May 3, 2010, 9:45 PM EDT
The Flyers played another incomplete game in Boston, lost it, and will return to Philadelphia down 2-0 in the series. The readymade excuse for losing this series is the injuries to Simon Gagne, Jeff Carter, and Ian Laperriere. Any one of them is a sustainable hit to a deep team. But all three at once? Pretty brutal. It's clearly affecting the team, which bore little resemblance tonight to the one that beat New Jersey in five games.
The blow to the Flyers' depth was a factor in each of their losses to the Bruins so far, most notably in the team's fading late in the game. On Monday night, the fade just started sooner. Tied at the start of the third period, the Bruins owned the rest of the game, with the Flyers struggling to gain control of the puck in their own zone, and having a dreadful time clearing it. On one such sequence, Milan Lucic slapped at a puck standing on its side to put the game-winner past Brian Boucher. That play pretty much summed up the game; it wasn't all bad for the Flyers, but it's hard to remember the positive highlights in the wake of a second consecutive loss. You've been warned—this post isn't a happy place. We'll try to keep things in in perspective though.
We're at two games and counting in which the Flyers haven't held the lead. At all. In game two, the Flyers lacked scoring touch and struggled to get anything established offensively. Mike Richards and Danny Briere scored the team's two goals, reprising their performances in the series opener. Danny wasn't quite the defensive liability he was in game one, and it should be said that even though he earned criticism for that aspect of his game on Saturday, he's never been a defensive player, and right now, his offense has been plenty good. Briere is one guy who has absolutely stepped up his goal-scoring, something the Flyers lacked overall in this 3-2 loss. He was a plus-2 on the night, too.
That's not to say it was a complete game shutout on by the defense either. While they managed to mute the Bruins for some long stretches, and the team played particularly well their penalty kills, their failure to clear the puck on some key possessions doomed them for the second straight game. Like me, you were probably screaming "GET IT OUT" … just before the Bruins scored the game-winner. You could feel that goal coming for most of the third period.
Maybe it's due to the injuries, but the Flyers were just gassed at the end of the game. Three forwards (Arron Asham, Andreas Nodl, and Jared Ross) played less than seven minutes of the game. The lines were shuffled repeatedly throughout the night, and Laviolette's team simply lacked any cohesion. Again, it's not easy to replace three forwards in the playoffs.
All that being said, with the series coming back to Philly and some sub-optimal play so far, the Flyers still only lost each game by a single goal. It's not over. Not when this guy is repping Boston hockey fans.
Some other items of note in this one include a scuffle between Dan Carcillo and Marc Savard of the Bruins. After a big glove save by Boucher, Savard hacked at his glove. It was blatantly after the puck was snared, and the refs rewarded him with a slashing call. Carcillo immediately jumped Savard as well, and he was quickly joined by a few other orange, white, and black jerseys. You don't do that to a goalie, and even the refs gave the Flyers a break, not plenalizing a single one of them after the retaliation. The other thing you don't do in hockey is bite. Carcillo has loudly accused Savard of biting his finger in the scrum, but there was no video evidence of that, at least from what we've seen.
"Guys don't bite. Men don't bite," Chico said after the game. We'll keep you posted on any league justice to come from the event, but we're not expecting any. Savard does, however, have a history of biting—and subsequent discipline. Per TSN's Bob McKenzie, in 2003, he was suspended for biting Darcy Tucker. Carcillo's credibility with the league isn't too strong though, having been suspended quite a few times of his own. He also embellished a head shot by Steve Begin in the first period, which drew an easy call from the ref.
By the way, we're still waiting for Scott Hartnell '08-'09 to show up this season. The first Bruins goal was the result of Mike Richards being tossed from the faceoff due to movement on the wing by Carcillo and by Hartnell. Hartnell then took the draw, lost it clean, and did little to defend against the shot that came a moment later.
Oddly enough, in a game during which Lavvy was playing with a short bench, Hartnell skated two shifts late in the game, just after Milan Lucic scored the eventual game-winner. Keith Jones pointed out in the intermission that Hartnell took all of five faceoffs all season; he lost that one to Patrice Bergeron, who was 9-0 on draws in the first period alone. The Flyers got absolutely smoked on the faceoff in this one, 38-26. Hard to win a game when you start that many sequences without the puck.
There's plenty more to say about this one, but I probably should have stopped at the page jump. All that matters now is that this series is coming to Philadelphia, where twice this month, fans have had a say in the outcome of a game. Time to do our part to send this series back to Boston tied up, with the Bruins on the brink of Cap-sizing.
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