VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers may be winless heading into Game 3 against the Boston Bruins, but that hasn’t curbed their confidence or enthusiasm one bit as they hit the road.
“There is a 100 percent belief in here that we can go into Boston and win the next game,” said coach Peter Laviolette. “There’s a lot of guys [in the locker room] that have battled through different situations and been able to win big games. I have no reason to doubt that tomorrow will be any different.”
Brimming with confidence and displaying an almost excited demeanor, when asked if the Flyers drew swagger from last year’s 3-0 comeback on the Bruins, Laviolette said they never discussed it.
Midway through the third period with the Boston Bruins and Flyers locked at two, the orange-clad Philadelphia crowd that filled Wells Fargo Center scrapped the U.S.A. chants that started the contest in favor off a more topical and rousing abbreviation — J.V.R.
To say that James van Riemsdyk was impressive in Game 2 would be an understatement. Scoring two early goals and pacing the Flyers’ spirited attack throughout, the 21-year-old seemed to have an awaken. Jetting into the zone, cornering defenders and powering to the crease, all while taking double shifts, was not just an errant good game — it looked more like the coming of age of a superstar.
“I think it’s just the experience and the confidence to have been in the playoffs before and learned from the guys that are such great playoff performers,” van Riemsdyk said.
Facing a crucial Game 2 on Monday against the Boston Bruins, the Flyers need a physical and emotional overhaul if they plan to leave Philadelphia with a split. From the coaches to Brian Boucher in net, the Flyers must be better in almost every facet if they want to climb back into the series.
Here are the keys to Game 2 for the Flyers.
Jeff Carter walked gingerly down the hall at the Flyers practice facility on Thursday morning, holding a slight limp on his sprained right knee.
The high-scoring forward’s walk, along with mechanical knee brace laying under his equipment in the locker room, told the tale of someone not quite ready to play in an intensity-driven post-season game. Throw in the fact that Carter hasn’t practiced with the team since the injury occurred on April 20, and there’s reason to believe that although the optimism is present for his return at some point during the second round against the Boston Bruins, that comeback won’t happen anytime soon.
But should Flyers fans be worried?
VOORHEES, N.J. — It was a moment that defined the core of this Flyers team.
Coming from a 3-0 series and Game 7 deficit to take down the Boston Bruins en route to an eventual trip to the Stanley Cup Finals was not only historic, it is the watershed moment that all future playoff scenarios will be compared to. And what this particular returning group of Flyers will walk beside forever.
And for that, the Bruins seek redemption.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s a good opportunity for us to hopefully exorcise some demons,” Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference told the Boston Herald, after advancing past the Montreal Canadians on Wednesday.
“As much as we learned lessons from last year and we’re not afraid to talk about those lessons, we’ve got a chance to make things a little bit better this time around.”
Since Chris Pronger’s Game 6 return to the line up, the talk has been of his impact on the power play, his veteran presence and the spark he could and did provide. That’s all true and proved so in the team’s Game 7 victory against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday.
But in the long-term, as the big defenseman begins to log more minutes and heal that aching right hand, Pronger’s key contribution will come in the form of pure depth for the Flyers.
“I think his presence back there is huge,” said James van Riemsdyk. “When you get a guy like him back in the lineup it’s huge.”
f four Game 7’s in the 2011 playoffs have proven anything, it’s that there is extreme parity in the NHL.
Prior to Tuesday’s Game 7 beat down in Philadelphia, that was no more evident than the seventh seed Buffalo Sabres and second seed Flyers who separated by just one goal. Aside from goaltending, the difference between the two teams was almost non-existent — until the final game.
The game changer? The Flyers came armed with big guns.
“When we need to have a big game, the bigger the game the bigger the players that we have,” Mike Richards said. “Danny [Briere], Kimmo [Timonen], [Chris Pronger], and Claude [Giroux] step up and it’s nice to see that we have confidence when we play in big games.”
WELLS FARGO CENTER — Peter Laviolette put it bluntly.
“It’s a game that’s made for men,” the Flyers coach said after last postseason’s Game 7 win against the Boston Bruins. “And our guys proved to be men today.”
And with the season on the line against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center in a crucial Game 7, the Flyers are looking to tap into that masculine fervor one more time.
“All your eggs are in one basket,” said forward Kris Versteeg. “It’s a game where you better be prepared because if not, it’s all over.”
For anyone that has ever played any sport at a moderately high competitive level understands that trash talk is normalcy. In the heat of battle, emotional verbiage is bound to spill. Those same people also know that despite the anger, hatred and gamesmanship, there is a line that one isn’t supposed to cross.
However, the average person probably doesn’t realize how far along that line really is.
On Sunday night, it surfaced in a Buffalo News column by Jerry Sullivan, that Buffalo Sabres agitator, Patrick Kaleta, was said to have verbally attacked Flyers Danny Briere and Scott Hartnell over the two player’s recent publicized divorces.
Less than a week after Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff chastised the Flyers, mainly captain Mike Richards, for ‘whining’ about the officiating and behind-the-play activity from his team, it was the long-time bench boss who was singing for discipline.
In the third period of the Flyers’ eventual 5-4 overtime win, Richards became tangled with Sabres’ forward Tim Connolly heading into the corner. With Connolly stumbling forward, Richards tried to separate him from the puck with a shove. The push, however, which garnered a two-minute boarding penalty, sent Connolly face first into the glass with the momentum of Richards along with falling.
Connolly, who has a concussion history, never returned to the contest and is ruled out for Game 7 on Tuesday at Wells Fargo Center.