Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Heading into the playoffs, Brian Boucher's play in net was seen as the thing that would hold the Flyers back from doing any damage against the Devils. According to most experts, Boucher was the worst goaltender in the playoffs and there was no way he was going to play as well as he did a decade ago when he last saw major action in the playoffs.
Well, for at least one night, Boucher turned back the clock to the year 2000, making 23 of 24 saves en route to helping the Flyers beat the Devils, 2-1, to take a 1-0 series lead. Boosh was spectacular all night, out-dueling Martin Brodeur by making the easy stops and the big stops. For his first playoff start in eight years, Boucher made it look simple as he saw the puck well all night, flashed a strong glovehand and got in the right position to make the routine save. Sure, the Devils attack wasn't exactly overpowering, but Boucher turned aside nearly every threat except for one deflected puck late in the game that he never had a chance on.
As for the Flyers offense, they were certainly economical, scoring twice on the paltry 14 shots they took. The Flyers scored both goals in the second period, with the first goal of the ugly variety as Chris Pronger hit a puck in off the skate of a Devils defenseman and the second goal a nice shot by Mike Richards off a feed by Ian Laperriere. Although there wasn't too much Martin Brodeur could have done on either goal, getting beat twice on so few shots really isn't Brodeur-esque. I hesitate to say the Flyers have solved Brodeur but it sure seems that they haven't had much trouble scoring on him this season.
Once the Devils fell behind in the second period they couldn't muster up much of anything on offense. Coming back from 2 goal deficits isn't in the Devil game plan despite the number of opportunities the Flyers gave them to come back. Early in the third period, the Flyers gave the Devils a 4 minute power play that was followed shortly thereafter by a 2 minute power play, both of which Philly killed off with relative ease. Given how the Devils failed to generate much offense when behind, getting the early lead is clearly going to be a key for the Flyers all series long.
With the win, the Flyers have now taken home ice advantage away from the Devils. Even more encouraging, it appears that the rumors of Brian Boucher's terribleness have been greatly exaggerated. While the Flyers would love for him to stand on his head, if he can just keep himself in the right position and not let in any bad goals, the Flyers should do well in this series, especially if they can keep finding ways to beat Martin Brodeur.
Game One was a perfect example of why Flyers fans had hope when they saw that the Devils were the opponent in the first round; for some reason, Philly just seems to have their number. Taking the first game was huge but it will be up to the Flyers to ride that momentum if they are going to pull off the upset in the series.