Thursday, April 28, 2011
Posted: 5:02 p.m.
By Sarah BaickerCSNPhilly.com
Before Wednesdays Game 7 overtime victory against the Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien reminded his players that a win would present them a chance to redeem themselves.
Anyone who followed the Flyers remarkable run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2010 knows exactly what Julien is referring to. This time last year, the Bruins built up a 3-0 series lead over the Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals, only to lose in an eventual Game 7 on their own ice.
That collapse is certainly something they havent forgotten, and its undoubtedly going to be a big source of motivation for them as they seek revenge, starting Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.
For the Flyers, however, the historical feat of last season (only two teams before them had fought back from 3-0 playoff deficits to win) is a great memory but not necessarily anything more than that. Even knowing theyre facing the same opponent.
Every years different, Chris Pronger said. Youve got to focus on the book, or whatever you want to call it, of how theyve played this year. Every year youre going to have subtle changes and differences, and theyre no different.
The Flyers struggled somewhat against the Bruins the season, posting a 1-3 record, their sole win a 2-1 overtime victory in Boston back in December. Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, the teams playoff starter, shut them out once, as well one of his nine shutouts of the year.
The Bruins finished the season with just two fewer wins and three fewer points (103) than the Flyers.
They had a great season and theyve moved on to the second round just like we did, coach Peter Laviolette said. I would think that everything will be determined by these two teams on the ice, how they play in a seven game series. And the one that plays more effectively will be the team that moves on, and not necessarily based on what somebody says in the paper or a result from last year. That stuff is all secondary, for me anyway.
Its a different year, sure, but the two teams' rosters are still very similar. Kris Versteeg, Andrej Meszaros and Sean ODonnell werent a part of the Flyers roster last year, and five Bruins (including Nathan Horton and Tomas Kaberle) werent members of the Bruins. But thats about where the major personnel updates end.
Obviously the biggest difference is going to be between the pipes, Pronger said. Last year we faced Tuukka Rask, this year Thomas. Its a completely different element and atmosphere.
Thomas, a veteran at 37 years of age, put together an incredible season for the Bruins this year. His .938 save percentage broke the NHLs single-season record, and his 2.00 goals-against average was the best in the league.
Hes a great goaltender, Mike Richards said. A little bit unorthodox, so its tough to watch video on him and see some of his tendencies. Were going to do the same thing this series as we did last series against Ryan Miller: just get the puck to the net as much as possible, try to get tips, deflections, second and third opportunities and really shoot to score, because at any point he can come flying across if you think you have an open net. Until that puck crosses the line, Timmys going to battle.
But one thing the Flyers will certainly want to manage differently is the way they start the series. Climbing out of a 3-0 hole and in the dramatic fashion they did so is simply not something that any club is likely to repeat.
The Flyers are already tired of making comparisons to last years semifinals. But theres a belief in resiliency thats been apparent with the club all season, and especially during last weeks series against the Buffalo Sabres. They dug out of 3-0 deficits to force overtime, battled back from multiple 2-0 situations to win and stayed alive for Game 7 with their backs against a wall.
And its more than likely that that never give up attitude has roots in last years astonishing defeat of the Bruins.
It goes both ways, Danny Briere said. Theyre going to use that as motivation, but also, we know were in their heads and thats going to be with them the whole series. Were using that to our advantage as well, knowing that its never over we can always come back.
E-mail Sarah Baicker at firstname.lastname@example.org
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