It only took two games for the Flyers to revert back to uninspired, lazy play. Game 1 against Boston was a joke. I was there. I spent a solid amount of money traveling from Poughkeepsie, NY to Philadelphia and back just to see the game live (I'll have some pictures to post today or tomorrow). They played like garbage. They couldn't get excited and motivated to play Game 1 of the second round in front of their home crowd?
Everyone deserves blame for that, Laviolette, Boucher, the whole team. Pronger played weak and afraid. The defense played Casper, but didn't lift sticks or eliminate the man. The offense couldn't finish. Boucher played his worse game these playoffs (in my opinion). Laviolette played bad match-ups and left Boucher in the net too long.
But that's not important now. We can worry about those mistakes after the season. There is still hope for the Flyers, mainly the fact that it was only Game 1 (sidenote: that is probably the same thought that lead to the Flyers awful play on Saturday). The Flyers lost Game 1 in the last series and ended up winning. It ain't over yet.
What needs to happen in Game 2 for the Flyers to win is simple: they need focus and motivation. Focus on their D zone coverage, focus on their break outs focus on taking the bodies. And then they need motivation to win the board battles, drive the net, make that extra effort. Although it is a little annoying talking about the Flyers needing to find motivation in Round 2, it's not a definite fatal flaw. Meaning, they can still right the ship.
Boucher will be the Captain of said ship tonight, and his play will very much dictate whether this ship sinks or floats. After we see how Boucher responds, we will know whether Laviolette continued his folly of choosing starting goalies or if he got it right, if only for this game. Do I believe Boucher is the right choice? No. Boucher will either play average and give you a chance to win or absolutely lose you the game. That is a big risk to take. I believe Bobrovsky can get hot and steal games and at worst give up one or two soft goals. But that is a far cry from Boucher's 3 awful ones in one period or 5 on Saturday.
Bobrovsky's bad outing Game 2, Round 1 consisted of 3 goals in less than a period, but only one soft goal. It is puzzling to me how he gets yanked so quickly and never gets his shot to redeem himself, but Boucher gets to screw up worse, more times and still gets to start. Especially considering the talent difference.
At one point the Flyers have to stop going on experience and start riding talent. That will be the only way they can have a shot to go far this year. But what do I know?
Projected Bruins lines
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Mark Recchi
Chris Kelly-Rich Peverley-Michael Ryder
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference-Johnny Boychuk
Tomas Kaberle-Adam McQuaid
Scratches: Tyler Seguin, Shane Hnidy, Matt Bartkowski, Jordan Caron, Jamie Arniel, Anton Khudobin
Projected Flyers lines
Scott Hartnell-Danny Briere-Ville Leino
James van Riemsdyk-Claude Giroux-Nikolay Zherdev
Dan Carcillo-Mike Richards-Kris Versteeg
Zac Rinaldo-Blair Betts-Darroll Powe
Chris Pronger-Matt Carle
Kimmo Timonen-Braydon Coburn
Sean O'Donnell-Anrej Meszaros
Scratches: Jody Shelley, Jeff Carter (knee), Andreas Nodl (upper body), Matt Walker, Danny Syvret, Nick Boynton, Erik Gustafsson, Ben Holmstrom, Michael Leighton
Hopefully the Flyers will utilize last change this game to make sure Boston's top line faces Richard's line, not Briere's line like it did in Game 1, which was fatal. Flyers put together a checking 3rd line for a reason, yet failed to use them properly in Game 1. Krejci responded to the easy match up with 4 points.
I don't know what will happen tonight. It will either be the Flyers team that wants to win or the Flyers team that doesn't care and is already concerned with going to the shore this summer. I'm leaning towards the former, rather than the latter, and hoping it starts a consistency for them. They can't sleep through the playoffs like they did the regular season.
I'm going to venture a 5-3 Flyers win. Giroux, JVR and Zherdev take the burden of scoring and Richards plays a Selke-worthy game. I think the key to tonight's game is playing physical with Boston's top line and Chara. Make it less comfortable for them. I think Richards leads by example tonight, and his line (with Giroux, JVR or Powe substituting for Carcillo majority of the night) shuts down Boston.
My guess for first star will be Giroux as he will be the best player on the score sheet. But I think Richards will be the real star of the game.
I also believe that Boucher finishes the game, but is still shaky at best.