Despite JVR's Dominance, Flyers Lose a Heart Breaker
Photo Credit: Reuters Pictures
The Flyers came out looking like they were going to dominate on Monday night. The crowd was electric and the players were ready thanks to a very emotional rendition of “God Bless America”. The atmosphere was set for a solid bounce-back game. But what started as a perfect response to game one ended in heart break and missed opportunity.
The Flyers came out flying for lack of a better term. Twenty nine seconds into the first period, James van Riemsdyk started what would be one of the best playoff performances from one player in a long time. Claude Giroux started up on a 2 on 1 with van Riemsdyk, passed the puck across, and JVR put the puck past Thomas to give the Flyers the early 1-0 lead.
Just about nine minutes later, van Riemsdyk did it again, this time with a power play goal. Kimmo Timonen shot the puck from the blue line and Briere and JVR scrambled for the rebound. Van Riemsdyk beat Tim Thomas again to make it a 2-0 game.
Unfortunately things would start to fall apart for the Flyers minutes later. Two Bruins were left alone in front of Boucher and Chris Kelly was able to find the lose puck and make it a 2-1 game.
Less than two minutes later things got even uglier. With three Flyers in the vicinity, Brad Marchand let off what should have been an innocent shot that beat Brian Boucher. He had three guys standing in front of him doing nothing and another guy to his right. The goal was not on Boucher.
Also notable in the first period was a scary injury to Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid. He attempted to throw his arm into Mike Richards to check him but Richards stepped out to avoid it and McQuaid went head first into the boards. He would lie motionless on the ice and needed help getting off. He was transported to a nearby hospital and needless to say did not return to the game.
The Flyers were off their game. The Bruins were taking it to them. This would continue into and through the second period. The ice was tilted in the Philadelphia end. The Bruins out-shot the Flyers 13-8 in the second period. It was way worse than what the shot totals will tell you. It was hard to believe the game was still tied after the second period.
Aside from the dominance of the Bruins in the second, something bizarre, yet completely believable if you are a Flyers fan, happened. The Flyers were down in the offensive zone when all of a sudden Brian Boucher needed play to stop. He was holding his hand on his leg in pain and headed straight to the Flyers bench when the whistle blew. The broadcast of the game went to a commercial and when the game returned, Sergei Bobrovsky was between the pipes for the Flyers.
Aside from needing the help from every goalie's best friend, the goalpost, Bobrovsky was excellent.
But things got even crazier to start the third. Brian Boucher was back in net for Philadelphia. Only for the Philadelphia Flyers would this type of thing be expected. It was said that he injured his hand which was put into very stranger terms.
The third period was a turnaround period for the Flyers. The roles were reversed and the Flyers were the team applying the pressure. They out-shot the Bruins 22-7. They were absolutely fantastic and James van Riemsdyk was looking like he could not possibly be human. Just watching him display his strength and skills was something to remember for a long time.
The crowd recognized the performance too and started a “JVR!” chant a few times.
The dying seconds in the third period will not soon leave the minds of many Philadelphia fans. The Bruins iced the puck which gave the Flyers a faceoff in the offensive zone with 4.2 seconds remaining. Mike Richards won the faceoff and van Riemsdyk whipped a shot at Tim Thomas that deflected out to Danny Briere with time and an empty net yawning at him. Briere whiffed on the puck and could not get control. Briere is a clutch goal scorer and to see him miss a chance like that was deflating.
And so it would go to over time. Tim Thomas continued the story he started in the third period. He was denying everything the Flyers gave him. The Flyers doubled the Bruins up in shots in the over time period, but the Bruins would come out victorious.
It seemed as if we would see double OT at the rate the game was going. But a defensive miscue led to the game winning goal. Brian Boucher passed the puck to Braydon Coburn who flung it around behind the net to Kimmo Timonen. Timonen missed the puck. It went right to the stick or Nathan Horton who found David Krejci to win the game for the Bruins. But while the Bruins bench was celebrating, the referee made the call of no goal.
The puck went off the back pipe which caused confusion, but there was no doubt that the puck was in once it was looked at a second time. The review was short and it was of course called a goal. The Bruins were finally able to come over the bench and celebrate while the Flyers had to head to the locker room feeling deflated knowing they let one slip away.
Make no mistake, Tim Thomas was playing incredible, but there was no reason for the Flyers to lose this game. They blew the 2-0 lead and the defense looked terrible again. There were chances to shoot where players elected to pass. And of course there's the Briere missed opportunity that everyone had a bad feeling would come back and bite them.
This series is certainly not over, but this is not going to be an easy mountain for the Flyers to climb. This Bruins team is looking fantastic, and aside from James van Riemsdyk, the Flyers look flat. They look like they are lacking chemistry. And the defense looks flat out terrible.
Peter Laviolette has all the confidence in the world that his team will come out and win up in Boston, and we will have to wait and see if that indeed does happen.
Note: Chris Pronger did not play Monday night. There was speculation as to why that was the case. There were reports of a sore back and also of a sore hamstring. He is, however, expected to make a return in the series.