Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Posted: 10:19 a.m.
By Tim Panaccio and Sarah Baicker
Already, theyve twice climbed out of early-game deficits to force overtime. In Game 6, facing elimination, they fought back from two two-goal deficits to win and bring the series back to Philadelphia.
So what is it about this Flyers team that allows them to dig in when theyre facing adversity?
I think usually you get the best out of people when their backs are against the wall, Brian Boucher said. And thats been the case with this team since Ive been here, last year and this year. But I think thats the case with any group. When youre really tested, thats when you see really see the true character in people. Its a resilient group.
We did what we needed to do in Buffalo, and now were looking to finish the job here in Game 7.
Certainly, theres an element of resiliency within this club. Whether it be playing in front of the goaltender of the moment, fighting hard in front of Ryan Miller or simply just not giving up, somewhere along the way, they learned how to persevere.
Some of that may have to do with history. Last year, right around this time, the Flyers many of them still with the team overcame a seemingly insurmountable hurdle when they defeated the Boston Bruins in seven games, after trailing 3-0 in the series.
I think, first of all, that the fact that we went through it last year makes us believe that we can come back in about any situation, Danny Briere said. But I think a lot of it has to be a belief that we can do it and not quit; its really easy when you get in those situations, you can kind of say, all right, too late, were defeated. But thats whats impressive about this group of guys. Every time that happens, instead of putting our heads down, we seem to say, lets stop it here and find a way to get back.
Captain Mike Richards agreed to an extent but warned that, when it all comes down to it, to win, the team must simply play its game.
I think it only has an effect on the first five minutes and the last five minutes on the game, Mike Richards said. Other than that, its just hockey throughout the middle. We obviously want to come out to a good start and get the crowd into it early and play our game, but its nice to have that experience. At the same time, it doesnt matter if its your first or your tenth; youre still a little bit nervous and excited to get going.
All but two players on the Flyers roster (Kris Versteeg and Andrej Meszaros) have experience playing in Game 7s. Though Richards and a few other Flyers were a bit hesitant to call that familiarity a big advantage, Ville Leino pointed out a reason to consider why it just might be.
Experience is a lot, Leino said. Usually the experienced players are good in tough spots, and I think weve got a lot of guys who really want to win games, and theyve got big wills. So I think thats an advantage for us.
Of course, there is a caveat. Confidence, experience and can only carry a team so far. In addition to inconsistent goaltending, the Flyers must overcome other struggles, including a power play that seemingly cant produce and a goalie, in Miller, who can practically win a game on his own.
Maybe it helps a little bit, James van Riemsdyk said of the teams past ability to climb out from deficits. But at the same time, its all about going out there and doing it. you could have been there before, but if you dont go out there and play tomorrow, it doesnt mean much.
Thats exactly what the Flyers will have to do tonight with Brian Boucher in net and Jeff Carter still sidelined, they will have to bring everything theyve got or summer will start just a bit too early.
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff blew off any suggestion whatsoever that the Flyers have a profound edge here given their entire roster minus just Versteeg and Meszaros has played in a Game 7.
Buffalo has just seven players who have done it somewhere.
I dont think the advantage is that great, Ruff said. Your veteran experience is what it is. Weve got some youthful enthusiasm that should carry that off.
Thomas Vanek would agree with his coach.
How much an advantage? Ask them, Vanek said. Were not too worried about it. Weve played good on the road all year. We know whats at stake. Well be ready for it ...
Were aware of the pressure, but at the end of the day, you still got to play. Thats all were worried about.
He pointed to the Game 1 and Game 5 victories in Philly as a reason for optimism.
We know we can win there, Vanek said. Going back to the last three months of our season, we were really sharp on the road. This is a place where we feel comfortable.
Sabres goalie Ryan Miller says one thing that needs to change for Buffalo in Game 7 is puck possession. He thinks the Flyers have had possession of the puck a bit too much in the series in front of him.
Now, Derek Roy, who will play tonight after a four-month absence because of a torn quad muscle in his left leg, would agree.
Last game Game 6 was our best offensive match, Roy said. We made some plays. We hit a few posts and missed some empty nets. We have to bear down on those chances, control the play and control the puck around the net. And be confident around that area.
Another issue for Buffalo is the number of leads the Sabres have squandered in this series to give the Flyers life.
We just have to keep scoring, Vanek said. Against a team like Philadelphia, if you just sit back, they are going to exploit you. For us, its just get goals, keep going and build on those.
The fall from grace continues for Michael Leighton.
Leighton, who looked terrible during his brief first-period outing in Game 6, won't be on the bench backing up Boucher tonight.
In fact, he isn't even the Flyers' No. 3 goalie. That spot now belongs to AHL call-up Johan Backlund. Leighton's fallen all the way to fourth. The Flyers' B-B-B trio will be the goalies for Game 7. Sergei Bobrovsky will be Boucher's backup.
Related: Jackson's Five: Key issues for Game 7 Flyers have full confidence in Boucher for Game 7