Saturday, April 23, 2011
Posted: 12:30 p.m. Updated: 3:30 p.m.
By Tim Panaccio
A lot of unsolved mysteries surrounding Game 6 between the Flyers and Sabres in Buffalo.
For starters, who is the starting goalie?
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said he wanted to sleep on his decision and he has apparently made up his mind but wouldnt say who it would be Michael Leighton, who finished Game 5 or Brian Boucher who started Games 3, 4 and 5.
He wouldnt say whether his decision would be based solely on this playoff series or the entire season.
For me, it will probably be a combination of everything, Laviolette said. Certainly, where were at right now and how the playoffs have gone will factor into it more than how somebody played halfway through the year or beginning of the year or last year. I think it will be more current than anything
As for Chris Pronger and Jeff Carter, Carter did not practice and was in street clothes again, limping. He has a badly sprained right knee. A source said he wont return this series.
A different source said on Friday that Prongers pain in his right hand, coupled with the fact the hand is not stable enough to allow him to protect himself on the ice, would make him unavailable to play at any point in this series.
The Flyers have Pronger listed as day-to-day.
Yet, Pronger took more slap shots on Saturday, and they were hard shots, too. It now becomes a question of whether Pronger throws caution to the wind because the Flyers are facing elimination, and plays anyway, despite pain or injury or his inability to protect his hand.
He likely has to weigh that against if the Flyers could win without him and allow himself more time to heal.
How the crowd gets them pumped up. How they can use the energy in the building to strike against their opponents.
Well, the awful truth is, this season, its a total myth.
The Flyers ended the regular season having lost eight of their last 11 home games. Some were overtime losses, others shootouts, but the fact remains they were losses.
They were 22-12-7 at home. They had a franchise record 25 wins on the road.
In this series, Buffalo has won two of the three games played at Wells Fargo Center. Wheres this huge advantage for the Flyers playing at home? Its not there.
Ask young Tyler Ennis, who scored the overtime game-winner Friday night.
Yeah it felt good to silence it the crowd, Ennis said. Its definitely a fun place to play, its pretty crazy. There were some funny signs in warm-ups.
Some crazy fans were getting into it. I mean its a lot like Buffalo, too. The fans care a lot about the team and its a fun building to play in. Anytime you can silence a crowd its pretty awesome.
Unless youre the Flyers.
James van Riemsdyk has had a wonderful playoff series. You can see the growth within his play from last spring's postseason to now.
Van Riemsdyk had a goal on Friday night to ignite the Flyers' comeback in regulation. He has two goals in the series.
I thought JVR had a strong performance for us, Laviolette said. We have a lot of confidence right now and I didnt really put that correlation together, but good observation by you.
I thought he was strong and is really using his speed, size and the puck seems to be sticking with him. He is getting lots of offensive opportunities.
Who has it in Game 6? We need to go up there and get a win, said Laviolette. We need to focus on who we are, our identity and we need to bring a whole lot of passion into the game and go on and win it, first and foremost.
What was Lindy Ruffs take?
I said it earlier, that every game has been a one-goal game, the Sabres coach replied. They are a quick attack team and can take the momentum away from us for 10 minutes and all of a sudden we can get them on their heels and get some momentum back.
We know that they have some dangerous offensive players and if we make a mistake that they are able to capitalize. Who has the momentum? I like the fact that we get to go back and play in our building, but there is some pressure playing at home too.
That would be Ennis, who scored the Game 5-winning goal in overtime.
Ennis had two goals on Friday night and has three career playoff goals in 11 games. He is just 21 years old, part of the core youth movement on the Buffalo roster.
It puts a smile on your face as a coach because I thought Ennis was tremendous, Ruff said.
You are going to one of the toughest buildings and one of the loudest to play in. That kid played fearless and hard and started from the first shift.
If anyone deserved the game-winning goal it would probably be him, but our young guys have to be given credit because they havent been in this situation before.
E-mail Tim Panaccio at email@example.com
Related: Flyers' rally falls short in wild Game 5 OT defeat Flyers' road success plays favorably for Game 6