|Flyers looking for final push||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].’
|Julien chooses not to discipline his team||05.13.10 at 4:27 am ET|
PHILADELPHIA — At least publicly, Bruins coach Claude Julien failed to lash out at his team for their 2-1 loss to the Flyers that has forced a seventh and deciding game in the series.
Nor did Julien take issue with Daniel Paille for an elbow penalty that the coach thought – at the very least – was questionable, leading to a Flyers 5-on-3 advantage in the second, and eventually a 4-on-3 power play goal for the Flyers.
‘It’s important, but again not to criticize. It puts us down five on three when they called the elbow,” Julien said. “If you look at the replay he doesn’t even touch him. There’s a space between his arm and the guys face but he puts his head back and the [referee] calls it. Do you blame your players for that? I don’t think so, I think we have to stay on the puck.
“There’s no doubt about that, but I don’t know that we were overly undisciplined. We were the other night [Game 5] and it ended up costing us. Tonight, we had some power plays and we weren’t able to capitalize. We had some opportunities as well, a couple tough penalties, but other than that I thought we were pretty disciplined.’
Paille’s penalty was made even worse because Marc Savard was already serving a penalty. Then to finish the second period, Blake Wheeler takes an even worse penalty for holding with just under 27 seconds left in the period.
Can Julien sense tenseness in his players?
‘It’s a situation where the winner of the game moves on,” the coach said. “Tonight, in the first three minutes of the game they really took it to us, but after that I thought we settled in and played hard. We didn’t probably get enough scoring chances although we had the puck in our end for quite a bit. In the third, we got more scoring chances and hit a few posts; the pucks just weren’t going in for us tonight. I’m not going to criticize my players’ effort.
“I thought we were ready, but somehow we have to find a way to score goals. They had about 30 blocked shots tonight so we shot about 61 shots at the net and 30 of them got blocked so they did a great job at fronting our shots. You have to give them credit for doing that.’
Milan Lucic did finally score in the final 60 seconds of the game, snapping a 134-minute drought for the team. Julien can only hope that momentum carries into Game 7 on home ice.
“It just gave us an opportunity to be in the game and you hope you can go get him a goal soon after,” Julien said of the Lucic goal. “Unfortunately, it was a little too late and we weren’t able to get that last one, but these are things that we’re going to have to find ways to score hopefully earlier and get more scoring chances earlier in the game instead of the third period tonight. If we can do what we did in the third, I think our chances are good.
‘You really wish that line would get rewarded with some goals with the work they put in there. They work so hard, they make good things happen but unfortunately they haven’t been rewarded with the goals and that’s the unfortunate part. I guess everyone on the bench was routing for [Trent Whitfield] to score that goal because he’s been a good soldier for us, he’s been working hard and waiting for his turn to get in there and did a great job to spring himself loose. That would have been a big goal for us.’
|Bruins to ‘embrace challenge’ of Game 7||05.13.10 at 12:53 am ET|
PHILADELPHIA — Sometimes you just have to tell yourself things will be okay in the face of adversity.
The Bruins will spend the next 24 hours preparing themselves and reassuring themselves of the positives – namely win one game on home ice and earn the right to have home ice advantage against the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference finals.
Only minutes after losing their third straight in the series to the Flyers, 2-1, many Bruins attempted to put on a brave face as they now face a do-or-die Game 7 at TD Garden on Friday night.
‘Like my buddy once said, ‘Pressure is five kids, no job.’ This is just fun,” Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said. “Game 7. Enjoy it. Just drink it in as they say.’
Milan Lucic, who scored Boston’s only goal and the first by the Bruins in nearly 135 minutes of play in the series, also attempted to put things in perspective.
“We’re just looking forward to the challenge ahead of us,” Lucic said. “We know it’s going to be an exciting game. I’m not nervous. I think you have to embrace the struggle, embrace the challenge and have fun with it.”
Of course, if the Bruins don’t win, they join the 1942 Detroit Red Wings, the 1975 Pittsburgh Penguins and the 2004 New York Yankees as the only teams in major professional North American sports to blow a 3-0 lead and lose a best-of-seven series.
|2nd Period Summary: Bruins vs. Flyers Game 6||05.12.10 at 9:57 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — Just when it seemed they weathered the first period storm and were gaining momentum and showing discipline, the Bruins had it all come undone in all areas. And it may lead us to where no one thought possible five days earlier – a Game 7 in Boston on Friday – as the Bruins trail 2-0 after two periods.
Daniel Briere scored on a 4-on-3 power play with 3:40 left in the second period as Marc Savard and Daniel Paille took penalties within 30 seconds of each other. The Bruins appeared to catch a break when Chris Pronger was called for a questionable interference penalty in front of Rask.
But on the 4-on-3, Briere came down the right wing and fired a shot toward the right shoulder of Rask. The puck glanced off his chest and past him for a two-goal Flyers lead heading into the third period.
In the first 10 minutes of the period, Rask single-handedly kept the Bruins in the game as he made big saves on Mike Richards and Simon Gagne midway through the period.
Making matters worse, Blake Wheeler took a penalty in the final 20 seconds of the period and the Flyers will start the third period with a power play for 94 seconds.
What makes the last five minutes of the third so disappointing is that the Bruins were showing offensive life, thanks to good skating and deep puck movement by the likes of Satan, Savard and Lucic. It finally result in a power play chance when Braydon Coburn was whistled for hooking at 13:26. But Claude Giroux and Mike Richards were aggressive on the kill and the Bruins got only three looks at Michael Leighton before it expired.
|1st Period Summary: Bruins vs. Flyers Game 6||05.12.10 at 8:45 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — From well before the opening face-off, this game in Philadelphia had a far different feel – in terms of energy in the building – than the previous two. The Flyers capitalized on the early momentum by taking a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
And the Wachovia Center crowd, fired up by video board inspiration from Vince Lombardi, Winston Churchill and graphics that screamed in bold letters, “WE WILL MAKE HISTORY,” had plenty to cheer early on. The Flyers applied pressure in their opening three shifts.
The Flyers rewarded their fans when Mike Richards netted a loose rebound in front of Tuukka Rask at 6:58 of the first period. As he has been since returning to the lineup, Simon Gagne was again the difference-maker, starting the play by putting a quick backhander on Rask that the Bruins goalie could not control.
The Flyers then had a chance to go up two on the first power play of the game. But it was the Bruins who nearly tied it when Trent Whitfield intercepted a pass at the Boston blue line and skated in on Michael Leighton. The Flyers goalie replacing Brian Boucher came up with his biggest save of the season, stoning Whitfield and keeping it, 1-0.
The only bigger save for Philly this season came on the same end of the same sheet of ice on the last day of the regular season when Boucher stopped Olli Jokinen of the Rangers in a shoot-out to send the Flyers to the playoffs.
The Bruins, with Zdeno Chara pinching in deep as he did during the season when the Bruins were searching for offense, applied good pressure in the final three minutes but still couldn’t break Leighton.
The Bruins, with the late rush, outshot the Flyers, 9-8.
|B’s getting defensive about tonight||05.12.10 at 1:24 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — While Zdeno Chara wears the ‘C’ as captain, Mark Stuart’s return has been a steadying influence in the Bruins dressing room.
He missed the last two weeks of the regular season with an infection following surgery on his pinkie. And then he missed the opening round against Buffalo and the first three games against the Flyers. When he finally returned in Game 4 of this series against the Flyers, a quiet leader had returned to the Bruins dressing room.
That leadership was on full display on Wednesday morning when asked if he and his fellow defensemen need to get more offensive pressure on just-returning Flyers goalie Michael Leighton after getting just two shots on net in Monday’s 4-0 loss.
“Obviously, we want to get as many shots as we can,” Stuart said. “We didn’t do a great job of that last game. Tonight’s a new night here. If we can just forget about last game and quit talking about it and go play tonight.”
“Anybody who’s been out for a long time, it just doesn’t come back overnight,” Julien added. “What you need to see is a guy getting better and better and I think Mark was better in the second game than he was in the first and hopefully he’ll be better in the third than he was in the second so it’s like every player that comes back, you hope that they get better as they move on here.
“Mark, to me, was a much better player than he was in the first and hopefully, that continues.”
Just as obvious to the Bruins is the mission at hand tonight. They are hoping to avoid the pressure of a do-or-die Game 7 back in Boston on Friday night by beat the Philadelphia Flyers tonight at the Wachovia Center. The Bruins now lead the series, 3-2, after dropping the last two games while the Flyers have gained momentum with star Simon Gagne back in the lineup.
Stuart is not the only defenseman looking to pick up his game after not getting a shot on net. Matt Hunwick was also blanked on the shot chart.
“I think we just need to relax a little bit more and not hold the stick too tight and just play how we played the first three games,” Hunwick said. “We battled the first three games. They were tight, they were close but we found ways to win. I think we can look back on those efforts and we should do a little bit better tonight.”
As for the Bruins getting together for Kumbaya, Unbuntu or any other team-building the night before Game 6, Julien said there was no need.
“I don’t think there was anything special [Tuesday] night. We didn’t do a team dinner but I think our guys, in order to have success, we can’t be tense,” Julien said following this morning’s optional pre-game skate at the Wachovia Center. “Being relaxed is maybe not even the right word but in the right frame of mind and hopefully that’s what we show tonight when we start the game.”
The Flyers can become the first NHL team since 1976 to force a Game 7 after being down 3-0 with a win on home ice tonight and are looking to become the fourth major pro sports team to win a series after being in a 3-0 hole.
‘We haven’t talked about it much,’ admitted Flyers coach Peter Laviolette Wednesday. ‘Certainly everybody understands the difficult challenge that an 0-3 series presents. That’s part of the story you write through the course of the playoffs if you’re able to get through it, it’s part of the story. Our guys are well aware of it. Certainly they know not many teams get an opportunity at something like this. Any time you can put your name to a positive mark in history like that, it certainly would be a good thing.’
For the Flyers, head coach Peter Laviolette indicated that forward Claude Giroux would be ready for Game 6 after being held out of the third period on Monday after a hit to the boards from Steve Begin.
|Buckle down or buckle under for B’s||05.11.10 at 2:19 pm ET|
For the first three games of the series, the Bruins showed exactly what it takes to win playoff hockey games. Make the key play at the key moment while keeping your cool.
It paid off in Game 1 when the Flyers scored twice in the final eight minutes to force overtime. It paid off in Game 2 when Milan Lucic turned and fired a shot on an unsuspecting Brian Boucher for the game-winner. And it paid off in Game 3 when the Flyers scored to open the game in their building, only to have the Bruins score twice in the next five minutes to take command and not look back.
But all of a sudden, it’s the Flyers who have found the magic touch. They were the ones who were scored on in the final 31 seconds of regulation in Game 4 with the series on the line, only to net the game-winner off the stick of Simon Gagne in overtime.
Then Monday night, the Flyers scored in the opening seven minutes and got some lucky bounces to hold on to the lead while the Bruins were taking penalty after penalty, sapping them of any strength to come back as the Flyers prevailed, 4-0.
Now, with the Bruins’ lead down to 3-2, the stage is set for Game 6 in Philadelphia Wednesday night at 8 p.m. at the Wachovia Center.
“It’s buckling down and playing good hockey,” Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference said. “You know, both games that they’ve won now have been very deserved wins, so that’s what you’re going to get this time of this year. You’re not just going to show up, sneak by anybody, and get an easy win. I mean, the team that plays the best hockey will most of the time end up with a win, and that’s what’s happened.”
And if they don’t take care of business and ‘buckle down’ on Wednesday on Broad Street? Get ready to hear all about the about the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, the 1975 New York Islanders and, of course, the 2004 Red Sox. They are the three teams that have come back in major professional sports from 3-0 deficits to win a best-of-seven playoff series.
Ference says the Bruins would be well advised to just take a deep breath.
“I think a lot of the breakdowns, going back early, was not making good plays, you know, good breakouts and good passes, and you know, just calming down and making good plays,” he said. “I mean, it’s something that when you do it well from us to the forwards, it makes us a much better team, But you know, we started turning over a lot of pucks and creating a lot of problems for ourselves on top of what they were creating themselves, so they played well and we also hurt ourselves by some of the stuff we did.”
This series started with the Flyers missing Simon Gagne, Jeff Carter and Ian Laperriere. But as hockey fate would have it, the Bruins lost Marco Sturm in Game 1 and David Krejci in Game 3 while the Flyers got Gagne back in Game 4 and could have Carter back for a Game 7 Friday in Boston.
“Of course we miss him,” Ference said of Krejci. “He’s a great player ‘ just as much as we missed Savvy [Marc Savard], and just as much as we missed Marco [Sturm] and Bergy [Patrice Bergeron]. You know, we’ve had great players for extended periods before and he’s left out of the lineup, but tough luck.
“That’s just the way it works and some other guys have to step up, so you know, the good teams that have won in the past, that’s always a storyline ‘ you know guys step into increased ice time and increased roles and make the most of it, so obviously that has to be a storyline for us if we’re going to have any success is somebody or a few guys stepping up and you know, trying to fill some of those points and fill some of those plays and that energy that he brings.”
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