, and, most importantly, WHAT. A. TEAM.
The game didn’t start as it many probably would’ve liked: the Canadiens controlled play early on, and struck first blood on one of the rare shots these playoffs that Michael Leighton should’ve had, yet let slip by him. Brian Gionta did the trick, scoring only his second goal of the series just a minute into the game, as Scott Gomez fed him a beautiful pass in the slot, and Gionta buried a snapper through Leighton’s five-hole. The stands started to have an eerie feeling flow throw them: could the Habs pull off the unthinkable, again? This time to the Flyers? Thankfully, the man that wears the ‘C’ in the Orange and Black had other ideas.
I mentioned in the Boston series that Mike Richards had won me over this postseason. His guts, determination, and inspired play all while leading by example on a consistent basis suddenly had come out of no where, and they were helping to lead the Flyers to victory. These playoffs Mike Richards has won me over. Last night, he brought me to tears.
With the Flyers shorthanded on a marginal roughing penalty against Kimmo Timonen shortly after the Habs had made it 1-0, the Flyers entered an all-important penalty kill. Mike Richards, of course, was on the ice. Early on in the PK, he made a statement, as the puck was passed back to Marc-Andre Bergeron at the point in the Flyers’ zone, and Richards just absolutely leveled him, sending him five feet in the air backwards, setting up a three-on-one the other way. A Braydon Coburn slapper was eventually stifled by Jaroslav Halak, but the Flyers captain was not giving up. Later in the penalty kill, a loose puck made it’s way to center ice, and Richards was about to race away on a breakaway. Roman Hamrlik was giving chase, and, suddenly Halak was as well. Hamrlik and Halak collided at the top of the circles, squibbing the puck free behind the two of them where Richards lay. He got himself up quickly, picked up the puck, and buried it right into the back of the net to even up the score and send the Wachovia Center into a raucous frenzy.
The first period would end 1-1, but it was certainly the Flyers that had taken over play after Richards goal, despite being outshot 9-6. Entering the second, the Flyers knew they needed to establish themselves in the Montreal zone early, and that they did. Three minutes into the frame, Matt Carle found Arron Asham wide open in front of Halak. Asham made a quick backhand to forehand deke and roofed it over Halak, to give the Flyers the all-important 2-1 lead. Just a minute and a half later, a beautiful tick-tack-toe between Kimmo Timonen, Mike Richards, and Jeff Carter resulted in Carter burying a shot just in front of the crease off a pass behind the net from Richards to put the Flyers in front 3-1. While many in the Wachovia Center felt the Flyers had this one in the bag with the way the rest of the second period went, everyone knew in the back of their minds that nothing was going to come easy after everything this team had been through. The Flyers dominated the second period for the second game in a row, outshooting Montreal 12-6.
In the third, the thoughts began to creep in. “20 minutes from a trip to the Final” “All they’ve worked for has come down to this” “Please, o please, dear God, don’t blow it” Fortunately for the Flyers, lady luck was on their side, as the Orange and Black survived a frantic early push by Montreal to try to make the score 3-2. Eventually, with 13 minutes left, the Habs would make it a 3-2 game, and send an uneasy feeling through the Wachovia Center. Still, the Flyers held tough and Leighton was exceptional in goal. With about a minute and a half left, the Habs pulled Halak in an attempt to save their season and tie the game.
Mike Richards would have none of it.
The Flyers’ captain brought back images of Bobby Clarke with his determination to race down a loose puck heading towards the Montreal goal. He would beat Tomas Plekanec, who had about three strides on him to start, to the disc, and drop it back for Jeff Carter to net his second of the game through the legs of the makeshift goaltender, Josh Gorges. The Wachovia Center went nuts. The Flyers bench celebrated and hugged. Michael Leighton exulted by throwing his arms up in the air.
The Philadelphia Flyers – our Philadelphia Flyers – are 2010 Eastern Conference Champions. How sweet it is!
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.
History HAS been made!
The Philadelphia Flyers became only the third team in the history of the National Hockey League and only the fourth team in all of professional sports history to overcome a daunting 0-3 deficit in their best of seven series against the Boston Bruins to come all the way back and claim victory. The craziest part about the whole thing? Perhaps the fact that the seventh game was about as scary a microcosm of the entire series as there could possibly have been.
In a series that the Bruins won the first three games, the B’s also scored the first three goals of Game Seven. In a series that the Flyers had won the last three games to pull even, the Orange and Black responded to score the next three goals of the game and even up the score. Then, in completing both the historic comeback in the series, and even in the game itself, the Flyers were able to score the fourth and final goal to make the game 4-3, and took the series by the same count.
Of course, it wasn’t all good for the Flyers early on in this one. In fact, the Orange and Black came out extremely flat, looking like they were lost on the ice, and – dare I say it – playing uninspired hockey for the first fourteen minutes or so in this one. The hometown Bruins, on the other hand, stormed out of the gate, and attacked the Flyers like a team that was determined not to end up on the wrong side of history at the game’s end. They got some help from some untimely penalties from the visitors. Scott Hartnell got things started the wrong way for the Flyers, when he was whistled for a blatant high-stick on Bruins’ defenseman Matt Hunwick. The Bruins, who much like the Flyers, have been nursing an ice-cold power play this series, got things going quickly. Michael Ryder got himself off what had been a personal scoring schnide to give the B’s the 1-0 lead just five and half minutes into the game. The Bruins kept coming at the Flyers, and kept coming hard, and eventually their hard work paid off. Danny Briere took a very undisciplined roughing penalty just two minutes later, putting the blood-thirsty Bruins back on the powerplay.
Much like their first opportunity, this one paid off. Dennis Wideman brought the puck into the zone on an incredible individual rush, and blew by Matt Carle, before centering the puck to the front. Braydon Coburn did a horrendous job of cutting off the middle lane while his defensive partner, Carle, was in the corner with Wideman, and the puck went right to the stick of Milan Lucic, who slammed home the shot for the slam-dunk and to give Boston a 2-0 lead. The Flyers stayed out of the box for the most part after the two early power play goals, but that didn’t stop the Bruins’ early on-slaught. Just five minutes after it became 2-0 Boston, Lucic picked up the puck in his own end off a Flyers turnover and raced down the length of the ice on a two-on-one, before ripping a beautiful wrister over Michael Leighton’s glove hand to give the Bruins a seemingly insurmountable 3-0 lead. That was when the timeout of the season was called by Peter Laviolette.
It’s situations like the one the Flyers found themselves in last night when it shows just how important it is for a team to 1)trust their coach when he speaks to them and 2)trust their system in all situations. The Flyers claim that Laviolette simply told them to get one goal before the period ended to make things less of a burden moving forward. Whatever he said in that huddle, it made the Flyers a more confident team, and the better team in the game from that point on. With the score still 3-0, James van Riemsdyk picked up a loose puck in front of the Boston goal on a rare defensive breakdown by the Bruins, and somehow floated a weak wrister under the pad of Tuukka Rask and into the back of the net. For all the criticism I give JVR, I will admit that tonight he was one of the few players that showed up for the first period, and he most certainly came through tonight. The goal that Laviolette asked for had become reality, and the Flyers now were slowly creeping their way back into the game. The score stayed at 3-1 as the two teams entered the first intermission, and, as I said to my friends I was watching the game with at the Wachovia Center, the first five minutes of the second period would tell us all we’d need to know about this team.
Fortunately, we only learned positives. The Flyers came out a completely different team in the second period, one that looked like they believed they could crack the vaunted Bruins defense, and that they could ultimately come back and win this hockey game. Scott Hartnell redeemed himself for a bad first period penalty by picking up a rebound in front after some hard work around the net by Danny Briere and Ville Leino to make the score 3-2 and send some very negative vibes through the now silent TD Banknorth Garden. The Garden, which once was rocking with excitement, now was filled with nervous energy. The Bruins clearly were beginning to second guess themselves, and now it was up to the Flyers to pounce on them. Cue the magnificent Danny Briere. With a little less than eleven minutes left in the second period, Briere raced into the Bruins zone, blew by the defensive corps for Boston, and performed a wraparound that hit defenseman Dennis Wideman in the shoulder, and re-directed into the back of the net past Tuukka Rask. It certainly was a fluke goal, but it didn’t come without some incredibly hard work from Briere. Now, the game was knotted up at 3, and the Flyers were the team that was buzzing, while the Bruins were back on their heels. The second period ended with a 3-3 score.
The Flyers and Bruins came into the third each realizing that it could be their final twenty minutes of the season. The Bruins came out strong, re-establishing their vicious forecheck from the first period, and made sure that the Flyers would have a tough time even getting it out of their own zone. However, to the Flyers’ credit, they bent but did not break as the team was able to some how with stand the Boston pressure, and start to make their way into the Bruins’ zone. The Flyers started to buzz around Rask again and make everyone in Black and Gold begin to panic, as now the thought of collapse was branded firmly into their minds. Fortunately, it was a combination of the Flyers hard work, and a severely bad mental lapse by the Bruins that led to the difference maker last night. Marc Savard was coming to the bench for a line-change, when he turned around, and went back into the play. Not realizing this, Vladimir Sobotka hopped over the boards and onto the ice, making there be six men on the ice in Bruins uniforms. Milan Lucic tried to get into the Bruins bench in a hurry, as he realized the in-ice predicament, but it was too late. The Bruins had been whistled for Too Many Men on the Ice with just eight minutes and fifty seconds left in the third period. Now, it was up to the Flyers’ powerplay that had been so stagnant it was almost preferential for them to play 5 on 5, to come through.
Ladies and gentlemen, Simon Gagne.
The Flyers winger, banged up foot and all, had the puck come to him just below the circles with less than thirty seconds remaining on the power play, and sent the puck over Rask’s shoulder and into the back of the net, to complete a monumental comeback in the game, and make the crowd at the Garden fall completely silent. In a frenzy of a final seven minutes, the Flyers held tough. Michael Leighton made some key stops after falling on his face in the first period, and the Flyers, as a team, showed a final dose of resiliency that capped off an unbelievable effort in this comeback. A last second ditch effort by the Bruins with Rask pulled was unable to even the game and sent the Flyers on a date with history and into the Eastern Conference Finals where they will have home ice advantage against the Montreal Canadiens. It will 7 vs. 8 in the East, and 1 (San Jose) vs. 2 (Chicago) in the West.
Ladies and Gentlemen, believe it: The Philadelphia Flyers have made history. On May 14th, 2010, history in the National Hockey League and in professional sports in general, was made.
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?
The task was simple for the Philadelphia Flyers in Game Five of their Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the Boston Bruins: win, and they would live to see another day.
Well, the heart of the Orange and Black still pumps on.
The Flyers rode a four goal avalanche at the hands of the Bruins this evening in Beantown to make their best of seven series against the Boston Bruins that much more interesting, now making the games totals at three to two in favor of Boston. Just Friday night, the series was convincingly three to zero. However, a Simon Gagne overtime winner in Game Four, followed up by an offensive explosion in Game Five now means that the Flyers have a little bit more than a bark in this series, and are slowly trending towards a bite as the two teams shift back to Philadelphia for what should an incredible sixth game.
The Orange and Black got things going tonight at TD Banknorth Garden as they silenced what was a raucous crowd in Boston just under seven minutes into the contest. Chris Pronger let fly a slapshot from the top of the circle, and while Tuukka Rask made the initial save, the rebound fluttered into the front of the crease and right onto Ville Leino’s stick, who buried his opportunity to make the score 1-0 in favor of the visitors. The goal by Leino proved a sign of good things to come from the Finnish forward, who is now going to be counted upon more than ever to pick up the slack of his supporting cast peers. Although the first period ended with a score of 1-0 in the Flyers’ favor, it was easy to notice that it was the visitors, and not the hometown Bruins, who were carrying the play early on.
That trend continued into the second period, when Scott Hartnell finally got himself off the schnide and scored what may have been his first goal in a century, but certainly his first of the playoffs, to make the score firmly 2-0 in favor of Philadelphia, and suck most of the remaining energy completely out of the TD Banknorth Garden. However, it’s easy to build a two-goal lead, but it’s even easier to have that lead slip away, especially on the road. The Flyers made sure that wasn’t the case tonight. Simon Gagne buried a power play goal – the Flyers only tally with the extra man in nine opportunities, yeesh – to put the Orange and Black up 3-0 and basically set the tone and the mindset that there certainly would be a Game Six between these two teams.
The second period was not all perfect for the Flyers, however. Brian Boucher was the recipient of a freak accident in which his teammate Ryan Parent fell on top of him, causing Boosh to be positioned in a severely awkward angle, and resulting in an injury. As of now, it appears it’s a sprained MCL, but either way, Boucher is more than likely done for the remainder of this round. Fortunately for the Flyers, as I mentioned in my game preview, Michael Leighton returned from injury tonight and was on the bench as the Flyers’ back-up. The man who earlier this year saved the Flyers season now has the opportunity to do it again, and proved himself capable in his first test, replacing the wounded Boucher midway through the second period and stopping all 14 shots he faced from that point forward.
Late into the second period and into the third, the Bruins got rather frustrated and started taking some stupid penalties. Steve Begin leveled Claude Giroux from behind and left the Flyers sniper hurt on the ice, only to be assessed a two-minute minor penalty. I’d be appalled if the NHL didn’t look more into the situation tomorrow and possibly even suspend Begin for Game Five. It was an obvious intent to injure, and may be “rewarded” with a sit-down from the league. Chris Pronger also deliberately had his legs taken out by Blake Wheeler, and Vladimir Sobotka looked like a chicken running around with his head cut off on the ice (Scott Hartnell most of the time in a Flyers uniform) tonight as opposed to a player playing with a purpose. A third period break away goal by Simon Gagne made things 4-0 in favor of the Flyers, emptied out the TD Banknorth Garden, and sent the two teams to Philadelphia to play an ultra-pivotal Game Six. It’s Michael Leighton’s show the rest of the way, but if the Flyers play the way they did tonight in the defensive zone the rest of the way, than they should have a chance in Game Six and (possibly) beyond from here on out.
To the Wachovia Center we go, can’t wait to see how crazy it’s going to be inside there!
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