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That’s it. There will be no comeback this year and there will be no more hockey in Philadelphia this year.
There isn’t much to say here, as the Flyers were once again unable to generate much, if any, offense. They had more energy than they did in Game 3, but only slightly more. They had better goaltending than they did in Game 3, but only slightly better. In the end, they came up far short once again.
To start the third, the Flyers lost a faceoff and saw the puck squirt out to Johnny Boychuk. He slapped one past Sergei Bobrovsky, high on the glove side to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead. It was all they would need as the Flyers would put up barely a whimper.
There will be plenty to say later, but in a season with such high expectations, a 4-7 playoff record cannot be seen as anything other than a disaster.
Another less than impressive period of hockey for the Flyers, but this time, their Captain stepped up and made something happen. Mike Richards stole the puck, charged up ice on a two-on-one and fed Kris Versteeg to go in all along on Tim Thomas. Versteeg went backhand and lifted the puck just over Thomas’ pad.
The Flyers squandered another power play that period, while giving the Bruins one themselves. Dan Carcillo went down to block a shot – taking it off his foot – but got up and cross-checked a Bruin without the puck. He then limped down the tunnel. With only 24 seconds left, Danny Briere took a holding penalty as he tried to get back on a 2-on-1.
Shots were even at 7 that period, but the Bruins effectively shut the Flyers down. Neither Scott Hartnell nor Ville Leino have a shot on goal yet, which is just not good enough. On defense, Braydon Coburn continues to have a fantastic game, getting physically involved and laying out to block shots.
Sergei Bobrovsky has both played well and benefited from good luck. He made a great stop on Rich Peverley, but as he lay prone and out of position, Peverley got two whacks at an open net… and hit the outside. The Bruins have effectively screened Bobrovsky to the point where he couldn’t see the shot, and the shot has gone wide. The Bruins have missed the net 12 times already this game, many where Bobrovsky either didn’t see it our couldn’t stop it.
But the storyline so far has been a mediocre game where neither team is playing particularly well. Like the second period, the third will start with one team on the man advantage. This time, the Bruins will have 1:36 to start with the man advantage.
In a game they must win, the Flyers once again find themselves trailing at the end of one period. A Milan Lucic power play goal twelve minutes into the game put the Bruins on top, but the Flyers will have 1:52 of power play time to start the second.
While the team is playing with more energy than they did in Game Three, the team still does not look good. They are getting outshot 13-6, they failed to convert on an early power play, and they’ve given the Bruins three power plays already. Undisciplined, uninspired, play plagued the first twenty minutes of tonight’s game.
On the power play goal, Braydon Coburn got a little too aggressive in chasing the puck carrier, leaving Nathan Horton alone below the goal line, and left Kimmo Timonen alone, spun around, to try and defend the two-on-one below the faceoff circle. Sergei Bobrovsky had no chance on the goal.
Otherwise, Coburn and Timonen have played quite well, with each receiving a team-high 9+ minutes of ice time. Near the end of the period, after Chara and Scott Hartnell started jousting in front, Coburn even stepped up and challenged Chara physically. Impressive from Coburn.
Entering the second, the Flyers will need to play a lot better if they want to win the game. Luckily, they’ll start with the man advantage.
Sergei Bobrovsky started the first game of the NHL playoffs for the Flyers and actually looked quite good. Then, in the first period of his second start, he gave up three goals and that was that. The rookie was pulled in favor of Brian Boucher, but that certainly wasn’t the end of the Flyers’ carousel.
Bobrovsky wasn’t even dressed after that as Peter Laviolette opted to use Michael Leighton as his backup. Boucher played well, then struggled, which made way for Leighton to first play in relief, then start. Leighton then predictably struggled, which paved the way for Boucher’s return. Then Leighton supposedly went AWOL from the team which meant Bobrovsky returned as the backup. Then Boucher struggled, Bob came on in relief and low and behold we’re back where we started.
Sergei Bobrovsky gets the call in net for game four against the Bruins and Flyers try to stave off elimination and prevent the sweep.
“Bob will start in net for us tonight,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “Brian came in and played really well for us, and came in and pinch hit for Bob early on and played really well for us. But we find ourselves down three here in Boston, and Bob came off the bench a couple times and looked good.”
Of course, the Flyers were in a very similar situation last year facing a 3-0 series deficit against the Bruins and having used a couple different goalies. That time they pulled on an historic comeback to win the series. History would be against them doing it again, but Laviolette says the team’s focus is on just this one game.
“You listen around, everybody has written us off completely already. Our team has won a lot of hockey games, I don’t think it’s unimaginable for us to beat the Boston Bruins in one game. So that’s our objective, we just keep it simple. We have one game to play and we need to win it. We have a lot of confidence in our group that we can do it.”
We’ll find out what happens tonight at 8pm as the teams face off at Boston Garden in game four.
In what had to have been considered a must-win, the Flyers came out flat and were never even in contention to win tonight's game. As a result, the Flyers are now in the same position they were in last year - down three games to none to Boston. But this isn't last year.
After only sixty-three seconds, the Flyers found themselves down 2-0 and without a timeout the rest of the game. Two defensive breakdowns - first by Kris Versteeg, then by Andrej Meszaros - put the Flyers in a quick hole they would not be able to climb out of. During the timeout, Peter Laviolette talked with Brian Boucher at the end of the bench while Craig Berube talked to the rest of the team.
In the second period, Danny Syvret joined a 3-on-2 rush and passed up an open shot to try and send the puck through the slot. It was picked off, and the Bruins scored on the resulting odd-man rush. Of the first three goals, none were the fault of Boucher. The fourth, however, was completely on him and it resulted in him getting pulled. And that means there will be people talking about the poor Flyers' goaltending for a long time.
Once Sergei Bobrovsky came on in relief, however, the team in front of did not play any better. The Bruins only took eight shots on him, but they did ring another four off the post. Unlike in Game Two, the Flyers were not the better team tonight. Tim Thomas didn't steal the game, the Flyers just didn't show up.
A Few Notes:
Another pitiful twenty minutes are in the books, and the Flyers now trail 4-1. Brian Boucher has been pulled from the game in favor of Sergei Bobrovsky, but the first three goals were not his fault. The fourth one, however, was all on him.
After not generating much at all for the first half of the second, Danny Syvret pinched into the offensive zone on a 4-on-3 and found himself with an opportunity to shoot from the faceoff dot. He decided to pass across the slot, which was a bad idea. Boston intercepted and went the other way on a 3-on-2, which would eventually be buried by Daniel Paille.
A little more than ninety seconds later, Nathan Horton would go in on Kimmo Timonen one-on-one, and Timonen would force him wide. Boucher overplayed it, dropping into the butterfly too early and having to go right to left. As he tried to move, Horton slid the puck through his five hole for the demoralizing 4-0 lead. After that Sergei Bobrovsky came on in relief.
The Flyers did finally get on the board when Andrej Meszaros roofed a feed from Darroll Powe above Tim Thomas’ shoulder, cutting the lead to 4-1. There was little celebration, however, as the Flyers have a long way to go. It isn’t over, but it doesn’t look good.
Zdeno Chara scored 30 seconds into the game, and David Krejci scored 33 seconds later, forcing Peter Laviolette to call his only time out just over a minute into the first period. On the first play, Kris Versteeg abandoned his man, leaving four Flyers below the crease, allowing Chara a wide-open slap shot which he roofed over Brian Boucher’s glove.
On the next shift, Krejci beat Andrej Meszaros off the wall and into the slot, and received a pass from Milan Lucic that he put past Brian Boucher. That would be two defensive breakdowns in just over a minute, and the Bruins made the Flyers pay.
On the ensuing timeout, Peter Laviolette did something unorthodox: He had Assistant Coach Craig Berube talk to his team while Laviolette spoke with Boucher at the end of the bench. One can only speculate what Laviolette said, but one has to believe he told Boucher to calm down, his team needs him, and he’ll stay in the game.
The rest of the period was evenly matched as the Bruins protected their lead, stifling the Flyers’ offense. The Flyers had the only power play in the period, but couldn’t even register a shot. In all, it was a miserable start to the game for the Flyers. Still 40 minutes left though.
UPDATE at 12:45 p.m: GM Paul Holmgren confirms that Carter will be a game-time decision, his status upgraded from day-to-day. There were no line rushes at practice, so it is unclear who is in and who is out, but speculation is that Carter will dress as a power-play specialist, removing Jody Shelley from the lineup.
Anthony SanFilippo reported that injured Flyers forward Jeff Carter was skating with the team for the first time since he was hurt in the Buffalo series. Carter has been battling a knee sprain, but the Flyers haven’t been incredibly forthcoming about how serious it was.
If Carter is back skating with the team, you can bet there’s a decent chance he’s going to try and get himself into the lineup tonight, especially with the team down 2-0.
David Krejci scored 14:01 into overtime to give the Bruins a 3-2 win and a 2-0 series lead. The play had to be reviewed as the call on the ice was no goal, but it didn't take long to see the puck clearly went in.
It was a disappointing end as the puck came in on Brian Boucher, who passed to Braydon Coburn. To start the breakout, Coburn threw the puck behind the net to Kimmo Timonen, and Danny Briere circled down and up the ice preparing to go back on the attack. But Timonen missed the pass and Briere's man continued on the forecheck. Nathan Horton collected the puck along the boards and fired a pass to Krejci, who roofed it over Brian Boucher's shoulder.
The overtime period was largely dominated by the Flyers, though there was a good bit of back and forth play. The Flyers recorded 10 shots on goal in overtime alone, and 54 total for the game. But Tim Thomas stopped the last 46 shots he faced, many of them spectacular.
It was a demoralizing loss, as the Flyers recorded more than enough quality scoring chances but just couldn't put them past Thomas. They had multiple odd-man rushes, multiple mini-breakaways, and more than a couple posts. But one puck that bounces over Timonen's stick puts them in a difficult hole.
Another scoreless frame means bonus hockey. Despite the best efforts of James van Riemsdyk, the score remains tied. van Riemsdyk now leads all forwards with over 22 minutes of ice time and has recorded 7 shots.
Perhaps most impressive, van Riemsdyk has dominated this game despite spending over half of his ice time against the Bruins’ top line of Krejci, Horton, and Lucic. With how strong he has played this game, he could easily have four or five goals already. He truly has been that impressive.
Through 60 minutes though, the second star is probably Tim Thomas. He has stopped 42 out of 44 shots, including 22 in the third period alone. His save on Nikolay Zherdev may have been his nicest, or maybe it was his stop on a Danny Briere breakway. Or maybe even his stop on James van Riemsdyk’s breakway. Really, it could be any of those.
Obviously, the Flyers want to score a goal as soon as possible in overtime, but they have another reason for why they do: their top-four defensemen have all played over 23 minutes. Andrej Meszaros leads them all with 26:56, which isn’t too bad. The Flyers will have to watch for fatigue on their blueline, especially with the far change in overtime. They don’t want to get stuck like Washington did last night, making a slow change that results in an odd-man rush the other way.
Overtime playoff hockey. It doesn’t get much better than this. Grab some coffee and hope you don’t need it.
The Bruins and Flyers played to a scoreless second, but that doesn’t mean it was boring. James van Riemsdyk continues to prove he is the Flyers’ best player this post-season, leading the team in shots while being third in ice time.
He’s had numerous chances, including sending one just wide after creating a mini-breakway, batting a puck out of mid-air through the crease, and setting up Nikolay Zherdev for an open net that Tim Thomas was able to sprawl out to stop. It isn’t even a question who was the Flyers’ best skater.
The biggest news, however, was Brian Boucher leaving the game 11:01 into the second period. He took a Johnny Boychuk shot in the glove, but the puck went all the way through into Boucher’s hand. He left the ice and the cameras caught him showing his hand to the trainers, so take from the image what you may. Johan Backlund has come down from the press box to dress as the emergency backup if needed.
In Boucher’s place, Sergei Bobrovsky has come in and made six saves, almost all of them huge. Simply put, this game is tied at two because of Sergei Bobrovsky. So all that talk about him not being mentally able to play in the playoffs and him not being able to come in off the bench, well it ends now.
The worst news from the period? Through 40 minutes, the Flyers are getting outshot 29-22, and 24-15 at even-strength. But in terms of puck possession, the Flyers are getting severely out-played, giving up 26 more shot attempts than they’ve taken.
Twenty minutes or more left.
After taking a wrist shot to the glove in the middle of the second, Bian Boucher immediately favored the hand as if it caught him in a bad spot. After the Flyers went down to the other end, Boucher got a whistle and left the game at 11:01 of the second period.
Sergei Bobrovsky replaced him, the second time in two games Bobrovsky has come off the bench. It is also the fifth time in nine games the Flyers’ backup goalie has played this postseason.
On his way off the ice, Brian Boucher was caught by cameras showing his hand to the trainers. Interpret that as you will, but it doesn't look like he'll return. Johan Backlund went from sitting in the press box to dressed in the Flyers locker room, prepared to be the backup goalie on the bench for the rest of the game if Boucher cannot go.
More when word arrives.
The Flyers jumped out of the gate tonight. James van Riemsdyk scored the game’s first goal a mere 29 seconds into the game. Nine minutes later, van Riemsdyk would score again to give the Flyers a two-goal lead.
But more defensive failures led to the Bruins first goal of the game. Michael Ryder was able to skate past Andrej Meszaros, Sean O`Donnell, and Mike Richards to set up right in front of Boucher, getting a couple whacks at the puck before Chris Kelly beat James van Riemsdyk to the slot to put the rebound past Brian Boucher.
Boston tied the game less than 90 seconds later on a goal that Boucher would want to have back. But the Flyers are going to have to play better in front of him again. That might be more difficult as the game goes on as Peter Laviolette is relying heavily on his top-4 defensemen – as expected. The Flyers’ 3rd pairing got less than 3 minutes of ice time in that period, putting the top-4 on pace for between 22 and 27 minutes.
The good news is that Mike Richards matched up against the Bruins’ top line, but the bad news is he spent less than half is time against them. The good news is that Danny Briere has gotten away from the Bruins’ top line, but the bad news is that they are still being smothered by Zdeno Chara.
Bad news right before game time: Chris Pronger will not play tonight. In his place, Danny Syvret will dress. Nobody really knows what is wrong with Pronger, as earlier today GM Paul Holmgren said he was okay. At this point, any reasons for his absence would be speculation.
While it does not make up for Pronger’s absence, the good news is that Zac Rinaldo will not play as Jody Shelley returns to the lineup. It’s a strange day when one is happy to see Shelley play in the playoffs, but when he comes in for Rinaldo, it is good news.
These moves make Peter Laviolette’s matchups even more important, as he will have to rely on his top-4 defensemen while hiding his bottom two. Puck is about to drop, so get ready.
It has been a long two days. Since being embarrassed in Game One, the Flyers took yesterday off to watch video. Presumably, they were there for awhile.
A lot went wrong in Game One, but as Chris Pronger said, “a loss is a loss.” It’s one game. As they prepare for Game Two, they have a lot of work to do, but they are still only down one game. Tonight, they can erase that loss by tying the series.
At the morning skate today, the Flyers were again without Jeff Carter, Andreas Nodl, and Michael Leighton. They were also without Chris Pronger, though reports are that he will play. Rumors flew as to why he was absent, going from his back to his hand to a cold, but it is difficult to see Pronger missing tonight’s game.
In net tonight will be Brian Boucher, attempting to rebound from a poor performance. Nobody can blame Boucher for the Game One loss, but he will have to play better in Game Two. Unlike last round – when he was pulled in Game 5 – he will get the chance to make up for it in the following game.
Look for Zac Rinaldo to play once again, as he joined Jody Shelley again at practice. In Game One, Rinaldo played 3:50, registering two hits, taking a minor for goaltender interference and receiving a ten-minute misconduct halfway through the third period. If he plays, that line is unlikely to change.
The big things to watch for tonight, besides Pronger’s status and Boucher’s play, are how the team rebounds from a terrible defensive performance and how Peter Laviolette rebounds from a terrible coaching performance. On home ice, Laviolette needs to do a better job at keeping Danny Briere away from David Krejci and Zdeno Chara, something he couldn’t do in Game One. He also needs to match Mike Richards and Kris Versteeg up against the Krejci line, which he did not do last game either.
The game is on Versus tonight and starts at 7:30. Hopefully the Flyers are ready to play.
The Bruins were better on offense, on defense, in goal, and behind the bench. They jumped out to a 5-1 lead near the end of the second, and while the Flyers did eventually make it 5-3 with a little under 7 minutes to play, the outcome was never really in doubt.
Brian Boucher did not play well, but he did not play poorly either. Of the five goals he gave up, two came while the Bruins’ first line was out against the Danny Briere line. Another came against the Flyers 4th line. There were defensive breakdowns and deflections, and while Boucher cannot give up 5 goals, he could only be blamed for one, if that.
As alluded to above, the two biggest culprits in today’s defeat was the Flyers’ play in their own end and Peter Laviolette getting out-coached by Claude Julien. Throughout two periods, Julien was consistently able to keep his best line – of Nathan Horton, David Krejci, and Milan Lucic – away from the Flyers’ best defensive forwards, Mike Richards and Kris Versteeg. But Peter Laviolette played into it, allowing his fourth line to take a defensive zone faceoff against that line after a TV timeout, and he was burned for it. This after getting burned twice by putting the Briere line out against Krejci’s line.
On defense, there were missed assignments, turnovers, failed clears, and bad penalties. For a team that is relying on their six defensemen to win games for them, today was a miserable performance.
While the forwards had a relatively good game, their three goals weren’t enough. On most nights, it should be, but it wasn’t today. Most impressive today was the line of Claude Giroux, James van Riemsdyk – again – and Nikolay Zherdev. The NBC broadcast called them the "X-factor" in the series, but it wasn’t enough today.
A Few Notes:
Game Two is Monday at 7:30 p.m. on Versus
Well, things fell apart quickly there. The Bruins scored three times in the second to take a 5-1 lead before James van Riemsdyk brought the Flyers back to within three. Brian Boucher was pulled after the 5th goal in favor of Sergei Bobrovsky, the fourth time in eight games this postseason the starting goalie has been pulled.
And really, this was not a bad game by Brian Boucher. Could he have played better? Absolutely. But the NBC announcers got it right – it even feels weird typing that – when they said that Peter Laviolette is continually getting the wrong matchups on the ice. Claude Julien has effectively kept his first line away from the Flyers’ best defensive line all game, and that’s the difference so far.
The officiating once again proved poor when Johnny Boychuk was called for a high-stick on a follow through, which is not a penalty. The Flyers, however, were unable to convert on the resulting power play, which came right on the heels of another failed power play opportunity.
It isn’t the start the Flyers wanted, but they have gotten plenty of chances. Tim Thomas has had a great game so far, stopping James van Riemsdyk, Kris Versteeg, and Mike Richards all from in close. Through two periods, Thomas has 21 saves.
Now, the Flyers look to come back from a 3-goal deficit in only twenty minutes, which won’t be easy. The defense has made far too many mistakes so far and they will only have to get more aggressive in the third. In a game where so much has gone wrong – both behind the bench and in their own zone – Sergei Bobrovsky is the better goalie to have, as he can use his athleticism to make up for the poor play in front of him.
Only twenty minutes left as the Flyers look to avoid dropping the first game of a series on home ice for the second straight series.
After twenty minutes of play, the Flyers trail the Bruins 2-1. David Krejci put the Bruins up early on a broken play in front of Brian Boucher, but Danny Briere tied the score at one midway through the first period on a very similar play.
With only 36 seconds left, however, Ville Leino allowed Nathan Horton to drive down the slot and put a rebound past Brian Boucher, giving the Bruins the lead after one period. All three goals were scored with Leino and Briere on the ice, which… matches up with what we saw in the first series.
Throughout the period, the referees were once again questionable. Zac Rinaldo was called for goalie interference, but he was penalized more for who he is than what he did. At the other end, Daniel Paille lifted Chris Pronger’s stick to negate an icing, but was called for tripping. In all, the officiating has been worse – and both calls were made under the “protect the players” umbrella, but it wasn’t a good start for the men in stripes.
As alluded to earlier, both Bruins goals were scored by their top line. The Briere line was on the ice for both of them. On home ice, that is simply unacceptable. Peter Laviolette needs to be smarter and better at putting his players in a position to succeed, and putting his weakest defensive line on the ice against the Bruins’ best offensive line – and also their two tallest forwards – is not doing his job. It hasn’t been a good post-season for Laviolette, and he needs to fix it.
Still 40 minutes to play.
Last year, the Flyers pulled off one of the great comebacks in the NHL playoffs history coming from down three games to none to stun the Bruins in the Eastern Conference semifinals. This year, they’ll look to make things at least a little easier on themselves by getting a win in game one at home.
The Bruins enter this series with nine different players on the roster than the one that blew a 3-0 lead last year, but they also will have a different goalie in net. Last year’s backup – Tim Thomas – reverted to his Vezina-winning form and will be a crucial part of the Bruins playoff round. He’s very hit or miss – evidenced by his two superb games in Philadelphia this year and his two disastrous games in Boston – so the Flyers will look to get to him early.
The Flyers aren’t changing much from their first round series win against Buffalo, but there will be one change. The team will return to only dressing six defenseman by taking Danny Syvret out of the lineup and – likely – replacing him with Jody Shelley. This is a minor change, however, as Shelley will likely see less than four minutes of ice time.
This change is possible as Chris Pronger proved capable of playing at least 17 minutes a game, which proved a jump start to the team’s struggling power play. And while the Flyers’ power play improved with the return of Pronger, the Bruins power play failed to convert on a single man-advantage against the Canadiens. Yes, the Bruins’ power play is actually worse than the Flyers.
While the Bruins don’t look like a particularly strong offense on paper, they did finish 5th in the league in goals per game. Their strength lies in their depth up front, like the Flyers, except they lack that high-powered top line the Flyers have.
All indications are that this will be a very close series, so the difference between the two teams is likely going to be who can win one-goal games. Neither team won more than half of their one-goal games during the season, but Boston won three games in overtime against Montreal last series. Look for more one-goal games this series.
The day before Game 1 against Boston, the Flyers appear to be making one lineup change. At practice today, Chuck Gormley reported that the Flyers are likely to insert either Zac Rinaldo or Jody Shelley as the 12th forward, replacing 7th defenseman Danny Syvret.
This is not much of a surprise, as Danny Syvret did not touch the ice for the first 59:42 of Game 7 against the Sabres, due to Chris Pronger proving that he can handle over 17 minutes of ice time. Because of that, having a seventh defenseman just wasn’t necessary.
With Andreas Nodl and Jeff Carter still day-to-day with injury, the next likely forwards to dress would be Zac Rinaldo, Jody Shelley, and Ben Holmstrom. While it would be frustrating to see the team dress Jody Shelley, he will be a great cheerleader on the bench. It would be maddening if the team dressed Rinaldo, as he would offer nothing the team doesn’t already have in Dan Carcillo.
Preferably, the team would dress Ben Holmstrom, someone who is a young Darroll Powe. Holmstrom can take faceoffs, kill penalties, and even produce some offense – at least in the AHL. But either way, the 12th forward is unlikely to see even three minutes of ice time. It doesn’t matter much, but it would be a welcome change of pace for the Flyers to dress 12 forwards who can play hockey, not two forwards who are great at getting people to stop playing hockey.
Nodl has missed the last 5 games due to injury, but today is the first we’ve heard that it is an eye injury. Carter has also missed the last 3 games with a knee injury, but is reportedly likely to return at some point during this round.
The biggest news is that Michael Leighton is out with a lower-body injury. This could be the explanation for why Leighton was not at practice the day of Game 7, rather than a mental breakdown. The question becomes, is Leighton’s lower-body injury an aggravation of his back injury from last offseason? If so, how serious is it?
In terms of Game 1 against Boston, this news is not much of a factor. None of those three were likely to play before Game 3 – if at all – but now we have some clarity on what those injuries are.
Game 1: Boston at Philadelphia - 3:00 p.m. - Sat., April 30 (NBC)
Game 2: Boston at Philadelphia - 7:30 p.m. - Mon., May 2 (VS)
Game 3: Philadelphia at Boston - 7:00 p.m. - Wed., May 4 (VS)
Game 4: Philadelphia at Boston - 8:00 p.m. - Fri., May 6 (CSN)
Game 5: Boston at Philadelphia - 3:00 p.m. - Sun., May 8 (NBC)
Game 6: Philadelphia at Boston - TBD - Tue., May 10 (TBD)
Game 7: Boston at Philadelphia - TBD - Thu., May 12 (TBD)
The series will be on NBC at least once, Versus at least twice, and CSN at least once.
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