Flyers Make Statement In Buffalo, Take 2-1 Series Lead

If anyone had any questions about whether this team is ready for the playoffs or not, I hope you had them answered after tonight’s performance. The Flyers played one of their most complete games probably since the start of 2011 tonight. There were so many positives from tonight’s 4-2 win over the Sabres in Buffalo that this team can build on moving forward.

Photo courtesy of Philly.com

And I think the drama surrounding the goaltending of this team was quietly set aside, for tonight at least, by one Brian Boucher. Mr. Cool, we can call him, as he has an uncanny ability to slow down the game and boost the confidence of the players skating in front of him. He was absolutely stellar in goal tonight, and his performance alone may have single handedly won the Flyers the game. That, and the pure hustle of the shorthanded unit were the difference makers tonight.

If you somehow missed tonight’s huge win that gives the Flyers the 2-1 series edge, please, check out the highlights (courtesy of NHL.com):

http://nhl.cdn.neulion.net/u/videocenter/embed.swf

Where do I begin to talk about the elements of tonight’s victory? Carter’s first goal of the series and an assist? Nikloay Zherdev scoring a timely and eventual game-winning goal in his first action in the playoffs? Mike Richards’ first point of the postseason, a slick assist to Zherdev?

Or is it the play of Danny Briere (1G) and his linemates? What about Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen’s +3 rating each and Kimmo’s empty net goal to seal the deal? You can’t forget about the invaluable play of Blair Betts and Darroll Powe, both as 4th line (best 4th line in hockey, I don’t care what anyone else says) producers to LEGENDS on the penalty kill.

There are so many positive things that went into tonight’s game from this team that can only bode well for their overall confidence moving forward.

My standout star of the game is Brian Boucher. In a morning that saw such controversy on the Flyers’ goaltending front (Boosh named the starter, Bob scratched, Leighton coming in as the backup), Boosh brought not only his calming presence to the ice surface, but he also silenced a lot of critics in the media and the stands as to whether or not he would be able to answer the call. 35 quality saves, and I mean legitimate chance robbing saves, on 37 shots was certainly the difference maker in this one. He outplayed his goaltending counterpart, Ryan Miller, who did what he could with the team he had in front of him, shelling out 22 saves on 25 shots. Moving forward, tonight’s performance only bodes well for the confidence of his team, the fans, and Brian himself.

And you can’t forget the superb job the penalty killers did tonight for the Flyers. They killed off a 4:00 5 on 4 advantage for the Sabres after Scott Hartnell got called for the delay of game and interference at the end of the 1st period. The Flyers certainly built momentum off that and off probably one of the finest penalty kills in the NHL all playoffs so far; a 1:45 5 on 3 at the midpoint of the 3rd period, in a 1 goal game. That certainly swung momentum in the Flyers favor and gave them just enough to hold on for the win.

“The penalty kill got us a win tonight,” said head coach Peter Laviolette, who seems to know how to push all the right buttons when it comes time for the playoffs.

With the Flyers up 2-1, they look to take a stranglehold on the series on Wednesday night when they face off for Game 4 in Buffalo. With the win tonight, the Flyers took away Buffalo’s home ice advantage, and are in prime position to take off in the series.

The MOST IMPORTANT THING TO DO RIGHT NOW is to not overlook the Sabres, who are right there with you in each game. They are not going to go down without a fight, so be prepared for a battle on Wednesday night and certainly for every game after that.

THE ORANGE UPDATE 3 STARS OF THE GAME

1) Brian Boucher (35 saves)
2) Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen (+3 rating, Timonen w/ 1G)
3) Jeff Carter (1G, 1A) and Mike Richards (1A)

HONORABLE MENTION: James vanRiemsdyk

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