Bruins Push Flyers to Brink, 5-1
Wednesday night at TD Garden in Boston, the Philadelphia Flyers needed a spirited effort to get themselves back into their semifinal series with the Bruins. Instead, Boston obliterated whatever was left of the Orange and Black en route to a dominating 5-1 victory. As the series heads to the fourth game, plenty will be made of last year’s 0-3 comeback for the Flyers. That memory looks to be the only thing that Philadelphia has on their side at this point.
Boston wasted no time determining the outcome of game 3. Just over a minute into the game, the Flyers found themselves trailing 2-0, and the bleeding seemed like it would never stop. The first goal was a terrible breakdown by Kris Versteeg when he floated towards his own goaltender with the puck below the goal. Boston found Zdeno Chara where Versteeg should have been, and the hardest slap shot in the NHL didn’t disappoint the hometown fans. He fired a rocket past goalie Brian Boucher. Like Boucher on the breakdown, the Flyers never stood a chance.
David Krejci notched the game’s second tally just 1:03 into the game, which prompted Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette to call timeout. Conventional wisdom would have said that Boston would need to continue to score due to the Flyers' offensive capacity to score a few goals. Boston did continue to score, but they didn't need it. For the remaining 58:57, Philadelphia’s offensive attack was thwarted with ease by the Bruins.
In game 2, goalie Tim Thomas was the one doing the thwarting for Boston. Despite facing 38 shots on Wednesday, it was his centers that did the heavy lifting. Thomas was rarely tested in a way that required the magnificent saves that he’s grown accustomed to making this season. Philadelphia’s opportunities were weak at best, and with Boston winning 43 of the game’s 55 face-offs, their puck possession was remarkable. Often, the face-off battle is an indication of effort, and Wednesday made that quite clear.
For stretches this season, the Flyers lethargic ways have been troubling, but one would be hard-pressed to find a more troubling occasion than game 3. In what was basically a ‘must-win’ scenario, Philadelphia seemed completely lost. Although Boston’s early lead and constant physicality certainly played into the Flyers ineptitude, Philadelphia had the look of a team that was ready for the off-season.
Yes, it’s been done before. And yes, it was the Flyers that did it. The 0-3 comeback of last year will forever live on in the lore of professional sports. But, that result will probably do more to combat the Flyers chances this year than help them. After all, it was this year’s opponent that choked away the imposing lead last season.
Boston won’t chuckle at the idea of a 3-0 comeback like many teams are predisposed to do in a playoff series. The rarity of the feat still remains daunting, and the only chuckling it should spur is coupled with the idea of it happening again.
Those chuckles should exist because the Flyers looked like fighters that had taken one too many blows in the late rounds. They were left wheezing on the bench and keeled over during stoppages in play . They didn’t surrender, but they didn’t fight back either. For all intents and purposes, it didn't look like the capability to fight back was in their arsenal anymore.
Their beleaguered looks told the story of game 3 and furthermore, the semifinals. Their lack of effort at the face-off dots explained their failure to mount consistent pressure. Their lazy passes illustrated what had happened to their focus.
When all of those factors were put together, it showed what was left of their spirit.
Not much at all.