ECS Game 1: Flyers / Bruins
With the first round finally over, the Philadelphia Flyers and the Boston Bruins will meet in the Eastern Conference Semi Final round for the second consecutive year .
With the way the Flyers came back from a 3-0 games deficit against these Bruins last year, one wonders what will be running through the Bruins minds if they get up a goal or a game in this series.
A lot is being said of last years history making series between these two teams, and you have to wonder if the Bruins will be able to harness the emotion that they will bring into this series and play disciplined hockey.
The Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins met four times in the regular season this year. The Bruins took three of four with the lone Flyers win coming in overtime. Tim Thomas was in net for each of those games posting a 1.95 GAA and a .942 SV%.
The Flyers are 13-14 all time in the playoffs versus the Boston Bruins.Seven of those games were decided in overtime with the Bruins taking four out of the seven, while the Flyers have taken the most recent when Simon Gagne scored the OT winner in game four to start last year's historic comeback.
The Flyers and Boston are two big teams and each will certainly use their bodies to try to gain the upper hand when battling for the puck and in front of the goal. Expect the Bruins to hit more of the corners of the net when they shoot as they have better shooters on this team compared to Buffalo.
Nathan Horton has been hot in the playoffs for the Bruins, he had three goals in the first round , two overtime winners, one of which was in game seven. Patrice Bergeron leads the Bruins in scoring with two goals and five assists for seven points.
He is followed by Chris Kelly who has three goals and three assists for six points. You got to figure at some point in this series Mark Recchi will find the perfect spot for a timely goal. One big matchup will be between Zdeno Chara and Scott Hartnell as they will see a lot of each other in front of the Boston's crease.
Speaking of Chara watch for him to sneak up on offensive rushes and plant him self around the Flyers net. If Pronger is not out there at the time , moving Chara from the front of the net could pose a big problem for the Flyers defensemen.
Last Regular Season Matchup Highlights
In The Nets
After the goalie debacle the Flyers went through in the first round it looks like Peter Laviolette has settled on a starting goalie. Brian Boucher will get the start in game one of the Eastern Conference Semi final game today versus the Boston Bruins.
Boucher finished the first round 4-1 with a 2.10 GAA and a .934 SV%, it was a wild ride that finally took Boucher to the top of the goalie rotation. Sergei Bobrovsky will back Boucher up, a tandem that should have been together in the first round.
He will probably see some action in this round and the rest of the way if the Flyers want to go on another long playoff run. I have said this many times during the regular season and will say it again. Boucher can get hot and go on a run , a little run , not a run to go through the whole playoffs, maybe a series.
They will need a goalie rotation and that is where Laviolette will need to step up and utilize his goalies in an efficient manner. I believe the Flyers only real shot at the cup is if Bobrovsky can get hot like he did at the start of the season, with Boosh backing him up. At this point of the season we should not be writing who should be in goal, this should be established by now.
Which brings me to the Boston Bruins starting goaltender Tim Thomas. He is 4-3 with a 2.25 GAA and a .926 SV%. This will be a big test for the Flyers as Tim Thomas and his unorthodox style will be a tough nut to crack .
The Flyers often have trouble scoring as they were shutout twice last round by the score of 1-0. They will need to get in his head by generating lots of traffic in front of him and keeping their shots simple. Tuuka Rask who took the starting job from Thomas last season will be the backup in this series as he was in the first. The Bruins definitely have the edge in goaltending in this series.
The Flyers have struggled on the power play during the regular season and in the playoffs. The Flyers went 5 for 35 in the first round for 14.3% success rate with three of the goals coming in the final two games with Pronger back in the lineup.
The Bruins on the other hand did not manage to score with the man advantage in the first round, going 0-21. They also surrendered a shorthanded goal in game seven. Both of these teams penalty kill units were comparable in the first round.
The Flyers killed off 24 of 31 power plays for a 77.4% kill rate while the Bruins killed off 21 of 27 for a 77.8% kill rate. Both these teams were strong when at even strength, but can one of these teams figure out their power play ?
Did you Know?
Jeff Carter will be unavailable heading into this series as he was last year against Boston. Carter missed last season's series with a broken bone in his foot, this year he is suffering from a sprained knee ligament and may be ready towards the end of this round.
40 players dressed in last years game seven for these two teams, only 23 are still with their respective teams.
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