After another close game in which the Flyers battled back through two Boston leads, Milan Lucic’s turnaround slapshot through traffic with just under 3 minutes left to play put the B’s ahead for good and sent this series back to Philly with the Flyers desperately needing a couple of wins back at the Wach.
The Flyers came out much better in the first period this game than they did in Game 1, outshooting the Bruins 10-7 in the opening frame. Still, Boston managed to get on the board first, with Johnny Boychuk blasting a shot off a faceoff through Brian Boucher. Philly’s answer came at the end of the first, as Mike Richards scored his 4th goal of the playoffs to send the teams into the first break knotted at 1-1.
The 2nd period was very similar to the first, as the Flyers again outshot the Bruins, but fell behind again when Miro Satan snapped off a quick shot that beat Boucher five-hole. Still, the Flyers continued to battle, and they got a clutch goal from Danny Briere in the last minute of the period to tie the game heading into the 3rd.
Something Boston has done very well in this postseason is ramp up their play when it matters most, and for the 6th time in 8 playoff games, they outshot their opponent in the final period of play. The Flyers managed just 5 shots in the 3rd, while Boucher was pelted with 11 shots. Boosh got the first ten, but there were three Flyers standing directly between him and Lucic when the big forward found the puck on his stick in the slot and threw a hurried shot towards the crease that ended up being the game winner.
A real tough loss for the Flyers, but as Danny Briere put it: “The good thing, the positive, is we know we can play. We know we’re right there. It could be a bounce one way or the other that can change the outcome.” While that is certainly true, it’s often said that good bounces are created by hard work. In the last two games, the Flyers have been unable to counter late surges by Boston, and the Bruins’ two opportune game winners have both come as a result of sustained pressure within the Flyers’ zone.
A big part of the problem is in the faceoff circle. Mike Richards was absolutely dominated on the dots last night, winning only 5 of 21 draws. The only two guys that finished with more wins than losses for Philly were Giroux (9 for 15) and Darroll Powe (5 for 9). For the B’s, Patrice Bergeron was great in the circles, winning 16 of 22 draws, including all 9 he took in the first. Faceoffs are a huge part of building and maintaining offensive zone pressure, and the Flyers will have to improve on their presence at the faceoff dot, although without leading faceoff taker Jeff Carter, that may be easier said than done.
After coming into this series on a 3 game win streak, the Flyers will be pressing hard to even the series at home. They took both games against New Jersey at home, so there’s reason to think that the same thing can’t happen here. I’d expect the Flyers to come out banging bodies and try to a physical edge against a Boston team that has shown they’re not afraid to mix it up a bit themselves.
Someone that has to step up, especially with Gagne and Carter out, is Dan Carcillo. He played a huge role in the New Jersey series, and, despite his reputation for being a bruising hitter and Grade A agitator, has the skills to contribute more than just punches and f-bombs. He should thrive in a tough physical series like this, and will have no shortage of motivation after alleging that Marc Savard bit his finger in a scrum during the 2nd period. I doubt he’ll get a chance to fight Savard, but a couple of goals over the next two games would be more than enough revenge.
1. Milan Lucic
2. Mike Richards
3. Johnny Boychuk