DEPTH TOO MUCH
The first thing Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette started his post-game press conference with was to congratulate the Buffalo Sabres on a well-played series.
After all the Sabres played six very close games, five of which were decided by one goal and two in overtime, to force a seventh game.
In the end the Flyers’ depth was just too much.
Their 5-2 win at home in Game Seven vaulted the Flyers into the Eastern Conference Semifinals for the second consecutive year and third time in the last four years.
Their opponent is unknown, however the Flyers are not looking that far ahead just yet.
Sure you could argue that Danny Briere had a monster series, which he did with six goals and seven points. Claude Giroux had a good night with two assists and for the series posted over a point per game with eight assists and nine points.
However with the Flyers again putting up five goals from five different players, their depth was the deciding factor.
If that weren’t enough of an obstacle for the Sabres to overcome, they weren’t prepared for the power-play to start clicking.
The Flyers tallied two very big goals on the man-advantage to put the game out of reach for Buffalo.
“I don’t know that it bailed us out but we were due,” said Chris Pronger. “Obviously we got one and a half in Buffalo, [Scott Hartnell]’s tying goal there was just after their penalty expired. So, we’ll count it as two last games and two tonight. We were going to need it early. We wanted to get up and get a lead, and make them come from behind.”
In the end, the Flyers had 11 different players score at least one goal; 16 different players record a point and five players record five points or more in the seven game series.
That, as Peter Laviolette explains, is definitely a team effort.
“There is a lot of character in that room. You have guys like Mike Richards who did a terrific job defensively for us. Chris Pronger comes back and Danny Briere always raises his level. He [Briere] is a playoff player statistically over his career. Claude Giroux has really started to spread his wings and JVR has started to take off. Kimmo Timmonen flies under the radar. Brian Boucher comes in time and time again. There is a lot of character in that room and guys that have been together for a long time. What was most impressive to me was coming back off of Game 5 and getting back in Game 6.”
|* The Flyers are now 9-6 in seventh games and 6-3 when they are played at home. They have won three consecutive seventh games dating back to the 2008 postseason.
* This is just the third time the Flyers have ever won a series that they trailed 3-2 after five games. The others were the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals vs. Boston and the 1989 Patrick Division Finals vs. Pittsburgh.
* Danny Briere’s six goals are the most for a Flyer in a playoff series since R.J. Umberger scored eight in the 2008 Eastern Conference Semifinals vs. Montreal. Briere now has 94 points (41-53-94) in 93 career playoff games.
* James van Riemsdyk recorded five shots tonight and a total of 43 in the series, which leads all playoff players.
* The Flyers put 70 shots on net tonight (36 on goal, 19 blocked, 15 missed), giving them at least 60 shots towards the goal in six of the seven games of the series.
* The Flyers are now 6-3 all time in nine series vs. the Sabres.
* The Flyers blocked 28 Buffalo shots tonight, the same number as the Sabres had on net. Chris Pronger led the way with five blocks.
* The Flyers became the first team in 23 years to win a playoff series when they have started three different goaltenders in one series. The last time occured in the 1988 playoffs when the Detroit Red Wings defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round.
|“I think it was just the magnitude of the game and what was at stake. I think we all understood that it was game seven in our building. Obviously we were fired up and excited to play.”
-- Chris Pronger
“We showed a lot of guts and resiliency throughout the whole series. It was a hard fought series. You have to respect a lot those guys on the other team. They played hard the whole series, and we had to earn everything we got.”
-- James van Riemsdyk
“Absolutely, I think we went into every game thinking we were going to win. To tell you the truth, we have a lot of confidence in the guys in this room and Game 7 was no different. I think this group believes no matter if we are down 1, 2, or 3 goals, down a couple of games in the series, we always have an edge coming back because of the guys we have in this room.”
-- Braydon Coburn
“Yeah, it’s just nice to win. You play hard all season long to try and get home ice in a situation like this and I think it was all the advantage in the world tonight. It was a good, solid victory from start to finish.”
-- Brian Boucher
|Brian Boucher was tonight’s star.
Boosh did have much work to do in the first period, but when the Flyers needed him the most, he answered the call like he had done the whole way through in the series.
Boucher stopped 26 of 28 shots to close out the Sabres and earn ALL four wins in the series with a 2.10 goals-against average and .934 save percentage.
Tonight’s turning point came when James van Riemsdyk recorded the third Flyers goal.
The third goal brought them a three-goal lead to which the Sabres could not recover, but is also marked the second goal on the power play for the team.
The goal gave the Flyers confidence that they can score effectively on a good goaltender in Ryan Miller. They can make the opposing team pay with the penalties they take, and their defense and penalty kill can shutdown their opponent when they need it the most.
|UTZ PIC OF THE NIGHT: A series tradition, the Flyers shake hands with the Buffalo Sabres.
Flyers 5, Sabres 2
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - In a series that went the distance, Brian Boucher did the same when it counted for the Flyers.
Backed by a burst of early goals, Boucher gets another round to prove he's the goalie who can lead the Flyers to their first Stanley Cup championship since 1975.
Boucher stopped 26 shots and Philadelphia advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals with a 5-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres in Game 7 of their first-round series on Tuesday night.
The Flyers raced to a 4-0 lead and chased Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller in the third.
It was a switch from the rest of the series where the Flyers had trouble in the net. They started three goalies in seven games. Boucher won Games 2 and 6 in relief, but was stout for all 60 minutes in the series clincher.
The defending conference champions must wait to learn their next opponent.
Braydon Coburn, Danny Briere, James van Riemsdyk, and Ville Leino all scored against Miller to suck the drama out of Game 7.
The Flyers surely won't complain about a rout.
"We had big-time players score big-time goals," Flyers captain Mike Richards said.
This was the Flyers team that spent a chunk of the season atop the East standings, not the one that stumbled down the stretch.