Last year, the Philadelphia Flyers squeezed into the playoffs by defeating the New York Rangers in a shootout. This year was no different, as the Flyers once again secured a playoff berth via shootout. This year, however, they got it done way sooner.
There have been many concerns in Philadelphia lately with the goaltending and the lack of consistent effort in general. Both Sergei Bobrovsky and Brian Boucher haven't played their best hockey recently, but I don't think it's as much of a concern as everybody thinks.
Boucher is a proven veteran. Sure, he's been with Philadelphia a few times in his career, and there have been just as many good times as there have been bad. I, for one, think Boucher has done a terrific job this year, especially being a mentor to the young Bobrovsky.
There's no doubt in my mind that Bobrovsky will win the starting job in Philadelphia, it's just a matter of when. While he's still finding his game, however, I believe that Boucher is more than a capable backup. He's stolen games when he's needed to, especially in the playoffs last year.
I'll be the first one to admit that I wasn't the biggest Boucher fan a few years ago, but I think he has really improved since last year. I do believe that having Boosh backup Bobrovsky this year will be detrimental to their success.
Sure, Boosh doesn't have the best numbers this year, but I believe that he will find his game in the playoffs and play much like he did against New Jersey last year. If he struggles, it's alright. We still have Bobrovsky to fill in and get the job done.
Has Boucher done a good job this year?
I'm sure Bobrovsky is going to have his share of troubles in the playoffs, and more than likely will let in a few weak goals, but that is to be expected. He's still a rookie, and this will be the first time he's played in the NHL playoffs.
That being said, Boucher has been around the block and knows what it takes to win. He has the experience, and he is more than capable of getting the job done in Bobby's absence.
I do believe that Boucher will be a key to Philadelphia's success. They are going to need him on some nights, and as long as he can hold his ground, I believe the Flyers will be pleased with what they get in return.
I'm sure Boucher is excited to play in the playoffs this year, especially after his injury last year. That could really make a difference in the playoffs. Brian realizes this is his last year with Philadelphia, and may very well be the last chance he has at a Stanley Cup.
If Boosh has a strong playoff performance, I think he may receive a contract extension, but if he falters, I think the Flyers will be looking for another backup in the offseason. I fully expect Boosh to play his heart out this year and I expect to see some of his best play this year.
He has a chance to make things right with Philadelphia, he just has to execute now.