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.
It was like deja vu.
Trailing 3-2 early in the third period of Game 3, the Buffalo Sabres earned 1:15 of 5-on-3 time thanks to a Nikolay Zherdev hold and a Darroll Powe cross-checking call.
But just like the Flyers’ Game 1 two-man advantage, for the Sabres, it was the turning point of the contest. And just like for the Flyers, not converting proved costly.
There’s something to be said for a steady veteran hand when a precision job is needed. And that’s exactly what Brian Boucher gave the Flyers in Game 2 on Saturday against the Buffalo Sabres.
Coming in relief of shaky rookie Sergei Bobrovsky in the first period, Boucher steadied the ship, making 20 saves and more importantly, gave the Flyers an opportunity to take the eventual 5-3 victory.
“I think [Boucher] is very calm,” said Danny Briere. “He’s been around. It takes a special kind of person to come in while we’re down 3-2, in front of 20,000 fans, during a big game. He kind of settled things down for us and I think that was one of the reasons why we played with a little more composure maybe in the last 45 or 50 minutes.”
Call it an insurance policy. Call it competitive motivation. Whatever it’s labeled, Tuesday’s recall of goaltender Michael Leighton on re-entry waivers, if he clears, will change the Flyers’ net dynamic for the better, at least on the ice.
For all of March and now into April, the Flyers have needed a backstop, either Brian Boucher or rookie Sergei Bobrovsky, to catch ablaze. Although both goalies have seen varied success, with Bobrovsky appearing to be the playoff starter, it hasn’t happened. And 79 games into the season, it’s not going to.
From Stanley Cup Finals to the waiver wire.
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren announced on Monday that goaltender Michael Leighton has been placed on waivers, months after helping Philadelphia reach its first Stanley Cup Finals appearance since 1993.
Leighton, 29, who was signed to a fresh two-year, $3.1 million deal in the offseason, began the 2010-11 season on injured reserve with a severe back injury (bulging disc). That, along with the introduction of prospect Sergei Bobrovsky, left the 10-year journeyman as the odd-man out. The move will free up a much-needed $1.55 on the salary cap.
It wasn’t pretty, but it also could have been worse.
After being dominated for a full two periods, the visiting Flyers scrapped together a third-period goal from Danny Briere, before falling in overtime to Carlo Colaiacovo and the St. Louis Blues, 2-1, at the Scottrade Center on Saturday night.
The fog that clouded the Flyers’ roster situation all of training camp has suddenly lifted.
In a conference call on Monday, days prior to the Flyers’ season opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Oct. 7, Philadelphia general manager Paul Holmgren cleared the air the best he could, starting with the issues at goaltender and ending with injury updates.
It has been confirmed that Chicago forward Andrew Ladd will miss game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals due to an upper body injury suffered at the end of the Wester Conference Finals against the San Jose Sharks.
“Laddy is not playing,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville told the media. “We do expect him to play (in the series). He’s progressing well but Kopy (Tomas Kopecky) is in tonight.”
Out with a sports hernia that was expected to take six weeks to heal, Flyers’ goaltender Ray Emery is healthy and ready to play, a surprising 11 days early. Emery is expected to make his return on Saturday, against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Maybe it’s the fact that Flyers’ starting goaltender Ray Emery is 1-4 in his last five starts or just a gut feeling from coach John Stevens, but reserve goalie Brian Boucher is set to make back-to-back starts for the first time this season.
After a four-day rest, coming off a respectable showing between the pipes in a 1-0 loss to Atlanta, Boucher will make his fifth start of the season versus Vancouver on Thursday with Emery likely getting the call on Saturday against Washington. Boucher is 2-6-1 lifetime against the Canucks.
Recovering from a shaky start to the season, Boucher has rebounded with two wins in his last three starts, lowering his GAA to an impressive 2.01.