NHL Playoffs 2011: 5 Keys to a Philadelphia Flyers' Comeback vs. Boston Bruins
The Bruins were on the ropes in Game 2, but the Flyers couldn’t put them away and it cost them in the end. While Philadelphia was one of the best teams in the regular season, the Flyers almost lost in the first round and looked flat in the first game.
Boston weathered the storm in Game 2 and optimized their opportunities and exploited the Flyers goaltending to win. With the Bruins being up 2-0 in the series, the Flyers need to win in Boston and keep the series alive.
Last season, the Flyers came back from being down 3-0 to the Bruins in the second round, but they would rather not have to repeat that feat.
This slideshow is off the five keys to success for the Flyers. Enjoy!
5. Coach Needs to Motivate
Philadelphia Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette is one of the best coaches in the NHL. He won the Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes and took the Flyers to the Cup in his second season behind the bench.
Now that his team is down 2-0 in their series against the Boston Bruins, Laviolette needs to spark the troops. I think he’s one step ahead of me.
Laviolette said after Game 2:
We have to go into Boston and win one hockey game. Going to the well is not an easy thing to do. It's a difficult thing to do and we did it last series and we did it last year against Boston. When you lose your first two games in your home building, I would say there's a real expectation for the Bruins to win the series now. So it relieves us of the pressure, I believe, a little bit to just go in and play a game in Boston. And while it relieves us of the pressure, it certainly mounts onto them to be successful now that they have a 2-0 lead. I think we're going to go into Boston, we're going to play a strong hockey game, we're going to win a game. This team never quits. We get to remove some of that pressure right now and just go play, have some fun and see if we can score some more goals than we did tonight. I truly believe this team still has a lot of fight in it.
I hope that works.
4. Chris Pronger’s Health
Veteran defender Chris Pronger was one of the biggest parts of the Philadelphia Flyers playoff success last season and they are hurting without him.
The defense doesn’t have the same edge and his impact on the penalty kill and the powerplay is something that has been missing all postseason.
Even when he has played, the hand injury he received limited him greatly. Word is now that there is more to worry about.
The Flyers have not disclosed the reason for Pronger's absence, but sources indicate Pronger injured his back either at the end of the Buffalo series or the start of this series and now also has a hamstring injury, which made it impossible for him to play.
3. Get James van Riemsdyk the Puck
While Flyers forward Danny Briere and Claude Giroux have more points and goals, you could argue that youngster James van Riemsdyk is the series star so far.
While van Riemsdyk has no assists, he has seven goals and has been a big factor in several games in both the Buffalo series and the Boston series.
The Flyers need to make a concerted effort to get the puck on the stick of JVR when he is rushing the net.
JVR has developed into an effective power forward and the team has to utilize him to win their series against the Bruins.
2. Brian Boucher
When the NHL playoffs started, there was uncertainty in net for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Now that the second round of the playoffs has started, the questions in net are still as evident as ever.
Veteran journeyman Brian Boucher availed as the starter coming into the Bruins series, but was pulled in the first game after letting in four goals. In Game 2, though, he played better.
Boucher has managed four wins with a goals against average of 2.79 and a save percentage of .914.
For Philadelphia to have a chance at coming back in this series to beat the Bruins, they will need Boucher to stand on his head and keep the Flyers in this series.
1. Solve the Tim Thomas Puzzle
When I see Tim Thomas stand on his head and make the Flyers look like a junior B team, I get mad that he is not a Flyer.
The good people of Boston are more than willing to remind the Flyers that they could’ve had Thomas, but passed on his services.
Joe Haggerty told CSNNE.com:
It seems like years ago now, but there was a time last summer when the Bruins were exploring all their salary-cap relief options. Those choices included trading Thomas and his $5 million salary cap tag to a willing team, and people close to Thomas let it be known that Philadelphia is the place he most wanted to go. But the Flyers weren't interested in a middle-aged goaltender coming off major hip surgery and an "off season" during which he lost his starting job to young understudy Tuukka Rask. One would think Flyers GM Paul Holmgren might want to rethink that strategy after watching Thomas push his record in Philadelphia to 8-0-0 against the Flyers in the regular season and playoffs.
I don’t know what it will take, and the Flyers don’t seem to know either, to beat Tim Thomas but they have to figure it out fast.
Thomas is a contender for the Vezina Trophy and the way he is playing in this round could spell the end of the Flyers’ season.