UPDATING AGAIN: After looking back at the old stories, I have discovered a flaw in my memory of "God Bless America" history. As it turns out, Lauren Hart sang the song for the first time, solo, before the last game of the 2000 playoffs -- the seventh game loss to the Devils during which Eric Lindros was knocked out by Scott Stevens. The digital duet with Kate Smith was not introduced until the home opener in 2001, just weeks after 9/11.
UPDATING: According to Darren Rovell of CNBC, Verus will alter its normal format and show the performance of "God Bless America" tonight on the Flyers-Bruins telecast.
The question has been asked on Twitter all morning, and it now has been asked in the Flyers' dressing room. Everybody is wondering what it will be like tonight during the performance of "God Bless America" before the Flyers' game against the Boston Bruins.
The song -- a digital duet performed by Lauren Hart and a video of the late Kate Smith on the scoreboard -- has never failed to excite/incite the crowd here when it has been performed, mostly in the playoffs, since the end of the 2000 season. But on the night after it was announced that the United States had found and killed Osama bin Laden, the anticipation for the song was a common topic.
"It's always crazy," Flyers captain Mike Richards said. "Every time we step on the ice, you still get chills. You never get used to it. It's something that's pretty special every time you're on the ice. Tonight is going to be no different."
Still, it might be. The pep-rallyish gatherings Sunday night after the announcement of the news were spontaneous. This one will be pre-planned.
"It will be intense," Scott Hartnell said. "There will be a lot of emotion. There's always a lot of US Army soldiers that we always acknowlege in the crowd, on the Jumbotron. Definitely, there's going to be a few tears tonight."
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As expected, Brian Boucher will start tonight in Game 2.
"Brian will go back in net today," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said, after the morning skate. "Today, for us, is a game where we all get to go back in there and right some wrongs. Everybody gets an opportunity. He deserves it."
Boucher was pulled in the second period after allowing the fifth goal in what turned out to be a 7-3 loss. But after the game, most Flyers acknowledged that Boucher had been left alone too often by the teammates in front of him.
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Chris Pronger did not participate in this morning's skate, which is not all that unusual. But the team did not practice Sunday, and Pronger left about 2 minutes before the end of Game 2 and disappeared up the tunnel. After the game, Laviolette said that Pronger was not hurt. This morning, Laviolette returned to his typical post-season stance -- that is, that he does not comment on injuries.
As we all know, Pronger is still recovering from surgery following a broken hand suffered in early March. He returned in a limited role in Game 6 of the Flyers' opening round series against Buffalo. In Game 1 against Boston, he played a regular shift and was a minus-3.