Sunday, May 1, 2011

Fuhgeddaboudit, Flyers

On one glove, you could say the Philadelphia Flyers have the Boston Bruins right where they want them one game into their Eastern Conference semifinal series. The Flyers gave up seven goals. They had their starting goaltender yanked for the fourth time in eight postseason games. And they had home-ice advantage jerked away from them in a 7-3 loss to the Bruins Saturday.

For it was these same Flyers, one year ago against these same Bruins, who fell behind 3-0 in their playoff series but came back to win four straight and the series -- despite trailing 3-0 in Game 7.

But history will not be made this year. You can count on it. I'll repeat one particular sentence above for emphasis:

They had their starting goaltender yanked for the fourth time in eight postseason games.

The Stanley Cup playoffs are the domain of the hot goaltender, the singular sensation that carries a team on his back, instills confidence and gets the home crowd to chant his name. But forgive Flyers fans for having no idea whose name to shout out at the Wells Fargo Center.


The first round began with Sergei Bobrovsky between the pipes for the Flyers against the Sabres. He lost Game 1 1-0 in overtime, then was pulled in favor of Brian Boucher (above) in Game 2, eventually won by the Flyers 5-4 in overtime.

Boucher started Game 3 (a 4-2 win), Game 4 (a 1-0 loss) and Game 5 -- a 4-3 overtime loss in which he was yanked for not Bobrovsky, but rather Michael Leighton.

Leighton started Game 6 but was apparently on a very short leash and was replaced by Boucher in an eventual 5-4 overtime win.

Boucher started and won Game 7 5-2 as Philly advanced to face the Bruins, but was pulled for Bobrovsky in the second period after giving up all five goals.

The starter in Game 2 Monday is anyone's guess. How about Ron Hextall? Or Bernie Parent? Or Denis Lemieux? Because it won't matter. Not with whoever's in goal for the Flyers looking to the bench and coach Peter Laviolette's thumb. During the postseason, you want to ride your hot hand, not worrying about whose hand that's going to be.

"Certainly, you don't want to do that," Laviolette said regarding the game of musical chairs in front of the Flyers' net. "Based on the way we played, the team deserves most of the responsibility."

For their part, the Flyers are trying to keep their game faces on.

"It's always a wakeup call for the team," Boucher told "You always see to get a bit of a boost after there's a goalie change. I think that's why coaches are so apt to do that. That seems to be one of the last things they can do, as opposed to yelling at the guys or calling a timeout.

"At the same time, I don't see the need for a change, but we'll see what happens."

Laviolette was asked about momentum, and his response was telling.

"I believe in desperation," he said.

That sounds about right. Which is why the Flyers are done.

No comments: