Flyers Dominate In Game Seven Victory
It was not looking so great for the Flyers Friday night. The team had battled back in game 5 but lost a heart breaker in overtime. It was then do or die time for the Flyers on Sunday in game 6. Once again the Flyers had to fight back from behind, this time twice in the game, and came out victorious in overtime to force a game 7.
There is nothing quite like a game 7 in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Numerous stats had been brought up and talked about prior to Tuesday night's game, but in game 7s, anything can happen. Playing it on home ice is obviously ideal, but recent game 7s have showed the meaninglessness of it.
The Flyers clearly had the upper hand on Tuesday simply because of the emotional swing they created in the series. To win game 6 when it looked like they were done, and to head back home with a chance to move on to the next round gave every reason to believe in the Flyers chances to win game 7.
The game started as every big home playoff game in Philadelphia does with the chilling rendition of "God Bless America" which had Wells Fargo Center absolutely rocking. That song gets players on both benches pumped up immediately, but then it's time to put all of that energy and emotion to use out on the ice and the Philadelphia Flyers did just that.
The goal was to not play from behind in the game for once in the series, but the Flyers took it to an even higher level. They flat out dominated through the first twenty minutes. The Sabres were outshot 16-2. Guys like Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk were on their game looking like men on a mission as did every man in orange and black.
It seemed as though despite all the efforts from the Flyers, the first would end scoreless. But this would not be the case. The Flyers ended up with three offensive zone face-off draws in the final thirty seconds. They even had Claude Giroux tossed out of the third draw but still managed to win it with Briere in. He drew the puck back to Braydon Coburn at the point who fired an innocent looking wrister that beat Ryan Miller to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead with just 18.5 second remaining in the first period.
The second period is where the Flyers really made a statement for lack of a better term. The power play has been their biggest issue this whole series. They struggled game after game to get just one PP goal. Tonight that all changed.
With Tyler Myers in the box early in the second period for interference, the Flyers took advantage just 5 seconds into the man advantage. Mike Richards fired a shot towards Ryan Miller hoping for a rebound. The puck went off the leg of Danny Briere and right into the crease behind Miller which set Briere up for the perfect tip into the back of the net. The Flyers were now up 2-0 and the crowd was loving it.
The Flyers were not finished with power play goals just yet. They capitalized on another man advantage just about halfway into the second period. Chris Pronger created the perfect set up to Claude Giroux who fired the puck at the net in a set play with James van Riemsdyk planted in front of Ryan Miller. the puck grazed off the stick of JVR and went between the legs of Ryan Miller to give the Flyers a 3-0 lead.
The second period would end with the Flyers up 3-0. The Sabres were looking like they didn't have much to give. The talent and depth of the Flyers was showing, and the Sabres number one asset, Ryan Miller, was not the brick wall he had to be.
All the Flyers had to do was hang on for another twenty minutes and they were headed to round number two. But the orange and black did something they haven't done much in the past few months. They kept their foot on the gas and kept coming at the Sabres.
The ultimate damage was done just two minutes into the third period. Ville Leino came flying down the left wing and fired a laser of a shot past Ryan Miller. That goal ended the season for Ryan Miller. For the first time in his career, Ryan Miller was pulled in a playoff game and Jhonas Enroth took his place between the pipes.
The Flyers, however, cannot complete a game without a little bit of drama. The defense collapsed in front of Brian Boucher as Tyler Myers ruined the shutout bid for Boucher and made the finish a little interesting. Peter Laviolette was clearly not happy with his team as was seen by his reaction on the bench.
But Philadelphia would get their 4 goal lead back less than four minutes later as Dan Carcillo beat Enroth while falling down to make it a 5-1 game.
The Sabres would add a power play goal two minutes later to make it a 5-2 game, but that is how it would end.
The Flyers didn't just hang on to the victory. They fought hard to the finish for it, and that says a lot about the character of this Flyers team.
There was plenty of adversity in this series for Philadelphia. They lost game one on home ice. They lost Jeff Carter in game four, and Chris Pronger's status seemed worrisome throughout the series. They used three goaltenders in the series and won two games when their starter was pulled. And they pulled off a gutsy win in game 6 on the road to avoid being eliminated.
Many positive stories also came out of the series for the Flyers. Danny Briere is tied for the league lead in playoff goals. James van Riemsdyk has grown up right before our very eyes and has blossomed into a dominant player, and Claude Giroux continues to dazzle. And Brian Boucher showed so much character and perseverance to help his team eliminate Buffalo. That is only some of the great stories already developing.
The most important thing of course is that the Philadelphia Flyers are moving on to the Eastern Conference Semifinals and will play either Boston, Pittsburgh, or Tampa Bay. Things may have seemed ugly at times for this team, but the Flyers are certainly showing shades of the team they were last season which is a time no one will want to play.