Thursday, April 23, 2009

Biron blanks Penguins to keep Flyers alive

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
In the 2008 NHL Playoffs, Martin Biron played the best hockey of his career and the Flyers rode him to the Eastern Conference Finals. This season, Biron hasn't been bad but he also hasn't been great, and the Flyers have floundered as they were pushed to the brink of elimination by the Penguins after a Game 4 defeat. If the Flyers were going to make a comeback in the series, they would need Marty Biron to play like he did last year.

Which is exactly what Biron did in Game 5 as he shut out the Penguins in a 3-0 Flyers victory. Biron held off a strong initial rush by the Penguins, who tried desperately to score the first goal, and made 28 stops in all. Marty was able to coast later in the game as the Flyers played great team defense that limited the Penguins scoring chances. It was the kind of defensive effort coupled with strong goaltending that is a staple of teams that go deep in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Flyers didn't explode offensively in this game but they did score timely goals. After a scoreless first period, the Flyers got on the board when Arron Asham netted a rare goal. Rookie sensation Claude Giroux and Mike Knuble also scored for the Flyers. It was Knuble's first goal in the playoffs and it was a long time coming.

The series will now return to Philadelphia for Game 6, something the Penguins desperately wanted to avoid. With the rabid Philly fans rocking the house, the Flyers have a huge home ice advantage. If they can find a way to win Game 6, then it's all on the line in a Game 7 where anything can happen.

I was one of the many who thought the Flyers season was over after losing Game 4. It's amazing how one win can turn all of that doubt into hope. Winning two more games, one at home and one on the road, doesn't seem like too tall of an order, especially for a streaky team like the Flyers.

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