|05.14.10 at 1:41 pm ET|
So the Philadelphia Flyers enter tonight’s Game 7 trying to become the first team since the 1975 New York Islanders to win a Stanley Cup series after trailing, 3-0. They did so in the Stanley Cup quarterfinals against Pittsburgh.
What many may not recall is they were incredibly on the verge of doing it in back-to-back series when they played the defending Stanley Cup champion Flyers in the next round.
The Flyers led, 3-0, only to have the Islanders – featuring a young goalie named Billy Smith and a defenseman by the name of Dennis Potvin – battle back to tie the series and send it to Game 7 in Philly. Kate Smith and Bernie Parent saved the Flyers in that contest and the Flyers went on to win the Stanley Cup over Buffalo in six games.
The second part is the kind of history the Bruins are hoping to repeat tonight.
Still, it seems no one knows what to expect in terms of an outcome, only that it will be a battle.
“I would certainly think that way,” Laviolette said. “You got two teams that are pushed to the edge now. Boston’s going to show up and play hard, and we have to do the same thing. It’s going to be a great hockey game.’
What Laviolette mentioned several times following his team’s Game 6 win was the need to pick up the intensity for Game 7 on the road.
‘The face-offs weren’t great, as the game wore on the chances seemed to be in their favor,” Laviolette said. “They were quicker to the pucks, a little stronger in their battles. You know we are going to have to be better in Boston. We are going to have to play a game with a little more intensity than [Wednesday].’
|05.14.10 at 12:50 pm ET|
The Flyers had a light, optional morning skate before Friday night’s Game 7 against the Bruins in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette insisted that nothing changes for his team heading into the biggest game of the season and that they are used to the pressure that this point playing “our fifth Game 7,” referring to the string of elimination games the Flyers have faced in coming back from a three games to none series deficit to force the ultimate game at TD Garden.
“We are in a familiar spot. It really is our fifth time that we have been faced with elimination and we are ready for this. The message hasn’t changed since Day 1 since I have been here to right now,” Laviolette said. “Everything stays the same, the meetings stay the same, the message is the same. What is expected is the same. It is important that we go our and do what we have been doing because, since Christmas time is has brought us a lot of success.”
Laviolette stressed that to win Game 7 the Flyers will need to have a good team effort in addition to the continued solid play of their stars like Chris Pronger, Mike Richards and Danny Briere. Pronger is a +1 with six points for the series, Briere is +2 with four goals and four assists and Richards has three goals and five assists at a -1.
“I feel like we are still here today because of what is in our room. A guy like Chris Pronger, not only has he proven it in the past, like you are talking about, but he has proven it already here,” Laviolette said. “Our team has been in survival mode. Mike Richards, a guy like Danny Briere steps up. Chris Pronger has played all those minutes. Guys who have proven they can get there and handle the pressure of an elimination game and not only handle it but excel in it.”
Yet, through the last three games some of the “grittier” player on the Flyers have stepped up such as Ville Leino (two goals and an assist) and Scott Hartnell (goal and an assist) who are a combined +7 as Philadelphia has made its comeback in the last three games.
“This morning we talked about how our entire team needs to be successful,” Laviolette said. “We rely on each other and it will be a team effort. If we go out and play the way we need to play to be sucessful tonight then the thing we will be talking about tomorrow morning is ‘what a terrific team effort that was.’ That is how we will find success tonight. It won’t be because of one player. Somebody has to score the winning goal. Somebody has to make the big save or block a big shot but in the end our best chance of success is through our entire group, the gritty guys.”
In the end, the question remains the same for these Flyers and Laviolette summed it up best when talking about the approach that Philadelphia has taken to force the deciding Game 7.
“We really methodically went very slow. One game. Game 4 and here we are at Game 7 and the question still remains the same ‘do we think we can beat the Boston Bruins tonight?'” Laviolette said. “And, there is a belief in our room that our team is a good hockey team and we can win.”
|05.14.10 at 11:43 am ET|
On the morning of the biggest game of the season, Bruins coach Claude Julien decided to let his players have the morning off as opposed to coming to TD Garden for a morning skate prior to Game 7 against the Flyers on Friday night. Julien said that since the Bruins had a late night in Philadelphia on Wednesday and practiced at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington on Thursday, that it was appropriate to give his players the day to rest.
“First thing that I think you have to remember is that we had a late game the other night and didn’t get in until the morning. We practiced yesterday and did all the things that we needed to do to prepare for tonight. So, give our guys an opportunity to get some rest, simple as that,” Julien said. “We have done it before, sometimes in back-to-backs. Stay home and come to the rink. That was our idea behind this is that our guys need to rest and basically we have played these guys or we are going to play these guys seven times in a row. There is not much we don’t already know about the other team. So, come ready to play.”
It is the first time of the playoffs that the Bruins have completely skipped the morning skate through they have had optional skates and days off between games where only players receiving treatment have been required to report.
“Both teams are going to be reay,” Julien said. “Anytime you play a Game 7 where the winner moves on you have to be ready. For us it is a matter of not bogging them down with what has happened the last few games but focus on what we have to do tonight. The bottom line is, if you win tonight you move on and that is forgotten. But that is what we have got to do here is stay focused and stay prepared and I think that our guys are up to the task.”
As per usual, Julien declined to give any indication of what his roster would look like on Friday night but there was speculation after practice on Thursday that rookie center/forward Brad Marchand might get into the game after dressing in a grey practice sweater, normally reserved for the second line, as opposed to a red sweater that indicates the checking line and “fifth” line.
“Big players have to come up big in big games but at the same time I have also seen unsung heroes do that same thing,” Julien said in response to how Zdeno Chara could play on Friday. “In those kind of games you go in there and hope that somebody will make a difference and I don’t care if it is your best players or your role players. I just care that somebody comes up big and does something good for us and that is what you try to challenge your whole team to do. If you challenge only your key players then you are telling your other players you don’t care what they do. You want everybody to be difference makers, or go in with that intent anyway.”
|05.13.10 at 4:13 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Mike Milbury talked with Dale & Holley Wednesday morning about the Flyers rallying to win three games to even up the second-round series against the Bruins.
‘It was a surprise to me that it was 3-0,’ Milbury said. ‘It was great for Boston that they were a overtime goal away from taking the thing, but it doesn’t surprise me that Philadelphia has now come back to even the series.’
Milbury also talked about Montreal’s impressive run through the playoffs over favorites Washington and Pittsburgh.
Below is a transcript. Visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page to hear the interview.
The Bruins had a 3-0 lead, they’re now tied 3-3, what happened?
Put this in the perspective. Remember in late February after we came off the break and into March, people were saying such things as decapitate [Dennis] Wideman, fire the coach, they suck and they’re never going anywhere, right? Now all of a sudden they find themselves in a pretty good matchup against Buffalo and they get the job done and show some good resiliency. Then they meet Philadelphia, who’s lucky to be in the dance, and the surprise for me is that Boston was up 3-0 in the first place.
If you go through this matchup by position, Tuukka Rask is really the better goaltender than whatever Philadelphia is throwing at you, but keep in mind that [Michael] Leighton was pretty good when he was healthy. It was the first time showing signs that he might actually be a No. 1 goalie, but clearly the edge goes to Boston.
On defense, I heard you guys talking about this earlier, I have to give the edge to Philadelphia. If you just cross out [Chris] Pronger vs. [Zdeno] Chara, you’ve got [Matt] Carle, which I think we both agree he’s had a great series, and [Dennis] Wideman, who’s played pretty well except has had some unfortunate moments that he’s prone to with brain crampage, but he’s still been pretty good in the playoffs. Read the rest of this entry »
|05.13.10 at 3:48 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins are about to play in their 19th Game 7 in team history on Friday night against the Flyers. It will be the 15th Game 7 on home ice and the second time they have been taken to a Game 7 after leading a series three games to none (1939 against the Rangers was the last time). It is the fourth time they have been taken to a Game 7 after holding a three games to one advantage (1939 Rangers, 1992 Sabres, 2004 Canadiens).
The Bruins hold a 9-9 record overall in Game 7s and are 9-5 at home. They are 2-2 when the game is decided in overtime, such as last season in the semifinals against Carolina. The Bruins have lost three straight Game 7s after winning their previous six and this will be the first time they face the Flyers in an ultimate game.
Coach Claude Julien is 1-2 lifetime in Game 7s while Flyers coach Peter Laviolette is 2-1. Julien’s lone win came over the Bruins when he was the coach of Montreal in 2004. Steve Begin (2-0), Mark Recchi (4-3) and Dennis Seidenberg (2-1) are the only Bruins players to have winning records in Game 7s while captain Zdeno Chara is 0-4.
The Flyers will be playing their 14th Game 7 and their sixth on the road where they are 2-3 in their history. This is the first time they have forced a Game 7 after being down three games to none or one. Philadelphia is 7-6 all-time in ultimate games. Chris Pronger has a 1-5 record in Game 7s, Simon Gagne is 1-2 and Ian Lapiererre is 0-3.
Thursday quote — From Brad Marchand, who wore a grey practice sweater and may be in the game for the Bruins tomorrow night:
“It is definitely harder watching. You want to go out and help as much as you can. I would be very happy, very excited. I have been staying in shape and stuff and if I get the call, I will be ready,” Marchand said.
Marchand was asked if he could play the pesky, instigating role that he showed at times during the regular season.
“Well, you know, it is always part of the playoffs. The trouble with that is that sometimes you get dumb penalties and I know that is something we want to stay away from. We kind of let them do that and not focus on that tomorrow. We just want to play our game and if we do that we will be better off,” Marchand said.
|05.13.10 at 1:28 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — What does a team do that has lost three straight games and is on the wrong end of making hockey history do before the biggest game of the year?
Sleep in, practice late and tweak the lines.
The Bruins practiced at Ristuccia Arena at 1 p.m. after announcing that that they would “arrive” at the rink at noon. When they did show up Blake Wheeler was wearing an unfamiliar sweater color — yellow — that he has not worn all year indicating that be would at least be practicing with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi on Thursday. Daniel Paille was bumped to the grey sweaters with Vladimir Sobotka and Michael Ryder and, oddly enough, Brad Marchand. The white and red sweaters remained unchanged with Marc Savard, Milan Lucic and Miroslav Satan on the top line and Trent Whitfield, Steve Begin and Shawn Thornton fill out the checking line.
Adam McQuaid was also present for the full team practice to round out a full squad of defensemen with Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk, Dennis Wideman, Matt Hunwick, Mark Stuart and Andrew Ference. The Black Aces on the blue line were also present with Andrew Bodnarchuk, Jeffrey Penner and And Wozniewski.
|05.13.10 at 12:40 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley was on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to talk about the Bruins and their Stanley Cup playoff series with the Flyers that will go the full seven games after Philadelphia captured Game 6 by a 2-1 score Wednesday night. He said that the Bruins have a tall task ahead of them if they are to keep the Flyers from becoming just the fourth team in North American professional sports history to win a seven-game series after losing the first three games.
‘With that kind of talent up front and the four big guys that can really skate with the puck on the back end, this is a pretty good Flyers team,’ he said. ‘The Bruins, they have to get pucks to the net. They have to get bodies to the net. They have to be physical. Hence, their only chance, and in all probability, if they’re going to win Game 7, it’s going to have to be 1-0, 2-1, that kind of score.’
A transcript follows. You can listen to the interview by visiting the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
You’ve had about 10 hours to digest what’s happening to the Bruins. What are we watching here? Are we watching a team choking away a series or are we watching a team that just doesn’t have enough offensive bullets in the gun?
I think it’s the latter. I hate to think that it’s about choking. I think they did not play well obviously in Game 5, so coming into last night’s game, you wanted to make sure that this was a team that played like they wanted the series to end. They wanted to play with that desperation, that urgency, all the catchphrases that you hear, and where was their compete level and all that stuff. I think they played pretty hard, and I thought they played very smart and I think the fact that they just can’t score goals right now is the reason that the Flyers have been able to come back.
It’s not the only reason. Philadelphia getting [Simon] Gagne back has really created a nice three-line formation for them where they’re strong down the middle with [Mike] Richards, [Danny] Briere and [Claude] Giroux. If they can roll three lines, that means they’re going to get the edge in matchups because the Bruins, they try to play their entire roster, but with that kind of talent up front and the four big guys that can really skate with the puck on the back end, this is a pretty good Flyers team. The Bruins, they have to get pucks to the net. They have to get bodies to the net. They have to be physical. Hence, their only chance, and in all probability, if they’re going to win Game 7, it’s going to have to be 1-0, 2-1, that kind of score.
You’ve seen every minute of these six games, Andy. On the whole, who’s better?
I think it’s an even match, to be honest with you. I really do. Take a look at all the games. I mean, Philadelphia won their one game 4-0. Boston won their other game 4-1. Other than that, the other games could have gone either way. Plain and simple. Read the rest of this entry »