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Flyers Overcome Boucher Injury, Continue Showing Resiliency

May 10, 2010 – 9:45 PM
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Bruce Ciskie

Bruce Ciskie %BloggerTitle%

The way the Philadelphia Flyers played down the stretch this season, many pundits figured they would be a quick out in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

After making an upset of the New Jersey Devils look almost easy, the Flyers moved on to a best-of-seven with Boston. The Bruins impressively took out Northeast Division champion Buffalo in six games, and they quickly moved out to a 3-0 series lead over Philadelphia.

Just when it was chic to write off the Flyers again, they've charged right back into the series. Monday night, the Flyers continued to show impressive resiliency, overcoming the loss of their starting goaltender in a 4-0 win at TD Garden. Boston's lead in the series is now 3-2, with Game 6 set for Philadelphia Wednesday night.

Bruins lead series, 3-2
Flyers 4, Bruins 0: Recap | Box Score | Series Page

As if the injuries to Simon Gagne and Jeff Carter didn't make things tough enough on the Flyers, they had to deal with another goalie going down, in what's been a season full of goalies getting hurt.

This time, it was starter Brian Boucher, who helped craft the upset of New Jersey. While he hasn't played as well against the Bruins, they've been more capable of generating attack than Jersey was, and they've proven a stiffer test in every way for Philadelphia.

With the Flyers already up 1-0, and Boston already starting to squeeze the sticks a bit, Boucher got his left leg caught under teammate Ryan Parent.

"His left one is worse than the right," Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren told CSN Philadelphia. "He'll probably be [out] a couple of weeks." (UPDATE: Boucher sprained his MCL and is expected to miss up to a month.)

Boucher left the netminding duties to Michael Leighton, who hadn't played since March.

The Flyers were already playing a strong game, protecting their net and taking advantage of Boston mistakes. From the opening faceoff on, the Flyers really had Boston on their heels. Philadelphia was the aggressor in this game. They've played loose and aggressive since falling behind 3-0 in the series. Usually, that's "too little, too late," but Boston has been unable to capitalize on their big series lead.

It's been 35 years since an NHL team overcame a 3-0 series deficit to win. The Flyers don't care about your history. Marc Savard's overtime winner didn't sink them. Milan Lucic' late winner in Game 2 didn't break them. A dominant Tuukka Rask in Game 3 wasn't enough to send them packing. Not even Mark Recchi's late tying goal in Game 4 could make Philly back down.

Now, they lose their starting goaltender, and they keep on trucking.

Boston was off-guard all night. They took bad penalties, got caught out of position defensively, and didn't protect Rask at all. Gagne, in just his second game back, scored twice. Scott Hartnell got his first of the playoffs, only after taking a high stick in the eye during the first period.

In the end, Boucher and Leighton had the first combined shutout in Philadelphia playoff history. Their teammates outshot Boston in every period, controlled the pace of the game, and avoided the undisciplined penalties that they are known for in some hockey circles. Instead, it was Boston chasing the puck around and taking lazy penalties.

Give the Flyers credit, no matter how this series turns out. They continue to impress with their work ethic and desire. Two more wins, and they'll be doing more than impressing.

They'll be carving out a place in the history books. Go ahead and bet against them, if you dare.
Filed under: Sports