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Brian Boucher, Eye of the Storm

Near chaos surrounds him. There’s panic in the stands. There’s panic on the bench. But Brian Boucher is solid as a rock.

Pre-Game

Yesterday morning came the news that Boosh would be starting in net. That wasn’t too much of a surprise, and I don’t think was much cause for concern. Despite what the players said about trusting Bob, they definitely like Boosh more. They communicate better, and like how he handles the puck. The huge surprise was that Leighton was riding shotgun, and Bob was in the press box. What the hell is that about? He’s our most talented goalie. Yes, he played pretty bad in Game 2. But for that we shut him down? I don’t know what the point of this move it. But it screams “panic” to me. I usually trust Lavy, but I’m not sure about the repercussions of this move for the future.

In-Game

The defense was sloppy yesterday. For the first time in this series, Buffalo kept possession in our zone for long stretches. Part of it was their puck movement, but a lot of it was inability to clear the puck. Coburn tried to clear it around the boards a few times, only to have it stopped easily because he didn’t get enough power or height on it. Carle had a turnover that lead to a brief odd man rush. Other guys couldn’t skate out with it, and had passes picked off. I think it was Coburn again who sent a perfect pass right to the tape of a Sabres player that was headed right back towards our zone. Turnovers, turnover, turnovers. You cannot survive if you keep coughing the puck up to the other team.

Of course, the 5-on-3 in the 3rd period was the turning point that everyone is talking about. And rightfully so. Powe was an over-aggressive idiot when he came flying in to clear the porch. On one hand, I like it when the Flyer knock people around for getting too close to the crease after a whistle. We haven’t done enough of that lately. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. Skating full speed into someone’s back and hitting them head first into the cross-bar is the wrong way!

The Boucher Effect

First, he was ready to step in as the starter. He’s been in that role before, and it doesn’t mess with his nerves. The spotlight doesn’t bother him. Media speculation and criticism of the Flyers doesn’t distract him. He came in and did a great job in net. He was screen on the first goal, and could have gotten the second if his glove was a bit faster.  Still, both shots were top shelf, and you can’t blame him for that pinpoint accuracy. He gave up one ridiculous rebound, but there were no Sabres within the same timezone to make him pay. Other than that, he absorbed pucks.

That was especially important given how much more time the Sabres spent in our zone. This was evident in the total shots the team gave up. After 25 in Game 1, and 28 in Game 2, Buffalo jumped up to 37 in Game 3. Boosh covered the posts well when players tried to bang pucks past him.  He never cheated or overplayed any rushes, and managed to stay in position at all times. The Sabres tested his glove hand early, and he didn’t falter once.

Finally, during what could have been a major turning point, Boucher was completely calm.  He had the presence of mind to toss his helmet off when he felt something wrong with the strap. How many other goalies would take that kind of risk? What if you get a ref who thinks a netminder is faking to kill clock, and calls a delay of game penalty. Boucher admitted that he took his time going to the bench and back to give his penalty killers some time to rest. It had the crowd angry, but he knew exactly what he was doing. He knew the gravity of the situation, and how to handle it. Brian Boucher, you are the man!

Here’s the Knee-Jerk Reaction to Game 3. Sabre Noise will prob. have more analysis and preview coming soon.

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Tags: Boucher Effect Braydon Coburn Brian Boucher Buffalo Sabres Darroll Powe Eastern Conference Quarter Finals Game 1 Game 2 Game 3 Matt Carle Michael Leighton Peter Laviolette Philadelphia Flyers Sergei Bobrovsky

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