New round, same scenario for the Philadelphia Flyers. Once again, they’ve dug themselves a hole, falling behind in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals 1-0, with a 7-3 shallacking at the hands of the Boston Bruins.
Simply put, the Flyers didn’t show up. That’s, the FLYERS didn’t show up, not just the goaltending, not just the defense, this was in all reality, a team loss.
Nothing went well for the orange and black, Saturday afternoon, in front of a disappointed Wells Fargo Center crowd.
The Bruins scored just two minutes into the game. The Flyers would respond to tie the game on a goal by Danny Briere, but after that, it was all Bruins.
If you thought the Flyers could go more than one game without some sort of a goalie controversy, then you were wrong. Brian Boucher was pulled after allowing the Bruins 5th goal of the game. At that point it wasn’t Boucher’s play that got him pulled, it was head coach Peter Laviolette looking for some kind of boost. It would be easy to blame the goaltending in this situation. Even though a few of the goals Boucher allowed were scored on shots that Boucher normally saves, the high-percentage of the chances is what beat Boucher on Saturday.
The Flyers played with little to no urgency, they looked flat, and surprisingly tired for a team that had 3 days off. The Bruins looked motivated, and most troubling for the Flyers, confident. Confident in their game-plan, one that worked to perfection. However, the Flyers helped it along with poor play on both ends of the ice. While the Flyers coasted, the Bruins were busy running a clinic on the orange and black.
The Flyers have no one to blame but themselves. For one reason or another, they flat-out weren’t ready to play. A problem that seemed to plague them during their late season struggles. Struggles that reared their ugly head a few times during their 1st round series against the Buffalo Sabres. If it isn’t inconsistency that kills the Flyers it’s the lack of overall team urgency. How on earth can a team that plays so well at times, play so poorly at others? The answer is far deeper than goaltending, let’s not lean on that crutch.
Overall team defense was abysmal, defensemen were allowing easy entry into the Flyers zone all afternoon. While forwards fell asleep on their assignments in front of the net. Whether or not Boucher let in some soft goals is a moot point. With the kind of opportunities the Bruins had all afternoon, they were going to win the game. The Flyers seemed mesmerized by the puck, staring at the puck handler, while Bruins skated unmolested into open scoring areas. Any word you want to use that’s a synonym for failure would work to describe the Flyers play on Saturday.
The Bruins fore-checked like crazy, forcing Flyer mistakes in their own end. Boston took it to the Flyers physically, giving them no room to breathe. The Flyers were really never able to respond.
The Bruins were also able to get their number one scoring line in gear. Another troubling sign if you’re a Flyers fan.
The Bruins flexed their muscle, proving they can rotate four effective lines, along with a defense that doesn’t quit in their own end, and pinches aggressively in the offensive zone.
Overall, the Bruins played a nearly perfect game. The Flyers must make some major adjustments, it starts with the intensity level, and ends with on ice adjustments. Line match-ups were a puzzling weakness for the Flyers, who continued to play their check-line against the bigger Bruins scoring lines. Also, at times, Danny Briere’s line was matched up against the Lucic line of Boston, a clear miss-match in size. Puzzling mainly because the Flyers were at home, and they get the last line change.
If the Flyers were hoping for an easy series, or hoping to play a team like the Sabres, the Bruins quickly eliminated any of those hopes. The big bad Bruins have come to play, they’ve landed the first punch. The Flyers now, must punch back, and quickly.