In Game 1 of this series, it was the Bruins that got a lift from the return of Marc Savard to the lineup. Tonight, Simon Gagne played a huge role in helping keep this series alive, netting the overtime winner and sending the Wachovia Center into a frenzy. Gagne’s presence was definitely a boost, but the Flyers played a much better game all around tonight.
First of all, they got bodies in front of Tuuka Rask, and the results were obvious. Gagne redirected Matt Carle’s pass under Rask from just outside the paint, and was standing on the doorstep with Carcillo when Chris Pronger scored in the 2nd. Ville Leino‘s tip of Pronger’s shot in the 3rd changed directions and gave Rask no shot to make a play on it.
Second, the Flyers did a good job of maintaining consistent offensive pressure in the Bruins’ zone. Andreas Nodl and Darroll Powe had great games, combining for 11 hits on the night. On the flip side, though, Dan Carcillo didn’t even register a hit, and saw very limited ice time, taking just 11 shifts totaling 7:46 of ice time. It should be interesting to see if Carcillo is more involved in Game 5. Puck control could have been a bit better, as Philly had 14 giveaways tonight, but overall, I thought that the general flow of this game favored Philadelphia more than Boston, something that was rare over the first 3 games. Not that it’s surprising the Flyers came out hard in this one, playing with their postseason lives on the line in front of the home fans.
Mark Recchi continued his successful play, netting two goals for the B’s, including the game-tying goal in the closing seconds. A veteran scorer, Recchi has just shown an incredible knack for being in the right place at the right time and scoring big goals. You can’t even really blame Boucher for the last goal, as Recchi managed to pop the bottle from beside the net. You can blame Boosh for Boston’s 2nd goal. I still don’t really know how that puck got knocked in, but with no room for error left, you don’t wanna see any more of those the rest of the way.
It was also good to see a high level of production from the blueline. Matt Carle had a great night, notching 4 assists, 3 blocked shots and a +5 rating. Pronger’s presence on the point was a big part of the win, but he also had a team-high 3 giveaways tonight. The Flyers did a pretty good job of clearing the front of the net and taking care of business in their own end, and, consequently, were able to turn that success into a much more effective offense.
They’re not out of the woods yet, not by a long shot, but there were good signs tonight that the Flyers are very much alive. Versus’ catchphrase in their advertising has been “Make it happen,” and while the odds are against them, the guys in the locker room clearly believe they can still make it happen. Monday’s game in Boston will be an even bigger hurdle than tonight’s game, but there’s no reason not to expect that the Flyers, especially coming off a big OT win, with the veteran leadership they have, will be more than ready to go come puck drop.
1. Chris Pronger – 1 goal, 1 assist, +3
2. Simon Gagne – 1 goal, 7 shots, +1
3. Claude Giroux – 1 goal, 1 assist, 3 shots, +1