|Flyers run out of time and luck||06.10.10 at 1:28 am ET|
PHILADELPHIA — The team of destiny that made history in Boston went to the well once too often in overtime and it finally cost the Flyers their Stanley Cup dreams. Chicago’s Patrick Kane scored on a bizarre goal that few people in the building even realized went in just over four minutes into overtime and the Blackhawks claimed their fourth Stanley Cup with a 4-3 win over Philadelphia at the Wachovia Center in Game 6.
The Flyers had to get a stop from Brian Boucher on the last day of the regular season to beat the New York Rangers, 2-1, in a shootout to qualify for the playoffs.
They entered as a No. 7 seed in the East and dispatched of Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils in Round 1 in five games.
They then matched up against the No. 6 Bruins, and no one in New England needs to be reminded that — up three games to none and 3-0 in Game 7 on Garden ice — the Bruins let the Flyers come back to tie and win Game 7 and the series, 4-3, on a power-play goal by Simon Gagne with the Bruins serving a penalty for too many men on the ice.
It was in Game 4 in overtime when Gagne scored his first goal back from injury to re-ignite the flame for the Flyers.
Three wins later it was the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern finals. The Habs proved little opposition for the Flyers, who prevailed in five games.
Then the Chicago Blackhawks. The team that hadn’t won the Stanley Cup since 1961 won a shootout, 6-5, in Game 1 and another one-goal game in Game 2, 2-1.
The Flyers showed their character by winning Game 3 again in overtime and handling Chicago 5-3 in Game 4. After a 7-4 loss in Game 5 the Flyers were again on the brink, down 3-2 with 3:59 left in regulation when Scott Hartnell scored to force — yep — another overtime.
This extra session would be the heartbreak of heartbreaks for the Flyers. A weak shot from Patrick Kane, almost an afterthought, was thrown on Michael Leighton. The goalie didn’t see it until it went under him and the lip of the goal on the right side.
“He walked out of the corner, and there was a guy driving the net so I thought he was going to pass it,” Leighton said. “He just threw it at the net and it went underneath me.”
Bang. Game over. Stanley Cup over. Team of Destiny denied.
But still, this Flyers team will have its fondest memories of one of the most remarkable playoff run in recent sports rooted in Boston.
It was at TD Garden on May 14 that the Flyers became just the fourth team in major professional sports to wipe out a 3-0 deficit and win a series and the first to overcome a 3-0 hole on the road in Game 7 to do so.
“Yeah, you look back at a lot of games throughout the whole season,” Hartnell said. “The way we got in, the way we came back against Boston to beat a great goalie and New Jersey and Montreal was on fire as well. We have to be proud to a certain point but certainly it’s disappointing, too.”
|Ward on D&H: ‘Boston’s on the upswing’||05.18.10 at 12:54 pm ET|
Former Bruin Aaron Ward, who is serving as an analyst for NHL coverage on Versus, joined the Dale & Holley show Tuesday to talk about the Stanley Cup playoffs. To hear the interview, click on the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Ward said the Bruins were in a difficult situation in their series vs. the Flyers. “It’s tough to overcome the loss of your two top scorers in Marco Sturm and David Krejci. And then couple that with Philadelphia getting back Simon Gagne. That’s a tough one to deal with,” said Ward, who finished this season with the Anaheim Ducks.
Ward said Bruins fans can take solace in the fact that the future is bright for this team. “Boston’s on the upswing. They’ve got a great situation now with the draft, they’ve got a great situation where they have a lot of key, young guys that have that experience in the playoffs, regular season, that familiarity with the city. And it means a lot to a team to where you can start forming some sort of consistency and looking toward becoming a dynasty.”
Ward, who said he would return to Boston “in a heartbeat,” defended the leadership of Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, saying: “He possess every intangible. … He knows when to say something and when not to.”
Ward was traded by the Bruins last offseason to the Hurricanes. There he became teammates with Scott Walker, who sucker-punched Ward in the face during their playoff series last season. Ward said it didn’t take long to put hard feelings aside. “The first phone call from a player [after the trade was finalized] was Scott Walker,” Ward said. “That was pretty easy to deal with, because we aired it out right there, put it right on the table, and there was no issue. We’re big boys. One of the things I found out right after that punch was that Scott’s wife had cervical cancer, and that was the day he found out. So, you know what, there’s times in the game as a player, as a human, you figure out you’ve got to cut him some slack because you never know what kind of frame of mind you’d be in in that situation.”
|Neely on The Big Show: ‘It’s been a rough few days’||05.17.10 at 8:59 pm ET|
Hockey Hall of Famer and Bruins vice president Cam Neely called in to The Big Show on Monday afternoon to discuss the aftermath of the Bruins’ heartbreaking Eastern Conference semifinal loss to the Philadelphia Flyers and talk about the future of the club with the NHL draft, free agency and other big personnel decisions coming up this offseason.
“We’re going to look top to bottom,” Neely said. “Obviously, when you don’t win the last game of the hockey season, you have to improve your club, so we’re looking at all ways at doing what we need to do to improve the club.”
A transcript of that interview follows. You can listen to the entire interview on The Big Show audio on demand page.
Has the Game 7 loss hit you guys yet?
Oh, it hit hard. It hit hard on Friday night. It’s been a very tough few days, as you can imagine. Obviously, losing in the finals is a big deal, but this is really big, too.
Should the David Krejci injury and the return of Simon Gagne be seen as the turning point of the series, or when you’re up 3-0, should you win the series even when you’re up against those injuries?
Yeah, I think when you’re up 3-0 you have to find a way to close it out. Losing Krejci certainly hurt us. That was a big loss because what it did was we had to give Savard more minutes, and you know him stepping into the playoffs in the second round not in the condition the other players were, being out so long that he was. It was a big loss losing Krejci. Gagne, he came back and got some big goals for them at timely times in all of the games that he played in. But when you’re up 3-0, you have to find a way to close it out.
From the front office perspective, where do you start looking [players, coaches, etc.] for what went wrong with that series?
Well I think we have to look at the season as a whole, to be honest with you. The year as a whole didn’t go as we expected it to. Certain players didn’t perform to the expectations. Then, we found a way to make the playoffs and got out of the first round. Quite frankly, I don’t think a lot of people thought we would beat Buffalo, and we came out, played really well and were able to solve [Ryan] Miller and then get up on Philly 3-0.
So I think over the course of this next week, we’re going to sit down as a group and really just evaluate the whole season. I don’t think we should just look at it in this one little snapshot because the year as a whole didn’t go quite the way we had planned or expected. Read the rest of this entry »
|Simon the Bruins-killer||05.14.10 at 11:29 pm ET|
From the moment he took the ice in Game 4, Simon Gagne was the unquestionable difference in the series. The Flyers got their best sniper back in the lineup and it paid immediate dividends when he scored the biggest goal of the series, the overtime game-winner in Game 4 that gave the Flyers a flicker of hope.
By the time he scored the go-ahead power play goal on Friday night in Game 7, the Bruins’ Stanley Cup dreams were completely up in smoke.
Gagne came back from an injured toe and collect four goals and an assist in four games, the final four of the series as the Flyers made history.
Gagne, the hero of Game 7 and of the series for the Flyers, said after Philadelphia’s 4-3 win in Game 7 that nerves may have played a role in the too many men on the ice penalty that led to the series-deciding goal.
“We expected them to come very hard and they did,” Gagne said of Boston’s 3-0 lead in the opening 15 minutes of the game. “Our mistake was maybe taking bad penalties early on, two goals on the power play. It’s not the start you want. After that third goal, we had a timeout and said, ‘Let’s just play one goal at a time and focus on scoring the first goal.’
“After that we were sure they would start questioning themselves a little bit and then we went for the second one and then were able to tie the game. I’m sure at that point they started to get nervous on their side and you know what, sometimes you’re nervous and you make mistakes and then they had too many men on the ice and that might be our chance to win the game and we did,” Gagne said.
The Flyers open the Eastern Conference finals Sunday in Philadelphia against the Canadiens.
|2nd Period Summary: Bruins vs. Flyers Game 7||at 8:56 pm ET|
The Flyers came out and skated like a desperate team, not one that was down and out.
Despite trailing the Bruins, 3-1, the Flyers, led by Daniel Briere and Mike Richards, applied pressure immediately on Tuukka Rask.
Scott Hartnell scored just 2:49 into the period and the blood pressure of fans began to rise in dread. It was made worse when Danny Briere went behind Rask and his backhanded wraparound beat the Bruins goalie at 8;49 to tie the game and stun the crowd.
It was also the first of two video reviews involving Rask. While the Briere goal stood, another review six minutes later would show Dennis Wideman saving the puck by gloving it and keeping it just inches from going over the goal line.
The Flyers had the clear momentum and had a paid of power play chances to take the lead but the Bruins came up with a couple of key kills to keep the game knotted.
The Flyers not only won the scoring battle in the second, 2-0, they outshot them, 11-6.
The Flyers also finish the series with a 10-3 cumulative scoring advantage in the second period.
|1st Period Summary: Bruins vs. Flyers Game 7||at 7:54 pm ET|
Those wondering whether Milan Lucic’s goal in the final 60 seconds of Game 6 would carry over to Game 7 didn’t have to wait too long for their answer.
Lucic had two goals in the opening 20 minutes of Game 7 as the Bruins took a 3-1 lead in what appears to be turning into a no-holds barred affair.
The Bruins put on a heavy forecheck, forced the Flyers into two high sticking penalties and took advantage of the great energy in TD Garden to gain early momentum and – more importantly – the lead.
Michael Ryder put the Bruins up on top when he took control of the puck in the lower right circle and turned and fired a shot that beat Michael Leighton five-hole for a 1-0 lead at 5:27
Johnny Boychuk skated deep with the puck and just before crossing the end line to the right of Leighton, fed a beautiful pass to Milan Lucic, who stuffed it past Leighton inside the left post.
The goal at 9:02 was fourth of the playoffs for Lucic and the second power play tally in as many chances for the Bruins.
But Lucic was hardly done. Just over five minutes later, he took off with Miroslav Satan from the Bruins blue line as the Flyers lost possession of the puck and skated right for the shell-shocked Leighton. His shot beat the Flyers goalie low for his fifth of the postseason and it was 3-0.
And it could’ve been worse for the Flyers, who called their timeout after the third goal. One shot hit the right post and another hit the crossbar as the Bruins spent most of the period deep in the Flyers zone.
James Van Riemsdyk gave the Flyers a pulse at 17:12, the first career playoff goal for the UNH product.
The Bruins outshot the Flyers, 14-8, in the opening 20 minutes.
|Flyers looking for final push||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].”
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