Friday, May 7, 2010

Welcome back! Gagne's OT goal keeps Flyers alive

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Yeah, I'd say the return of Simon Gagne had quite an impact on the Flyers.

Gagne, returning to the ice for the first time since breaking his foot against the Devils in the first round, scored the game winning goal in overtime to help the Flyers stave off elimination and send the series back to Boston. It was a fitting end to the game for Gagne, who was a true warrior as he toughed out his clearly still hurting foot injury to give the Flyers every ounce of energy he had in the tank.

While Gagne's heroics made for a great end to the game, it never should have gotten to that point. After somehow playing with no sense of urgency for most of the first period, the Flyers found their legs late in the first as they cashed in with a goal by Danny Briere. From there, the energy carried over into the second period as the Flyers continued to dominate play and chipped in two more goals to get out to their first 2 goal lead of the series. At that point, with the way they were playing, the game appeared to be in the bag.

Of course, this is the Flyers we are talking about and they never make things easy. First, Brian Boucher misplayed a puck midway through the second to let the Bruins back into the game. Then, as they protected a one goal lead with 32 seconds left, the Flyers somehow forget to cover Mark Recchi, who had a terrific shot that got past Boucher and sent the game into overtime. While many will point to those events as being evidence that the Bruins never give up they can also be pointed to as mental lapses by a team that has trouble putting their opponent away.

Regardless of their inability to hold on to a lead, the Flyers live to play another day. While most signs point to this series being over sooner rather than later, you really can't count the Flyers out until the series is completely over. With how evenly matched these teams are, if the Flyers work hard and get a few bounces going their way, they can extend this thing far enough to start making the Bruins uncomfortable.

Thank you, Simon Gagne, for returning and giving us at least one more Flyers game this season. Now, if you could just do that three more times...

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