Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Posted: 5 p.m.
By Tim Panaccio
Ryan Miller stole two games in the Buffalo series with 1-0 shutouts over the Flyers.
Two games into this Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Boston Bruins, weve seen a blowout loss and Tim Thomas stealing a 3-2 overtime win on Monday night in Game 2 with 52 saves.
Flyer fans ask themselves, "Is Brian Boucher capable of doing what Thomas has done and steal a game?"
Anyone who thinks the Flyers, given their injuries, goaltending and power play right now, are capable of spotting the Bruins another victory in Game 3 when the series resumes Wednesday in Boston, needs a reminder these are not the same Bruins of a year ago.
Were gonna go into Boston and were gonna have some fun, coach Peter Laviolette said. We just put our comfortable slippers on. Its time to go in there.
The pressure gets alleviated a bit when youre down 0-3 last year and 0-2 this year. Technically, thats 0-5. Im not sure any team in the history of sports has come back from 0-5. Were just going in there to have fun.
Laviolette wants to spin the series that the pressure is now on Boston not to choke two years in succession.
Boston came back from an 0-2 hole against Montreal in the previous series. So they know anything is possible.
We do know from the way that we were able to come back last series, though, that a 2-0 lead in a series doesnt mean that the series is over, Thomas said. We still have a lot of work in front of us.
As long as we take the same approach one game at a time, one period at a time, one shift at a time, I think thats the right approach. So thats the way we will approach it going forward.
Asked if the Flyers needed him to steal a game, Boucher answered in a round about way, while concealing his injured left hand (dislocated finger) in his pocket.
If we play the way we played in the third period and overtime, I think that will be enough to get a win, he said. The goalie always wants to do his part. You dont know when the moment is going to come when you have to do it.
Its not like, ok we need you to steal one tonight. Thats how it plays out in a game. Sometimes, the goalie is the difference maker. Sometimes he is not a factor. If I can do that I would love to do it.
Laviolette has won a Stanley Cup rotating goalies in Carolina and having Cam Ward steal him some games along the way.
Yet the Flyers coach insists he doesnt need his goalies to steal a game in this series. Unless privately, he feels his goalies cant and wont admit that.
Laviolette says the Flyers' makeup is such that no goalie should have to steal a game because of the supporting cast around him.
Theres no question goaltenders can steal games, Laviolette said. I think Ryan Miller stole two games for Buffalo in the first round. I liked our game better than theirs. If you are being objective, and Im usually pretty honest about it, Boston outplayed us in Game 1.
You go back to that Buffalo series, Ryan Miller played really well and our goaltender did, too. They were both 1-0 losses. But he didnt let it in ...
Certainly we need all of our players to play well. To put that much direction on one player, that is not how we are built. Were built as a team. We have been successful all year as the sum of all parts. To say we dont need good goaltending would not be true. We need good offense and defense and that is how we survive here. We dont do it by one person.
Its unfair to single out a guy and put that much on the goalie. That is not how were built. If it was how we were built, youd certainly think that.
It sounds like hes afraid to admit what most people feel they already know about the Flyers. Since the Flyers didnt get a shutout this season, theyre incapable of stealing games when the chips are down.
Truth is, both Boucher and Sergei Bobrovsky each stole some wins this year, but this is the playoffs and the stakes are higher and nothing so far suggests the Flyers are going to steal a game.
I am not letting anyone off the hook here, including the goaltender, Laviolette said. The goaltender has to play well, as does our defense. There are certain things we can do better. Our power play needs to click. Our penalty kill has to do its job.
Michael Leighton gave the Flyers three shutouts against Montreal last year. None of the shutouts were close. Yet a shutout, frankly, is what the Flyers may need.
While the Flyers have scored 27 goals in the playoffs, they have just 18 on home ice in six games. A 3.0 goals per game average might work with Thomas in net at home, but it wont with the Flyers.
On the road, the Flyers always play better and averaged 3.0 goals a game against Buffalo. Their road average this year was slightly over 3.0.
What were saying here is the Flyers are going to need at least three goals on Thomas every night to have a chance to win.
I know we scored goals the entire season," Laviolette said. Im confident well go to Boston and score goals.
It took team captain Mike Richards eight shots in Game 1 to get his first goal of the playoffs. He had 10 shots in Game 2 and didnt score.
You go over things you want to do in your head, Richards explained. Certain plays that you want to do. I felt if I had another eight shots like I did in Game 1, I would score. I had 10 and didnt. Its frustrating. But if I keep throwing pucks toward the net get another 10 shots tomorrow, one of them will go in.
The first thing the Flyers need to do is shut down David Krejcis line which is piling up points in the series. They have eight points through two games with Krejci getting both game winners.
Theres things we can do better, Laviolette said. Defensively, we can tighten things down a bit. Our guys competed really hard and kept their foot on the gas the whole game. Thats the way it goes sometimes.
You get a bounce, you get a break or you dont thats the playoffs in general. Theres lot of positives to take from the game and move forward.
The Flyers didnt skate Tuesday, but watched some video. No one was happy about blowing a 2-0 lead in the first period, either.
Well thats playoff hockey, Kimmo Timonen said. The lead is never safe. It doesnt matter if its 2-0 or 1-0, thats playoff hockey. Weve seen it around the league, it happens, 3-0 leads and the team comes back.
Obviously, with a 2-0 lead we have to make sure we get the next goal. Obviously, they got a quick two goals and it was a new game. Overall, I thought we played pretty well. We created so many chances to score but couldnt put one in.
To their credit, the Flyers spirits dont seem dampened at this point. That could change if things dont improve in Game 3.
There is a 100 percent belief in here that we can go into Boston and win the next game, Laviolette said. I have no question. I dont think they do.
Theres a lot of guys who have battled through situations and been able to win games. I have no reason to doubt that tomorrow that would be any different.
E-mail Tim Panaccio at email@example.com
Related: Flyers notes: No answer for Krejcis line Greenberg: Flyers desperate for Pronger and Carter