It was all Bruins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals matchup between the B's and Flyers on Saturday. Boston's offense was firing on all cylinders, rippling the mesh seven times in the win.
The two teams will battle again in Philadelphia on Monday night. The B's have stolen home ice from the Flyers already, but a win would really give them control of the series. Will Game 2 be a tighter game than the first one?
Mike Santa Barbara of Get Flyer'd Up gives NESN.com his take on what happened in Game 1 and what he expects from the rest of this series.
NESN.com: The Bruins were 0-for-5 on the power play in Game 1, but still scored seven goals. Is this something that the Flyers should be concerned about? Do you see the Bruins eventually breaking out on the power play in this series?
Mike Santa Barbara: Any time you give up seven goals in a game, you should be concerned. After the Flyers' performance on Saturday, they should be very concerned. The Bruins ran a clinic on the Flyers at both ends of the ice.
The Flyers aren't nearly as bad as they played on Saturday, but the Bruins came in with a gameplan that worked to perfection. No matter how hard the Flyers tried to get something going, the Bruins were able to come back with a charge of their own. Everything the Flyers threw at the Bruins, Boston had an answer.
You have to give the Bruins credit for some good scouting. They came in well prepared and ready to play. The Flyers simply weren't ready to play and they paid for it.
The Bruins played with a lot of confidence on Saturday, which I believe will eventually lead to some success on the power play. If your team is struggling, nothing comes easy, especially on special teams.
If the Bruins are able to keep playing at the level they did on Saturday, it's hard to imagine the Boston power play won't come around at some point. Boston has a lot of weapons, and since they were able to get some of their top line scorers more involved in Game 1, after a tough first-round series, it's just a matter of time before the power play starts to click.
NESN.com: Goaltending was considered a concern for Philadelphia heading into the start of the series, and Brian Boucher was pulled after giving up five goals. Who do you think should and will start in net for the Flyers in Game 2?
MSB: Brian Boucher certainly wasn't sharp on Saturday, though most of the blame goes to the guys playing in front of him. While Boucher let in what some would categorize as "soft" goals, the Bruins were peppering the net from high percentage areas. They crashed the net aggressively, and didn't hesitate to throw pucks at the net from any angle. The Bruins obviously knew that goaltending was an area that they could try to expose, and they did the job.
The Flyers' all-around play was the main culprit, though. Like I said, Boucher wasn't sharp, but his teammates in front of him didn't give him much of a chance. Also, the way Boston was playing, a few saves here or there may not have mattered in the end anyway.
After the goalie carousel in the first round, I believe Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette has to stick with Boucher. It may not be the most popular move in Philadelphia, but the Flyers need some sort of stability after the butt kicking they got on Saturday. The last thing they needed was another goalie controversy. So, the last thing the Flyers need to do now is add fuel to that goalie controversy. If they go back to Sergei Bobrovsky, what's the next move if he falters, again? Where does it end?
The Flyers have not yet announced a starter for Game 2. However, I do believe it will be Brian Boucher between the pipes.
NESN.com: What do the Flyers need to do differently in Game 2 to avoid falling behind 2-0 in the series?
MSB: First of all, they need to actually show up ready to play.
I'm not taking anything away from the Bruins. They played fantastic in Game 1, and they clearly dominated from the drop of the puck. The Flyers came out playing flat, and could never get things going. I think the Flyers really need to ramp up their physical game, since the Bruins came in and brought the pain and the Flyers never responded.
Offensively, the Flyers need to play more aggressively, and maybe take a page out of the Bruins' book of offense. The Bruins forechecked aggressively all game long, and by the middle of the second period had the Flyers defensemen on their heels, allowing for easy entry into the offensive zone.
The Flyers offense was completely out of sync, and they need to go back to playing their game. Which is getting pucks in deep and out-working the other team along the boards. The Flyers made the mistake of trying to play more of a finesse-type of game, and they were punched in the mouth by Boston.
Defensively, the Flyers also need to play more aggressively. They seemed to finish their checks early, but were still beaten to nearly every loose puck. They routinely fell asleep in their own zone, and they made practically every mistake that can be made, aside from putting the puck in their own net.
The defense needs to stand up the Bruins at the blue line, finish checks and out-hustle the B's to the puck. Perhaps they should try spreading the defensemen out closer to the boards and having the centermen play more of a defensive role in the middle.
In short, the Flyers need to go back to the drawing board. Scrap whatever they had "planned" for Game 1, and make the kinds of adjustments necessary to play better in Game 2. Playing with some kind of intensity would be a good start.
NESN.com: How big was the Bruins’ Game 1 win in terms of the series as a whole? How do you feel about home-ice advantage in the NHL playoffs?
MSB: Winning Game 1 was huge for Boston, especially the way they won. The Bruins now know how they have to play to be successful against the Flyers, and that means a lot going into Game 2.
Winning Game 1 on the road has to be a confidence booster, and it allows Boston to play more relaxed in Game 2. The pressure is all on the Flyers now. Boston will be headed home for Game 3 with at least a split in the first two games, which is very important for a team starting a series on the road.
Obviously, you'd rather play big games at home in the playoffs, especially in huge hockey markets like Boston and Philadelphia. We saw the flip-side to home-ice advantage on Saturday. The Flyers played poorly, which took the energy out of the crowd early, and led to the crowd eventually turning on them.
NESN.com: Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette said after the game that he doesn’t believe in momentum, but that he believes in desperation? What do you think he meant, and do you believe momentum can play a factor in a playoff series?
MSB: I think what Laviolette meant by desperation was really a message to his team. He's used the word an awful lot during these playoffs when the Flyers have struggled. I believe Laviolette would like his team to play with desperation all the time. When the Flyers' backs are against the wall, they play with desperation. And more often than not, they usually come out and play some of their best games.
When there is room for error, they show up small. They don't seem to really get going until their chances are almost up. I think Laviolette is trying to instill the kind of "killer instinct" the Flyers play with when they are the verge of collapse, rather than the apathetic type of effort they've played with at the beginning of both Rounds 1 and 2.
Momentum can go a long way in a playoff series. It all depends on how a team uses momentum to their advantage. Going back to what Laviolette was saying, I believe momentum is built by playing the game with desperation, or urgency, much like the Bruins played on Saturday.
For the majority of the game, the Bruins played like it was a must-win. The Flyers showed up like it was Game 1, a game they could afford to lose. When you get contrasting efforts like that, you end up with a lopsided game.
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