Well, that was easier than we all expected. The Flyers lit up Ryan Miller, and sent the Sabres packing. And for all of the Orange and Black faithful, it’s something we needed to see. Game 7 glory!
The only thing making me nervous throughout the first period was the score. We dominated from the opening faceoff, and had nothing to show for it. Giroux caught iron when he was in tight and got Miller down. Richards couldn’t find the back of the net despite a ton of early chances. When Coburn’s weak shot from the point in the last 20 seconds went it, it was a beautiful sign of things to come. Maybe it was slightly tipped, maybe it wasn’t. Still, Miller should have had it, and he missed it. Briere doubled the lead early in the second thanks to a sweet set up on a point shot by Richards. Whenever I analyze a series, I look at the centers. Each of these goals proves my point, because both were a result of faceoff wins. Clean draw to the point, shot, score!
After that it was just an onslaught that Buffalo couldn’t match. JVR parked his ass in front, and deflected a wrister from Giroux. It’s something that they’d worked on in practice, and was nice to see it pay off. Still, with half a game left, you knew anything could happen. It was important to keep the pressure up and hope for maybe another goal. Early in the third, Leino blasted the puck into the top corner from a bad angle to send Ryan Miller to the bench. It was obvious at that point that the series was in the bag, and Buffalo was content to take their lashings and go home quietly.
All in all, we saw a lot of good from the Flyers:
- Zherdev took the body on a consistent basis. One play in particular he let someone past him on a weak stick check, but came right back and threw a hit that lead to a breakout.
- The powerplay worked well because we took smart shots from the point. Richards aimed his toss so that the denseman right in front of him couldn’t block it, and so it would go directly at Briere at the side of the net, rather that directly in front. Giroux’s attempt was also intended to be tipped, rather than to overpower the goalie.
- The PK was 3-4. The last goal was in garbage time. We killed off 2 penalties when it was still 0-0, and another after taking the 1-0 lead. A goal during any of those, and it might be a different game.
- The forecheck was never ending. Officially, the had 11 giveaways, and we had 5 takeaways. Unofficially, it seemed that almost every time they tried to clear the puck we managed to get a stick or a skate on it.
- Ville Leino looks like he’s completely in playoff form now. He was shielding the puck and cycling at will along the boards, in the corners, and behind the net.
- Ditto Hartnell and Briere.
- Pronger was significantly more effective in this game. He knocks pucks off sticks when guys challenged him, and he had a few long passes to start the attack. On the power play he moved the puck and tried a few wrist shots. I think it’s a bit of a coincidence that the numbers improved with him in the line-up, because he wasn’t really involved with setting up either PP goal. Still, if the players believe he helps and gives them a confidence and ego boost, then that’s great.
Overall, the series ended the way it should have went. The Flyers are much, much, much better than the Sabres when they are on their game. They showed it last night. Ryan Miller is still an all-universe goalie, but he’s still human. If you get the right kind of chances on him, you’ll beat him. 22 goals in 7 games is pretty decent against a goalie of his caliber. So now we wait to see who we face next. If Boston beats Montreal, we play them. If Montreal wins, then they face Washington, and we play the winner of Tampa/Pittsburgh.
Until then, laugh at the misery on Sabre Noise.
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Topics: Boston Bruins, Braydon Coburn, Buffalo Sabres, Chris Pronger, Claude Giroux, Danny Briere, Eastern Conference Quarter Finals, Game 7, JVR, Mike Richards, Montreal Canadiens, Nikolai Zherdev, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Ryan Miller, Scott Hartnell, Tampa Bay Lightning, Ville Leino, Washington Capitals