May 3, 2010, 6:12 PM EDT
Being down 1-0 in a playoff series isn't quite the end of the world. No need for alarm, panic, or major changes, especially in the case of the Flyers, who played brilliantly for stretches of Saturday's loss to the Bruins in Beantown. Despite getting sawed in half by the B's overtime shooting spree, the Flyers had shown exactly what you want to see in a playoff team, a down-but-not-out mentality. The game/series isn't over just because you're down early and the other team is playing some good hockey.
After allowing two first period goals, the Flyers also climbed back from a two-goal deficit in the third. Throughout the playoffs, they've shown they can come back in games. Until now, they hadn't had to do it in a series, but there's no reason to think they can't split the pair in Boston, just as they did to start the series in New Jersey. Some adjustments will need to be made in order for that to happen though.
Most importantly, the forwards need to play much better defense, particularly in their own zone. Too many free passes near the net, and although they did OK statistically on the faceoffs, they need to make sure to win the ones near their own net, or protect better if they don't. Losing three impact forwards in the previous series, there was going to be some step-down in those facets. Fortunately, the loss of Gagne and Carter didn't hurt the Flyers' ability to score. However, their absence and that of Ian Laperriere was certainly apparent when the Bruins had the puck.
Danny Briere scored a hero's goal, skating the puck through traffic and stick checks the length of the ice before knocking home his own rebound to tie the game at 4. But his poor play on defense was a big factor in why the Bruins had those four goals to begin with. Tonight, Frank Seravalli's projected lines have Danny skating on the wing, centered by Claude Giroux. Darroll Powe will be flanked by JVR and Jared Ross. Seravalli also astutely adds the disclaimer that these lines will probably change very quickly based on a variety of factors. Ross played all of six minutes on Saturday, in a game that went to OT. Mike Richards was double-shifted most of the game, as Peter Laviolette sought to shorten his bench to start the series.
The same was the case on defense, where the top four d-men were all at about 30 mins or more, and Krajicek and Parent each logged less than 13 minutes. Parent did make his minutes count, putting a great shot on net to score a huge goal and finish the game at plus-1.
During the Devils series, we joked about the nebulousness of the standard Keys to the Game, mostly because the Flyers were winning despite regularly violating several of them. However, the slow start to game one doomed them on Saturday, and hopefully we can chalk that up to rust from the long layoff. Tonight they need to set the tone, because coming back twice in a row against a solid defensive team like the Bruins isn't something they should count on. I want some jelly jars thrown in the B's locker room after this one.
After a whistle-free first period, things got pretty chippy in the second and third. Not too surprising given that these two teams were the first to ever throw down in a Winter Classic. The old man fight between Mark Recchi and Chris Pronger may have heated up the blood for game two, with Bruins coach Claude Julien talking some nonsense about Pronger being known for "taking liberties." I don't know what in the hell that means, but I'm all for it if it results in a Flyers powerplay goal, which it did in that particular instance.
Game time is 7PM, and the action is on Versus.
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