Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Posted: 9:38 p.m. Updated: 11:25 p.m.
By Tim Panaccio
BOSTON So how much of that black magic do you think the Flyers still have stashed away from last springs 3-0 comeback to Boston in these very same Eastern Conference semifinals?
Some? A lot? None?
Well, they better start searching for it, because if Peter Laviolettes club is going to play past Friday the Flyers now have to start duplicating last springs effort following Wednesday nights emotionless 5-1 dismantling at TD Garden.
Its an awful lot to expect and Boston is playing very well and were going to have to step up our game in order to compete with them, said Flyers chairman Ed Snider.
The lack of competition after giving up two quick goals was surprising as it took the Flyers quite a while to muster up a response, and even then, it was muted.
Big deal, were down 2-0 with 59 minutes to play, Sean ODonnell said. Its not the end of the world. We had a big lead in Game 2 and look at the way Boston bounced back. We didnt have that push that we needed.
We were on our heels a bit after being down like that and all theyve been hearing for the past 12 months is what happened last year, and when they got that 2-0 lead they played well defensively and really finished the body on us.
It does get tiring getting down early in games like that, but we have no one to blame but ourselves. We knew they were going to be amped up coming in here to have the kind of breakdowns like we had in the first minute is, you are not going to win playoff hockey that way and we got what we deserved.
After sounding confident at the morning skate about how they needed to take the play to the Bruins, the Flyers allowed Boston to smack them around at the start.
Additionally, after playing 197 games over the past 20 months, the Flyers look gassed right now. None of the energy, tempo, emotion from the terrific Game 2 overtime loss carried over. None.
Yeah, just a weird, flat game all-around, said Jeff Carter, who played on one knee, logging 16:41 ice time. We were sloppy with the puck and didnt make many plays. When you do that against a team like this that is so good defensively, you dont get much.
Brian Boucher gave up four goals on 20 shots before being yanked for Sergei Bobrovsky, but could not be blamed entirely for the first two.
Carter, still far from being healthy with a badly sprained right knee, alternated on various lines and played on the power(less) play, as well. Most of his shifts, he was floating in neutral ice to avoid having to skate the full length of the ice, trying to give the Flyers offense.
He had a great scoring chance off a situation just like that one in the second period. At the same time, he had no push-off on starts and stops. The point is, Carter still tried under great duress.
Just a nightmarish first period for Boucher, who gave up two goals on three shots just 63 seconds into the game.
Thats when Laviolette burned his only timeout. Not to address the team, mind you, but to talk to Boucher and calm him down.
Obviously, the start was not good for us, Laviolette said. We tried to regain our composure. I thought we did a little bit. The first period we got through it, but we couldnt catch any offense to give us some life back at that point from where we sunk to.
The start was unacceptable. The first three, four minutes in their building has to be good minutes and well executed.
On the games opening shift, the Flyers had a rush into the Boston end. Play came back up ice and Zdeno Chara took a pass from Brad Marchand in the left cicle, uncovered and blasted it high over Boucher at the 30-second mark.
Thirty-three seconds later, Milan Lucic wheeled around the right corner and backhanded the puck into the slot where who else ? David Krejci buried it for his fourth goal of the series on Boucher and fifth overall in these playoffs.
His line with Lucic and Nathan Horton had six points.
It was a good start by our first two lines, Krejci said. I just threw the puck deep and go after it and Lucic made a great backhand pass to me. Kind of luck for me that it kind of floated in, but Ill take it.
Just like that, 2-0. And yes, that was a Flyer franchise record for fastest two goals by an opponent at a games start. ODonnell told the CBC that the Flyers were uncharacteristically hanging their heads on the bench.
I dont know the reason, but I dont what to hear anyone blame Boosh for a Chara slap shot from there and the other from five feet away, ODonnell said. Its unfortunate we played that way defensively the first minute.
It really seemed to deflate us a bit and it took a while to get going. We couldnt seem to get back into it.
Kimmo Timonen called it, the worst possible start you could imagine.
Which is why heads sagged.
We knew they would come out strong, Danny Briere said. That was the game right there.
The Flyers got a power play soon after, but seemed so rattled they didnt get a shot off while Boston was banging them hard all over the ice. Ville Leino got hit twice on one shift, but the Bruins targeted him because he controls the puck so much.
Near the periods end, Kris Versteeg was leveled on the breakout by David Paille before he even got to his own blue line.
Worse, the Flyers lost every one-on-one battle. They lost 76 percent of the faceoff draws in the game. If you were looking for a sense of desperation it wasnt there.
Im not sure, team captain Mike Richards replied when asked if desperation was missing. The start put us behind the eight ball and we couldnt get anything going.
The Flyers had a power play carry over into the second period for 1:46 and looked tentative. All kinds of miscues, too, like Richards firing on an open look wide of goal, then allowing a puck get behind him at the point, something Andrej Meszaros did, as well.
It just didnt seem we could find the puck, control it and make plays, Richards said. Give them credit, they capitalize on their opportunities ...
ODonnell deserves credit for trying to get the Flyers going that period with a fight against Nathan Horton, but there was no carryover effect.
Paille, who literally made his presence felt that first period with the Versteeg hit, iced the Flyers at 13:39 off an odd-man rush with a 26-foot wrister under the crossbar for the Bruins third goal. It was his first career playoff goal in 10 games.
A few minutes later, Bobrovsky came on in relief as Boucher wickedly banged his stick on the post after allowing a five-hole goal by Horton, making it 4-0. He had the shot covered coming out of the net, but opened up.
Richards and others defended Boucher.
They had prime scoring opportunities, Richards said. Right in the slot. Theyre a team that has great offensive capabilities and doesnt need much room with the great shooters they have there. When youre giving them shots from the slot its tough.
Meszaros got that one back at 16:26, yet the game was long since over and the Flyers really never challenged goalie Tim Thomas enough.
It looked like we were skating in sand, Timonen said. It was heavy and we looked tired. But you know what? Theres still hope as long as theres games.
E-mail Tim Panaccio at email@example.com.