For all of you coaches out there, take your pick:
1) It takes desperate hockey to win in the playoffs.
2) The best team usually wins.
3) If you're going to go anywhere, you've got to have a little luck on your side.
They're all cliches, but only one of them really applied to the Philadelphia Flyers in game four, a must-win.
Luck was on their side, because they got a whole lot of it.
For the first two periods, the Flyers played like their season was on the line—which it was.
They played physically without recklessly crossing the threshold—which they had to.
They also got some scoring help for Brian Boucher—which he deserved.
But then Michael Ryder struck—or at least half of his stick did—and the Flyers started to sputter.
Was the goal bad? It sure was. The first Boston goal wasn't exactly something you'd package to your goalie coach in the post-game montage either, but those are only back-breakers if you let them be.
And it nearly came to that.
Philly didn't do themselves any favors early in the third when they sent the Bruins to the power play, only to see Milan Lucic score.
The Flyers bounced back after that goal, but only so far as entering the Boston zone.
Looking at the "shooting" side of things, if the Flyers had thrown paintbrushes on net instead of pucks, three feet of end boards to either side of Tuukka Rask would've been your favorite shade of blue. Or red. Or purple.
But Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timonen kept firing pucks on net—the only two players who seemed to be able to hit the net—and eventually it worked, as Pronger was generous enough to give his second goal of the game to Ville Leino.
Then however, things went all wrong for Philly.
While the Flyers outhit the Bruins over the next eight minutes 4-1, the Bruins kept the play where it counted—in the Flyers end.
For a team looking to put a dent in this series and steal away a little momentum, Philadelphia looked as if they had given up the go-ahead goal rather than scored it.
Within the last two minutes, the Flyers controlled it beyond their own blueline just once—for all of two seconds—and iced it by the same count.
Then Mark Recchi made the Wachovia Centre look like a collection of these guys .
In the end, Simon Gagne gutted it out and sent the fans home happy, coming back to score the winning goal, but it was a win with more "excitement" than most hoped for if they're on the Orange side of things.
If the Flyers want to make history in this series and make the 0-3 comeback, then they've got to play better whistle-to-whistle. They can't let up when they go ahead.
To add to the over-used phrases off the top, it takes a 60-minute effort each and every night. Sometimes a little more.
If you're going to let up, you're going to get burned.
And if Chris Pronger is going to play 40 minutes a night, he better have three more installments of this kind of 40 in him, because one or two more Flyer wins just won't cut it.
It's four or fore. Spelling's up to you.
If you want more of BT you can follow him on Twitter @BryanThiel_88 or email him at email@example.com. Also, be sure to check out his archives and his other work over at Hockey54.com—The Face of the Game!
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