The Flyers finished off the Buffalo Sabres in Game 7 on Tuesday night, in what proved to be a very frustrating series for Philly fans. The goalie carousel was turning and giving out headaches faster than Michael Leighton could let in soft goals. But a few strong performances by Brian Boucher proved to be the difference in the series. Sure, there was a lot of "whining" by both sides, there was one team getting away with "murder," and another getting away with "mass-murder" (good one Miller), but in the end, the better team, and the team that should have won, came out on top. Sabres netminder Ryan Miller had two Olympic-like performances, shutting out the Flyers twice, and he also blew 2 different 3-goal leads (haha). For the Flyers, Danny Briere's offensive performance has been tremendous. So far in the playoffs, he has 7 points, 6 goals and 1 assist. He was an unstoppable force on the ice while taking care of his former team.
A standout star that has been overlooked so far this postseason is James van Riemsdyk. JVR had 43 shots in the Buffalo series. Ryan Miller was able to fend off 39 of them, most coming in both 1-0 shutouts. Chris Pronger returned to the ice for the OT win in game 6, his first game in over a month, although he was not as involved as he usually is. He was only playing on the powerplay, about 4 and a half minutes on the ice. In game 7, he played over 17 minutes, and was a good sign of things to come for the Flyers, winning easily 5-2.
Boston started out slow in their series with the Montreal Canadiens, dropping the first two at home, but eventually winning in dramatic fashion in during OT in game 7. After the first two games in Boston, Tim Thomas was the hero for the Bruins, making incredible saves and holding off the Canadiens in 3 different overtime games. One thing to take note of the Bruins, is that they did not score once on any of their powerplays (0-21). The Bruins are a very talented and scary team to play, and have been all year. They took the season series against the Flyers (3-0-1), getting at least one point in every game. Goalie Tim Thomas is looking to win the Vezina trophy, an award which he wrapped up midway through the season. Last year, beating Tuukka Rask four times in a row was a challenge for the Flyers, but after beating the Olympic silver medalist Miller, Thomas, his backup for the Olympics two years ago, will be no easy task as the Canadiens found out. Right now, winger Nathan Horton is hot and very confident coming into this series. Against Montreal, he scored two OT winning goals. If that cant elevate your game, nothing will. Look for Milan Lucic to be ready to go this round as he was scoreless in the B's first series, if the Flyers can frustrate him the way the Canadiens did, look for the Flyers to be on the man-advantage a few extra times.
The Flyers have home ice advantage for this series, being the 2 seed and Boston being the 3. Brian Boucher right now will be the best option for the Flyers to start in net. As to why Michael Leighton was ever brought back is beyond me. 3 unreliable goalies are never better than 2. Leighton let in some of the softest goals i have ever seen against the Sabres in game 6. He immediately put the Flyers in a 0-3 hole and had them fight out of it. Rookie goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky will be backing up Boucher for the start of the series. Bobs is nowhere near a proven goaltender. He had a great game 1 against Buffalo, it was unfortunate that Ryan Miller had an even better game. Game 2 was obvious that he should have been pulled, but not enough to have him not dress again until game 7.
The Bruins have the obvious advantage in net, but the Flyers are a terrific offensive squad and always have the potential to light the lamp a few times each game. They are going to need to score 2 or more goals in each game though, since the Flyers goalies have yet to record a shutout in the 2010-11 season. Unlike last year, the Flyers aren't about to fool around and give Boston any sort of cushion. They don't want another series like Buffalo, and certainly not a repeat of the semi finals from last season.
Flyers in 6