It took a spear to a sensitive area of Ottawa Senators forward Kyle Turris and cross check to the head of Flyers center Danny Briere to set the stage for the unlikeliest of fights.
With less than two minutes left in the second period on Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center and with the game tied at one between the Senators and Flyers, immediately off the faceoff, Briere and Turris agreed to drop the gloves and settle a dispute.
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Mike Richards isn’t the problem and neither is his captaincy with the Flyers.
After being swept out of the postseason in effortless fashion by the Boston Bruins in the second round, fingers were pointed and blame was assigned — most of it landing on the shoulders of the 26-year-old, who was playing with a torn ligament in his wrist.
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.”
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.”
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.
Gritting their teeth to overcome the crippling effects of poor goaltending, some how, some way, the Flyers are coming home for Game 7. And hidden under the cloud of poor personnel decisions, backstop philosophies and power play inefficiency, the Flyers are winning with pure, unadulterated willpower.
“We’ve shown heart and character from the onset of the season,” Chris Pronger told reporters in Buffalo. “Went through a lot of ups-and-downs and come through in the clutch. It happened again today.
“It’s the drive and desire to win.”
Winning in the post season comes down to production. If one team’s best players out-produce the other, the series is usually there for the taking.
It’s a simple formula.
Yet, while the Flyers’ big scorers have produced nine goals in two games, the Sabres are still looking for answers. And that’s why, despite having the better goaltender in Ryan Miller and holding the Flyers to a power play efficiency of 11.1%, the Sabres are down 2-1 in the series and holding on for dear life.
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.”
WELLS FARGO CENTER — The intensity may have changed, but the Flyers power play hasn’t, and it cost them a Game 1 playoff victory in a 1-0 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday.
“There were lots of things that happened tonight that were good,” said coach Peter Laviolette with regards to his team’s power play. “There were lots of shots and attacks. However, like the rest of the game, we didn’t find the back of the net.”
WELLS FARGO CENTER — It wouldn’t be a Flyers postseason if it were easy.
Now trailing one game to none thanks to a an underwhelming 1-0 win by the seventh-seeded Buffalo Sabres on Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center, the No. 2 Flyers have every reason to worry.
But they won’t.