Last Friday night the Flyers were going into Game 4 at home down 3-0 and not many people thought they could actually come back and win against a defensively-sound Bruins team. The fans kept the noise going at the Wachovia Center to help their Flyers avoid a sweep and send the series back to Boston where not many people thought they could win in a hostile building. Well, Game 4 ended in dramatic fashion with Boston evening things up late in the 3rd and forcing overtime. The returning Simon Gagne became the hero and scored the game winner to extend the series to at least 5 games. Game 5 exhibited great play by the Flyers as they took advantage of the Bruins who came out pretty flat for the game. Locking up defensively and getting some offensive help, the Flyers easily took the game 4-0 even after losing Brian Boucher to injury and having to put Leighton back in. The series was going back to Philly for a Game 6, and a must-win for Boston…
Watching last night’s game there was not a doubt in my mind that they were coming out of it with a win. The Flyers came out firing in the first 10 minutes of the period and got that first goal thanks to the crashing of the crease by Richards, Carcillo, and Gagne. Carcillo took up some attention of the Boston defenders as Richie stuffed the loose puck past Rask and their top pairing with Chara on the ice. The Bruins started to push back shortly after that and things started to even out as the Bruins dominated face-offs again and started to get some chances on Leighton. Boston actually out-shot the Flyers marginally each period and totaled up 31-27. Speaking of which, Michael Leighton saved a game-changing play from happening when Whitfield got a shorthanded breakaway. Leighton remained square to the shooter and gave him little to shoot at as he gobbled the puck up in the logo and stopped a possible momentum-shifting play. Danny Briere would score on a 5-on-3 late in the 2nd to make it 2-0, a huge lift to the Flyers who would have liked an insurance goal going into the 3rd. Lucic scored with 1:00 left in the 3rd period with the extra attacker but the Flyers held on to win 2-1. Blair Betts went down in the 3rd period and did not return with what appears to be an injured shoulder. This is not good news as our forward depth has dwindled as it is this post-season, and now our top face-off man and penalty killer left is going down. We’ll have an update on the injury tomorrow, as I expect Betts to play injured tomorrow being that it is a GAME 7.
Even though Boston out-shot us and had some quality chances, I just had a feeling that Boston was not in this game. The Flyers did a great job of blocking shots and our defense played top-notch hockey. I can’t remember the last time I was impressed with Braydon Coburn’s play, but he was spectacular last night along with the rest of the defensive corps. Even Krajicek and Parent made some nice plays. Danny Briere has Rask’s number this season because a few of those goals have been shaky ones let up by the rookie netminder and he must be getting to his head or something. Leighton played a great game as well and made all the saves he had too. Another pleasant surprise recently has been Ville Leino’s play. He didn’t register any points last night, but he was great at keeping the play alive in the offensive zone and has been key to helping that Briere line along with Hartnell produce some offense.
Game 7 is set for Friday night at 7 PM in Boston and it will be THE hardest game yet. It’s different now that the Bruins have their backs against the wall. The injuries to Krejci and Sturm are catching up to the Bruins as their offense has faltered as of late. Game 7 is going to come down to the same thing it has all series, it’s just a question of whether the Flyers can execute. Boston came out hard for most of last night’s game and we still walked away with a win, we’ll see if the Flyers can pull it off again. They know they need a better effort, and Lavvy’s post-game comments suggested that he wants a better effort as well. Our rival the Penguins just lost a Game 7 at home to the Canadiens last night, so that leaves whoever wins this game will be playing the 8th seed in the ECF. The Flyers can win this and have home-ice as the 7th seed… what a great playoffs for hockey fans this has been. There’s going to be a viewing party at the Wachovia Center for free on Friday and I’m pretty sure I’m going to be checking that out. Nothing better than being in our building with some fellow Flyers fans and watching history being made.