Just two games into the opening round of the 2011 playoffs, we've already had plenty to dissect and discuss. Fortunately, despite being shut out in game 1 and having the starting goalie chased in game 2, the Flyers appear to in a decent place as the series moves to Buffalo.
After being shut out, they came right at Ryan Miller on Saturday, with the goalie seemingly upset at the activity in and around his crease on a few occasions. I don't know that that's what led to his allowing five goals, but it certainly didn't hurt. We'll be looking for more of the same tonight, hopefully to similar effect.
Brian Boucher takes the reins in net for the Flyers after confidently shutting down the Sabres for 46 minutes on Saturday. We know he's capable of winning some playoff games and series, but we've also seen Boosh come up small on occasion. He's now in a career- and legacy-defining scenario, and seemingly very confident. He'll need to be pretty good in order to keep the Flyers moving in the right direction in this series, and a win to open the Buffalo set would be huge.
Nik Zherdev also has a big night ahead of him, provided he gets some minutes. His previous playoff resume is abysmal, but limited in sample size to one postseason with the Rangers. This is a guy very much playing for his next contract though, and with Andreas Nodl sidelined, he has an opportunity to make his mark on a prominent stage. Danny Briere has seen some great success in Buffalo, both as a Sabre and against them. Hopefully his former home crowd will boo and remind him why they're mad he left. JVR and Giroux are off to a good start this series, and the scoring depth for the moment looks as it should.
I liked the intensity I saw in most of both of the first two games, and I think we'll get more of that tonight. The Flyers should know they are the better team, and hopefully they'll sense the blood in the water and attack rather than lay back. Buffalo may not be known for much other than losing Super Bowls and chicken wings (two things we know a little about here as well), but HSBC Arena is once again an explosive place to see some hockey. Those fans will be ready tonight, and the Flyers will definitely be in hostile territory. Fortunately, they've shown they can play in opposing barns, earning the top road record in the Eastern Conference this regular season.
Huge night for the Orange & Black. Any predictions? Standout Stars?