Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Believe it: Flyers are going to Game 7

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
For the third game in a row, the Flyers played with their backs against the wall and, for the third time in a row, they have managed to survive to fight another day. Despite being outplayed for much of Game 6, the Flyers made just enough plays and got just enough good goaltending from Michael Leighton to earn a 2-1 win over the Bruins and force a Game 7 back in Boston. Now, with the Canadiens knocking off the Penguins, all that stands between the Flyers and being the higher seed in the Eastern Conference is one more win.

Before we start looking ahead to Game 7, though, let's look at the brilliance of Game 6. After getting an early goal from Mike Richards, the Bruins controlled the game for the rest of the first and most of the second period, out-shooting and out-hustling the Flyers despite not being able to score. While Leighton did play a great game in net, a lot of the credit has to go to the Flyers defense, who rarely allowed the Bruins a clean look at the net and blocked a whopping 30 shots throughout the night. After a goal by Danny Briere gave the Flyers a 2 goal lead, all they had to do was hold off the Bruins, which they did despite a goal in the final minute that made things interesting.

What Michael Leighton did in this game cannot be overstated. Coming off an injury and in his first career playoff start, Leighton stonewalled the Bruins for 59 minutes of play and stopped 30 shots in all. While much of the success of the Flyers goaltenders can be attributed to how well the team is playing in front of them, for Leighton to be that ready to play after not starting a game for nearly two months is truly remarkable. Hopefully he has another 60 minutes like that in him.

Of course, it wouldn't be a Flyers playoff game without a few injuries. Mike Richards had an early scare that forced him to go to the locker room briefly but returned and luckily showed no signs of injury. Blair Betts, on the other hand, suffered what looked like a separated shoulder and didn't play in the third period at all despite sitting on the bench. Early word from the Flyers is that Betts, the best penalty killer on the team, will suit up for Game 7.

So the improbable run continues. With how well they have played in the last three games, it's amazing to think they ever had a 3 game deficit against the Bruins. Clearly, the Flyers have learned how important it is to get an early lead against Boston and force their anemic offense to attempt to fight their way back into the game. The Bruins simply don't have the offensive firepower to create many solid scoring chances against a Flyers defense that seems to be one step ahead of them at all times.

The Flyers are clearly a team that loves to play with everything one the line, whether it be the final game of the regular season or elimination games in the playoffs. Simply put, they have basically been on borrowed time for weeks now and seem to be playing better because of it. Now, with one final elimination game to go, we'll see if this Flyers team has it in them to complete the miracle. I, for one, believe.

1 comment:

Mike said...

LETS GO FLYERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!