It’s too easy to blame Brian Boucher for this loss.
After all, he gave up four goals on 20 shots and was pulled from the game. Regrettably, he has not performed above his abilities during the playoffs this season. He’s let in some soft goals and been pulled more times than a sixteen-year old’s wang. His .800 SV% tonight was also woeful at best, but let’s not hang him out to dry just yet.
Bill Meltzer likes to state that bad things happen when you don’t move your feet. The Flyers skaters are providing him with plenty of evidence to support this claim. Many of the forwards have been caught standing around, out of position, or making bad decisions way too many times.
Kris Versteeg has been a big offender of this, in my opinion (although he also has other redeeming qualities). It allows the opposition more opportunities to generate offense and, for the most part, the Bruins and, to a lesser extent, the Sabres capitalized on these chances.
When a majority of the forwards are not making an impact on the game, it makes it much easier for the other team to focus on defending the few players who are playing hard. The Bruins are capable of shutting down Daniel Briere when Scott Hartnell isn’t being physical and Ville Leino is turning the puck over. They can neutralize James van Riemsdyk and Claude Giroux when nobody else is giving 100% effort. The Flyers are making life too easy on Boston by not skating hard or being physical enough from start to finish.
The team defense has been a problem for quite a while now and that puts strain on the defenders. With Chris Pronger out and both Matt Carle and Andrej Meszaros playing below their potential, Kimmo Timonen, who can no longer handle the rigors of playing the 24+ minutes per night that he’s currently averaging as a number one defender as effectively as he has in the past, is getting overworked and, consequently, exposed. He’s still been good, mind you, but not flawless.
A recurring theme throughout this season has been that it does not matter who is in net, as long as the skaters do what they are supposed to do. Whether it is because of injury — I, for one, think Mike Richards is hiding an injury — or fatigue, or mismatched lines/being out-coached (this has been covered enough by other writers so I won’t focus on it) or the ever popular reason of lacking heart or guts, the forwards and defenders are not getting the job done.
As a result, the goalies are being exposed for what we already knew them to be: players who can keep you in a game but can’t steal a game for you.
Maybe Brian Boucher isn’t Roberto Luongo but he doesn’t need to be, or shouldn’t need to be, anyway. He’s taking a lot of grief for playing as well as we know he can play when it’s the team in front of him that deserves more blame.
The duo of Brian Boucher and Michael Leighton helped this team get to the Stanley Cup Finals this season and the offense and defense was tweaked for 2011 to bring about better results with comparable goaltending but they aren’t exhibiting the same — let alone increased — effort/heart/skill/magic/determination/whatever you want to call it that they did last season.
The talent is there but the execution simply is not. That is pale shelter when you think about the fact that this club, which has been touted for months as the “deepest” in forever, is one loss away from what will be considered a failed year.