|Tonight won’t be any ordinary God Bless America in Philadelphia||05.02.11 at 1:28 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — From the first moment Kate Smith‘s rendition of “God Bless America” replaced the national anthem at a Flyers’ home game on Dec. 11, 1969, the song has sent chills up the spines of everyone in attendance.
Tonight, it will reach a whole new level – and meaning – altogether. And, all of America and the world will be watching. With the news of Osama bin Laden‘s execution on Sunday night, Americans have been celebrating the news with the pledge of allegiance and singing “God Bless America.”
The Flyers still show a video of Smith – who died in 1986 – singing “God Bless America” in lieu of “The Star Spangled Banner” for good luck before important games. The video of her performance is now accompanied by Lauren Hart, daughter of the late Hockey Hall of Fame broadcaster, Gene Hart, the longtime voice of the Flyers.
Bruins coach Claude Julien is more than aware of what the atmosphere will be in the building come 7:30, in the moments before faceoff.
“That’s something that went though my mind this morning, no doubt about that,” Julien said. “When something major like that happens, I guess all the attention is drawn that way but our guys this morning seemed fine. In the morning skate, I like their focus, I liked everything else.
“There’s two teams. If one team’s going through it, I’m sure the other one is as well. I think our guys are very professional and capable of separating the things that are important when the time comes. Everybody was obviously very interested in hearing what’s happened in the last little while with that but at the same time, it’s important to be ready for the game and I think the guys understand that.”
The Flyers understand it, too, and may be under greater pressure to balance energy with emotion, especially at the start.
‘The fans and the atmosphere should be great for that part of the game,’ Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk told WEEI.com’s D.J. Bean. ‘It’s a proud day in our history, you could say now, is the day that this guy was brought to justice. At that point last night, I know hockey was put on the back burner for a second there when you kind of think of all the things that have been affected and all the people close to you that maybe lost someone. It’s obviously a good thing that all this came to justice last night.’
Bruins fans old enough to remember recall another special day when Smith performed in person.
Smith was called in to the Spectrum in front of a capacity crowd of 17,007 fans before Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals on May 19, 1974. That’s when B’s captain Phil Esposito infamously tried to jinx the Flyers’ good luck charm by presenting her with a bouquet of roses after her performance. It didn’t work. Bernie Parent blanked Espo, Bobby Orr and the B’s, 1-0, for the first of two straight Stanley Cups.
Including Saturday’s loss to the Bruins, the Flyers are 95-27-4 when trotting out the old standby.
So tonight, just before faceoff, turn up the TV and listen for Flyers public address announcer Lou Nolan to say, “Ladies and gentlemen, at this time, we ask that you please rise and remove your hats and salute to our flags and welcome the number 1 ranked anthemist in the NHL, Lauren Hart, as she sings God Bless America, accompanied by the great Kate Smith.”
And good luck hearing the duet from there.
|Brian Boucher back in net for Flyers in Game 2, Chris Pronger a game-time decision vs. Bruins||05.02.11 at 11:39 am ET|
PHILADELPHIA — After allowing five goals on just 23 shots in Game 1 Saturday, Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette announced Monday morning that Brian Boucher will get a second chance and will start Game 2 tonight against the Bruins at Wells Fargo Center.
“Brian will go back in net today,” Laviolette announced after the Flyers pregame skate at Wells Fargo. “Today is a game, for me, where we all get to go back in there and right some wrongs so, everybody gets an opportunity. He’s deserves it.”
The Flyers have been in crisis mode with their goaltending in the playoffs so far, with Laviolette changing goalies midgame already four times in the first eight playoffs games, and six times in their last 14 postseason games, dating back to last year’s Stanley Cup finals against the Blackhawks.
On Saturday, after yielding the fifth goal in the second period, Laviolette turned to rookie Sergei Bobrovsky, who allowed two goals in the third period of Boston’s 7-3 romp that put the Bruins up, 1-0, in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Flyers could be without two of their top players tonight as defenseman Chris Pronger and forward Jeff Carter both missed the morning skate. Pronger came back late in the first round after dealing with a broken hand while Carter injured his knee during the Sabres series and hasn’t returned.
|Peter Laviolette won’t take another shot at Brian Boucher||04.30.11 at 8:56 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — Flyers coach Peter Laviolette did something after his team’s 7-3 humiliation at the hands of the Bruins that his forwards and defensemen failed to do. He came to the aid of Brian Boucher.
For the fourth time in the last eight playoff games, Laviolette has resorted to the desperate move of pulling a goalie. That isn’t stunning. That is downright shocking for a team with Stanley Cup aspirations. Is he concerned that he’s had to do it so often?
‘Certainly you don’t want to do that but tonight I think that just based on the way we played in front of our goaltender, we as a team deserve all of the responsibility as far as that goes,” Laviolette said. “But, it certainly is not where you want to be.”
So what was the coverage problem? Was it being out of position, or effort in front of the net?
‘I’d say it was a combination of both,’ he said. “It wasn’t very good tonight, the defensive play. Especially, you know, right in front of our goaltender. Too many easy goals, too many easy plays, we weren’t strong enough right in front of our goaltender.’
The Flyers were coming off a 5-2 win over the Sabres in Game 7 Tuesday night and seemed to have rediscovered their mojo a bit – the same feeling that had them sitting on top of the Eastern Conference for most of the season until a late-season swoon that dropped them to second in the standings.
‘Well we weren’t very good tonight, you know,” Laviolette. “We come off one of our strongest performances in a while, come out and you know we don’t have a good game. That was not the way we need to play in order to be successful, so there’s lots of things that can change; actually everything’s got to change, everything’s got to improve. So, we’ll work on that.’
The Flyers will have Sunday to figure it out. But if the Flyers don’t bring it with more intensity Monday night, the Bruins – including David Krejci will roll over them again.
Laviolette knows this. That’s why when he was asked after the game what made Krejci’s line so successful, he had a short but fair answer.
‘Most of their lines had success against us,’ Laviolette said, before thanking everyone for showing up. He hopes his players do Monday night.
|David Krejci gets last laugh on the Flyers in Game 1||04.30.11 at 8:21 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — Maybe trash talking is all it took for David Krejci to rediscover his playoff mojo. That, and some really bad defense and goaltending.
While the Flyers were playing atrocious defense in front of Brian Boucher, they were also letting their big mouths do some talking, so said the Bruins forward, who got the scoring underway less than two minutes into Game 1 Saturday.
Krejci said the Flyers were reminding him that the last time he was in Philadelphia for a playoff game, he suffered an injury that changed the momentum of the series.
Krejci broke his wrist in Game 3 of the series last year, a game the Bruins won, 4-1. But Boston lost its top center – and momentum – as the Flyers came back to win four straight.
“The guys from the other team, they let me know in the first period about last year,” Krejci said. “But I tried to forget about those things. This is a new year, new season, new series. We have so many new players on our team. Half of the guys didn’t even experience it last year so we didn’t talk about it that much.
“This is a new season and we were just focused for tonight’s game.”
Krejci – who scored twice and added an assist in Saturday’s 7-3 romp over the Flyers- said he wasn’t thrown off by the comments.
“There was yapping back and forth, so they kind of let me know but you have stay focused and I think that’s what we did,” Krejci said.
But certainly the temptation is to think what might have been for all Bruins players, coaches, management, equipment personnel and anyone else who follows the spoked-B. If Krejci doesn’t take that hit at center ice, most believe the Bruins dispatch of the Flyers and it’s the B’s – not Philly – in the Cup finals against Chicago.
Was the thought in Krecji’s head and did it motivate him to come out and have a strong game in the opener?
‘I try not to think about what happened last year but it’s in the back of my head,” Krejci said. “You don’t forget these things that often but I try not to think about it almost at all. It’s hard but I just try to stay focused for the game and my teammates helped me out today.’
The first shot Krejci took – the first shot any Bruin took – resulted in a goal on a shaken Boucher just 1:52 into the game.
Read the rest of this entry »
|Johnny Boychuk hints at the biggest challenge vs. the Flyers||04.30.11 at 2:18 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — The Bruins were fortunate to survive the Canadiens in the opening round and they know it will only get harder from here.
The biggest difference for the B’s will come in containing Philadelphia’s potent offense, which led the Eastern Conference with 259 goals, third overall in the NHL behind the Canucks (262) and the Red Wings (261).
“Last series it was two good lines. This series it’s three.” Defenseman Johnny Boychuk said just two hours before Game 1.
To Boychuk’s point, the Flyers have two 30-goal scorers in Jeff Carter and Danny Briere. The have five more who have scored at least 20, and Ville Leino who scored 19 and kept the Flyers’ season alive with an OT goal against the Sabres in Game 6 in Buffalo.
That’s where the top concern – and emphasis – will be for the Bruins. The fact that the Flyers are a physical team and create chances from a big forecheck helps the B’s, according to Boychuk.
“I think it’s the similar style. For me personally, when you’re playing a physical team, that brings the best out of all the players and it’s the same style we like to play. So, it should be a great series for that.”
The Flyers can roll out three high-quality lines led by centers Carter and captain Mike Richards. The Bruins might be catching a break as Carter is nursing a right knee injury from Game 4 in the first round.
|Claude Julien: We don’t need to change ‘a ton’ for the Flyers||04.29.11 at 2:06 pm ET|
Before the team left Boston for Philadelphia Friday, Bruins head coach Claude Julien said the Flyers are a better match up for his team than the Canadiens were in the first round. The Bruins captured three of the four meetings in the regular season and were even able to score on the power play four times, something they failed to do in 21 tries in the opening round.
“We match up well against them and they’re always close in tight games and we got to go in there with some confidence and obviously some determination,” Julien said. “Playoffs is a different situation than the regular season, but again as I mentioned it’s just one of those things that we feel that we don’t have to change a ton of things. And if there’s adjustments to make along the way, we just have to be prepared to make them.”
The Flyers, however, did not have big defenseman Chris Pronger at their disposal in the last meeting on March 27 in Philadelphia as he was still healing from the effects of a broken hand.
“He’s an experienced guy, a guy who has got good size as well and has got a good shot,” Julien said. “I know he certainly hadn’t used it much when he’s come back now. Whether he’s 100 percent, we don’t know, and it really shouldn’t matter to us.
“But he’s been a big part of their power play and when you get a guy like that back, it’s no doubt that it’s a boost for their hockey club and certainly helps. So we’ve just got to continue I guess playing the way we have been against them for most of the year this year. I thought we played them well and we came out with three wins, and I think we had the overtime loss.”
The Bruins’ only loss to the Flyers came with three seconds left in overtime on Dec. 11 at TD Garden when Mike Richards beat Tim Thomas with a wrist shot. The Bruins also showed they can win all sorts of games against Philly, 3-0, in Philly on Dec. 1, 7-5 in a Garden shootout on Jan. 13 and 2-1 on Brad Marchand’s goal late on March 27. The Bruins also appear to have the clear advantage in goal with Thomas starting all seven games of their series against Montreal while Brian Boucher was one of three different Philadelphia netminders to see action against Buffalo. Read the rest of this entry »
|Shawn Thornton laughs off 2010 comparisons, sort of||04.29.11 at 12:38 pm ET|
Following their final practice Friday morning at TD Garden, the Bruins packed their bags and headed for Philadelphia and Saturday’s Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals with the Flyers. But before departing, the Bruins addressed the media and spoke of their thoughts on the even of the playoff rematch with the team that came from 3-0 down in the series and Game 7 to eliminate them last spring.
‘You think if I answer this question right now, I won’t have to answer it the rest of the series? Promise?” Shawn Thornton said with a smile, before adding, “For some of the guys, obviously, here last year, it should be a little bit of motivating tool and a learning lesson. But that being said, last year was last year, this year is this year. Half the team has been turned over. We’ve brought in some great people.
“So, it’s a whole new year. They have new players, we have new players. It doesn’t really have a factor on this year’s series, except for the fact we haven’t forgotten about it because you guys remind us day in and day out, and I’m sure you will for the next two weeks.’
“It’s always a new situation, a new opportunity, and that’s how we’re looking at it,” added coach Claude Julien. “Just a new opportunity for us to get past these guys and hopefully, win this series.”
Game 1 is 3 p.m. on Saturday with Tim Thomas in net for the Bruins and Brian Boucher expected to get the call for the Flyers. Game 2 is Monday night, also at Wells Fargo Center before the series shifts to Boston next Wednesday and Friday for Games 3 and 4.