Saturday, April 16, 2011
Posted: 9:23 p.m.
By Sarah Baicker
In an ideal world, Sergei Bobrovsky would have morphed into the proverbial hot goalie, and the Flyers would have ridden his success to a big Game 2 win.
But the world of hockey - especially lately, and especially in Philadelphia - has been far from ideal. That said, it likely comes as no surprise that Bobrovsky struggled mightily Saturday evening, coughing up three goals on just seven Buffalo Sabres shots.
Or to put it another way, his performance was only slightly worse than his final regular-season game against the New York Islanders April 11, when he allowed three goals on eight shots. Both times, though, he was pulled after about 12 minutes.
The Flyers playoff starting goalie has now been pulled from the game in two of his last three starts. The team managed to get the 5-4 win in Game 2 despite it, but and this is putting it lightly thats not good.
After the game, though, the Flyers line on Bobrovsky remained the same.
There were some bad bounces there for Bob in the first period; I dont think any of the goals you can really fault him, Danny Briere said. They were tough saves. A 5 on 3, a few power plays. We put him in a tough position.
In fact, coach Peter Laviolette said pulling Bobrovsky had at least as much to do with the players skating in front of him than it did with his performance between the pipes. The Sabres had just taken a 3-2 lead in a wild, back-and-fourth first period that had both teams scrambling.
But when the door to the Flyers bench swung open and Brian Boucher skated out onto the ice, a sense of relative calm overtook his teammates that put them back on task. The difference was perceptible immediately.
Boosh is very calm, Sean ODonnell said. Hes been around. It takes a special kind of person to come in down 3-2 with 20,000 fans in a big game Im not saying a must-win, but a big game and he settled things down for us. I think thats one of the reasons why we played a little bit more composed in the last 45, 50 minutes.
For days now, the Flyers mantra has remained the same: no matter whos between the pipes, the team has confidence in him. That goes for Bobrovsky, Boucher and even Michael Leighton. They were relieved to find that when they needed to call on their backup, he was able to rise to the occasion.
Theres so many times where Boucher comes in and hes bailed us out, Laviolette said. Hes a veteran goaltender that has a calmness about him. In a game where there was a lot of emotion and a lot of energy, especially in the first period he can come in and really settle things down for us, and thats just what he did. Hes done it in the past, and it was great to see him do it tonight.
The Flyers are lucky, too. Though, as James van Riemsdyk pointed out no matter what, you know what youre going to get with Boucher. Combined, the Flyers two goalies allowed four goals. But as shaky as Bobrovsky was, Sabres goalie Ryan Miller wasnt much better at least through time the two shared the ice. Miller allowed three goals on only nine shots.
Boucher, who at this point is no stranger to taking over the reins mid-game for the Flyers, stopped 20 of the 21 shots he faced. All the while, as his teammates pointed out, he was supremely composed, very much reminiscent of how Miller appeared during Thursdays shutout.
I wanted to be solid for my teammates so we could have a chance to come back, Boucher said. It was one of those crazy games where it seemed like the last goal would win. So I just wanted to go in there and try to do my best, and it worked out.
The question now, of course, is which goalie starts Game 3 Monday night in Buffalo?
As obvious as it might seem to start Boucher, given the way both he and Bobrovsky played, Bobrovsky has almost always rebounded nicely in games after he took a disappointing loss or was pulled. Just consider the way he looked on Thursday, following that ugly April 11 Islanders loss.
Weve got a lot of confidence in Bob, Laviolette said. He always answers the bell. When he has an outing where maybe he wishes he could have a few back, he always comes back and answers the bell the next game.
E-mail Sarah Baicker at email@example.com
Related: Flyers top Sabres in wild Game 2, tie series at 1-1 Flyers notes: special teams, Pronger still out, JVR