2010/05/13

Flyers Force Game 7

The Philadelphia Flyers are on the verge of making history Friday night by attempting to be the 3rd hockey team ever, and 4th professional team (NHL, NBA, MLB) ever to come back from a 3 games to 0 deficit. The Flyers won Game 6 at the Wachovia Center, in front of a raucous crowd, which included myself, and forced a game 7.

Teams have gone down in playoff series 3-0 in Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, and the National Basketball Association 281 times. Only 3 times has a team ever come back from such a deficit to win the series. It has happened twice in the NHL, and once in MLB. The last time it happened in the NHL was 1975. The Flyers still have their work cut out for them though, and obviously it goes without saying that to win any game in the playoffs on the road, in a Game 7 is an extremely difficult task.

The Flyers jumped out of the gates quickly in Game 6, and really dominated the play in the first half of the first period. Some great forechecking, and great work around the net to keep the puck alive by the Richards-Carcillo-Gagne line led to the first goal of the game by Mike Richards. Kimmo Timonen also did a good job pinching in on the play getting the puck out in front of the net to Gagne. The Bruins then had their chances as they took control late in the first period, and into the 2nd period. Michael Leighton was up to all the challenges though, including a first period breakaway that he saved.

Late in the 2nd period, the Flyers were about to have a long 5 on 3 power play when Chris Pronger knocked Zdeno Chara to the ice and got called for a weak penalty. However, on the 4 on 3 power play, Danny Briere blasted a shot over Rask’s shoulder and into the net. The two goal scorers in Briere and Richards continue to play really well in the playoffs.

Michael Leighton, making his first start since March 16th, played amazing. He made save after save in the 3rd period when the Bruins were really pressing. The Bruins did finally get a puck past Leighton with exactly 1 minute left in the 3rd period, but they didn’t get much pressure in the final minute, and the Flyers left the ice with a 2-1 victory, and all the momentum going into Game 7. However, momentum can change quickly, especially when you go on the road.

The Flyers need to jump out quickly, like they have the last 2 games, and get a first period lead. The last 2 games, the Flyers have scored in the first period, and it has forced the Bruins to play from behind, something they are not good at doing. The Bruins are not an offensive power; they are a physical, defensive team that likes the get the lead and sit on it. The Flyers need to make sure this doesn’t happen in Game 7. That will be easier said than done.