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Daily Times beat writer Anthony J. SanFilippo takes you inside the locker rooms of the Philadelphia Flyers and the rest of the NHL.

Friday, April 22, 2011

BOUCHER THE ONLY ANSWER FOR GAME 6

Peter Laviolette said he's going to sleep on his goaltender decision for Game 6... but won't make a public declaration Saturday.

That's fine, it's all part of the gamesmanship of the playoffs.

But if Laviolette is a smart coach, and there's plenty of evidence to prove that is the case, he will go back to Brian Boucher in goal for Game 6.

Really, there's no other choice.

Here's why:

He's the best goalie they have when it comes to dealing with the pressure of an elimination game.

Yes, Michael Leighton did the job in three elimination games against Boston last season - but don't forget the Bruins were bereft of any offensive talent whatsoever at that point and the Flyers had a date with destiny.

That was also pre-back injury Leighton. He's a lot different now. He's good enough to win in the AHL, but not the NHL - otherwise he'd have played more than one NHL game this season AND he wouldn't have started the playoffs third on the depth chart.

He's fine in an emergency, but once again you saw his weaknesses in Game 5. He allowed just one goal - the game winner, but it was a big rebound - something he is prone to giving up.

Not to mention, he looked shaky throughout the rest of the game. There were a few shots he stopped with good positioning, but there were a lot of close calls too. He seemed rusty. He seemed a little slow - no matter what the players and coaches say about him calming things down - he went untested until late in the third period.

As for Sergei Bobrovsky, he might have the most skill, talent and upside, but he is a not-ready-for-prime-time player. Let's talk Bobrovsky down the road. For now, he's a non-factor.

Which leaves Boucher.

Yes, he gave up a pair of unsightly goals in the first period. Yes he put his team in a bad spot by only stopping eight of 11 shots before leaving the ice, trailing the game 3-0. Yes he is a journeyman and, to most observers, no better than a backup.

But, he is best prepared to handle the rigors of a Game 6 in Buffalo. Remember, until the crazy first period ensued, Boucher led all goalies in save percentage in the playoffs - better than Henrik Lundqvist. Better than Roberto Luongo. Better than Antti Niemi. Better than Marc-Andre Fleury. Better than Carey Price. Better than all of them.

And now, after a horrible performance - the worst of his career and the first time in 32 career playoff starts that he was yanked - Boucher wants another crack at it.

“I’d very much like to redeem myself,” Boucher said. “It was my responsibility tonight. I take ownership in that. To put your team in a hole like that in such an important game – they didn’t deserve that. I’d to get a second crack at it. We’ll see what happens.”

If you listen to Leighton, he's already resigned to the fact that it's Boucher's series to lose.

"I definitely want to play but Boosh has done a great job to get us in this situation and tonight was one of those nights," Leighton said. "Two of those goals... you can probably take 100 shots from there and you might score one, so it's a tough bounce. (Like Patrick Kane in Game 6 of the Cup Finals, but I digress) We have confidence in Boosh. He's going to bounce back and play a good one in Buffalo."

Boucher wants to get back in the net. Leighton wants him there too. All that's left is for Laviolette to wake up tomorrow and realize the same thing - it's his best and only choice.

"I'll bounce back," Boucher said. "I'm a pretty resilient person. I'm pretty upset right now, I'm not going to lie to you. It was a big game and I wanted to have a good start and I didn't have that."

There's no guarantee Boucher will win Game 6 - or both Game 6 and Game 7 for that matter, but if you're playing the odds, he's a better bet than anyone else.

...........................

On a separate note, but still related tot he goaltending situation, it was a little more than a year ago that I was talking to Flyers' president Peter Luukko in the press box and he told me the Flyers couldn't continue to go on the same way with the goalies.

"We can't keep going the same way we have year after year," Luukko said. "We have to go in a different direction with goaltending - get someone young and stick with him."

That was before the unexpected run to the Finals. Before Leighton's magic act. Before Boucher's gutsy first round performance.

But, they did follow what Luukko said - and tried to turn things over to Bobrovsky. But, that didn't work either - at least not now.

Once again the offseason will be ripe with questions about goalies. Will the Flyers ever learn? Or will we see another playoff with the two of the three goalies currently in the mix trying to win a Cup again?

It seems like the vicious circle that will never end. Pity.

4 Comments:

Blogger Tony C. said...

Hello Anthony, Tony here...Let me say from the start that you could not have written a better article...That being said let me please make one correction that sorry to say will not effect the out come...The final score was Flyers 3 earned Buffalo 2 + 2 freak goals that Boosh would not give up in another 50 years...See no change to the result...He without a doubt should get the nod..Leighton doesn't want it, perhaps because it's a do or die game and there isn't going to be an " I'll do better next time" who knows or at this point cares. I watched this game and the highlights 100 times because I thought at first the Flyers played a bad game....I was wrong,(don't tell my wife I admitted to that) They played a pretty good game and if not for (once again) Miller it would have been a cake walk. He has been a pain in the side of every team that he plays against,with extra merit to us in this series since he may be the reason we go home early..I was born and raised in South Philly a True Fan Forever (currently living in Vegas) so I am Numb to the thought of the Flyers Or Eagles ever winning another Championship other then a division, and it is as you hinted to.. Truly a Sad Situation that we WILL stay in that circle and continue to break the hearts of the Players passing through and the Die-Hard Fans who can only watch and argue by the water coolers of America and Beyond. Again Good Article, Keep it Up..Ynotflyers..Really God,y-not ?

April 23, 2011 at 12:37 PM 
Blogger sregdoor said...

Anthony - you raise an interesting point with the second part of this blog. What do you think would have happened after last season if the Flyers had lost the shootout and not made the playoffs. There were rumors at the time that they were going to trade some of the young players for an experienced goalie. Do you think the long playoff run saved the Flyers from trading players like Giroux and/or JVR?

April 25, 2011 at 8:22 AM 
Blogger Tony C. said...

Seems were ok so here it goes...I do without a doubt think that last years entry into the playoffs made a difference. The outcome gave the front office a change in direction for the offseason other then, O we need to do something about the goaltending situation....But if you would be so kind as to give me a few minutes, I would like to introduce you to me...A bit of history and some opinions...I was at age 8 put in the goal by my older Brother,a year before the Flyers joined the NHL.I thought at the time he was being cool and letting me play with the big guys.Well it turned out they just wanted a target, but I liked it an through the years became a damn good goalie. I played in the street, on wheels and in several leagues on ice...I feel that Hockey is one of the few TEAM sports. I was a no fear goalie, afraid of nobody's shot, or moves. This was important because it gave my team the opportunity to always have one step heading up ice. Now (in the case of a team like the Flyers who have good goalies but not A game goalies), your Defense has to be there to block shots and help out. Still playing as a team, each guy covering for the other to form an offensive and defensive flow...Not one guy carrying all the weight....PLEASE VOID...Any Bobby Orr tapes,sorry to say we will never see another Orr, the game has changed to much for that.. This brings me to my distaste for the shootout...I hate it..a shootout has no place in determining the outcome of a tie game in a team sport....Sorry but I had to get that out !!! Back to your question about the Flyers and my comment...I have been a Fan long enough to have seen our Flyers and Eagles go year after year with the same ongoing problems, and I do firmly believe that the front office's want it just that way ! Really I do.Weather it's because it keeps the Fans involved because of it's being so obvious or they just like always having an area to point fingers at, it's what I think...Will it ever change....Yes...When...When the rest of the team can no longer keep climbing out of the holes their put into and the fans can no longer count on them to bring it back to a battle...I don't know if in Philly the Fans will ever stop believing (I myself don't think so)but I'm telling ya, the front office can't possibly want to make what we the Fans think is the final adjustment and/or addition. Last years entry bought them another season of sold out seats and interested and involved Fans....Sorry this was so long...I have been reading up on you and your work...I will say I value your opinion so please let me have it....If you think I'm way off base let me know....Always a pleasure my friend. Now I have to take my son Anthony to work and maybe do some myself....Na, I'm taking off till after game 7...Have a great day...talk soon. Ynotflyers...Tony

April 26, 2011 at 10:04 AM 
Blogger Tony C. said...

Anthony what do you think about the situation with Boston and the Habs maybe having to play back to back games ?? also....Have you noticed that there are a few teams now going through goalie ups and downs...I guess Tampa doesn't want to go home either..(I knew this would be a cat fight)...I half wanted to see the Kings get in....SJ is a team that will self destruct I think, it's just a matter of who they take out first.....So thats it from me for now...when you get a min. get in touch

April 26, 2011 at 5:09 PM 

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