One of the best assets of the day-to-day living of an NHL player or coach, especially when the pressure is on, is the ability to play a game and then forget the outcome.
Hopefully, there are 20-some Flyers who possess that trait, in the wake of Saturday’s 7-3 drubbing at the hands of Boston on home ice.
Losses of this magnitude are maddening, if not historical. It was the first time the Bruins put up seven goals since Game 5 of their 1988 Wales Conference Final against New Jersey, and the first time the Orange and Black surrendered that many since Buffalo’s strafing job to close out their 2006 first-round set.
Psychologically, losing Game 1 at home, when you also have Game 2 at home, isn’t such a horrible thing.
Dropping that game by a four-goal margin seems to have cleared the decks, and caused a total absence of pretense, and several Flyers admitted as much after the game Saturday. Quoth Danny Briere:
“I don’t think anybody in here is happy with the way we played this afternoon. Everybody could have been better. You can’t blame just the goalies or just the defensemen.
“I think all their lines gave us trouble, to be honest. We didn’t compete against anybody. We let them get ahead of us in an area they are strong at, which is getting to the net. We got outworked, and they were able to find the rebounds.”
and Kimmo Timonen, in that infamously laconic Finnish manner, blunted the point even further:
“We knew what they were going to try to do and they still did that. It wasn’t that they did anything special or were so much better. It was all about us and how we played and we were brutal today.”
Although losing by one goal may look so much better in the ledger, there are a hundred little things that can come back to haunt a player or coach — things from faceoff wins to errant passes to shots not taken — that may convince them that only a little adjustment here and there is necessary.
And as far as the question of goaltending is concerned, we should be concerned…even if the goaltenders or the head coach is not.
Brian Boucher didn’t pull punches about his performance:
“As a goaltender, I’m responsible for stopping the puck. It’s always a wake up call to come out. It seems to be one of the last things coaches can do, instead of yelling at the guys or taking a timeout. That’s the way it goes.“
He didn’t go far enough. Simply put, beyond any defensive irresponsibility, Boucher was at fault for three of the five goals he gave up. You wipe those obvious miscues way, and it’s a one-goal game.
Nathan Horton’s first goal of the contest:
Here, the defense is not responsible for rebound control. If memory serves, the goaltender is the last line of defense — that’s why they have the pads and the fancy equipment. If Boucher was solid on the first shot, why does he look so ridiculous waving his glove and knocking in the second shot which was much slower than the first?
And when the Ageless One aka Mark Recchi had two lightning-quick chances early in the second, look at Boucher square up perfectly on the first, then awkwardly try to get his glove on the rebound while sweeping it against his left leg, only to see it drop behind him in slo-mo:
And then, there’s Brad Marchand’s score, the one which finally persuaded Peter Laviolette to make a change:
Again, while you can fault the defenseman for allowing Marchand to get in front alone, what separates total blithering idiocy like yesterday from a goaltender who is capable of winning your team a game or two, is the ability to snag a rebound.
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that even Martin Biron could have knocked down the second shot.
For good measure, can you tell me that Sergei Bobrovsky was even in the same zip code for this one?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but it appears he’s looking behind where David Krejci is on the other side of the net. Not good.
Anyway, the modus operandi for Monday night is simple. Do exactly none of what they did on Saturday afternoon, from the forwards to the defense to whoever mans the crease.
It’s another telling statistical oddity that the Flyers have won three of five all-time series with the Bruins, but are a whopping 0-6 in Game 1. Let’s hope key figures on the club are actually aware of this fact as they profess to have wiped their ugly loss from their collective memories.
Facing adversity is something every successful team does in a deep playoff run, but when the adversity comes from within, the outcome is far less certain.
If the Flyers insist that this was their worst effort yet, and there was no attitude or drive or whatever other intangibles apparent, then we have to take them at their word. Frankly, there isn’t much lower to go than this.
We have until 7:30 PM tomorrow to dwell on it. After that, this message will self destruct.