Just when you start to count the Philadelphia Flyers out of a game, they can surprise you with a second gear. The Carolina Hurricanes could tell you about the Wachovia Center. The Washington Capitals could add a few words on the difficulty of maintaining a lead over the Flyers at the Verizon Center.
And based on last night’s performance, the Boston Bruins should be added to the list of teams who are painfully aware of the Flyers’ counter attack.
We say so often that hockey is a game of mistakes, that success depends on “getting back to the basics.” Claude Julien’s Bruins take that mantra to heart. They play a simple system - solid defense, clean passing, and an aggressive forecheck. Once they take control of a game, they rarely surrender it. Moreover, the Bruins know how to utilize their home ice - the Bs had only lost four games at the TD Banknorth Garden prior to last night’s tilt.
It seemed unlikely that the Flyers, struggling to find a rhythm with all the injury and flu casualties, could overcome even a one-goal deficit against the East’s best team in their own barn. But that’s where the counter attack began.
Scottie Upshall intercepted a Marc Savard pass, converting that turnover into a perfect shot to beat Manny Fernandez and tie the game. Capitalizing on that one Bruin error shifted the momentum into the Flyers’ hands.
The Flyers were able to maintain team composure —even while facing a deficit—to wait for that mistake to happen. Upshall and his teammates had the presence of mind to act swiftly in response to the error (Knuble was driving towards the net from the opposite wing, drawing Chara’s attention and giving Upshall the option to shoot or pass). That’s the stuff that makes a playoff caliber team.