Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Flyers force Game 7

On to Game 7.

Flyers force Game 7

Danny Briere celebrates his second period goal.  The Flyers are hoping to force Game 7 with a win.  (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)
Danny Briere celebrates his second period goal. The Flyers are hoping to force Game 7 with a win. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

Game 7. Really.

The Flyers have now climbed out of the deepest hole that a playoff team can dig. The Flyers are now on level ground with the Boston Bruins again, some way, some how.  In the last week, impossible has become improbable, and then improbable has become possible, and then on Wednesday night at the Wachovia Center, possible became reality.

Flyers 2, Bruins 1.

Game 7, Friday night in Boston.

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For the first time in 35 years, an NHL team has gone from 0-3 to Game 7. Sensing the historical possibilities, the Wachovia Center crowd did the berserker thing, right from the start. The Flyers came out storming, and Mike Richards scored the first period goal that gave them the critical 1-0 lead. The goal was a cinch for Richards, a rebounded puck sitting quietly in front and a vast expanse of open net in front of him. He did not miss, and it was a good thing.

Because for the last few minutes of the first period, and nearly all of the second period, the Bruins pressured the Flyers pretty relentlessly. They did not get a ton of great chances against Flyers goaltender Michael Leighton, but they logged a bunch of time in the Flyers' end and really controlled the play in a way that they have not done for most of the series.

Then came the back-breaker. The Flyers were on a 2-man advantage after penalties to the Bruins' Marc Savard and Daniel Paille. Then it was a 4-on-3 advantage after Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger knocked down Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara in a heavyweight battle in which Chara went down like a lightweight. And suddenly gifted with the extra bit of open ice, the Flyers' Danny Briere scored his sixth goal of the playoffs on a play when he lost control of the puck momentarily to Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk, then got it right back and beat Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask high to the glove side.

Soon after that score, the out-of-town scoreboard updated for the final time: Montreal 5, Pittsburgh 2 in Game 7 of the other Eastern Conference semifinal. The eighth seed in the East has now advanced. The Flyers are now one win away from having the home-ice advantage in the conference final.

But it wouldn't be a Flyers playoff game without an injury update. In this case, it is penalty-killer/backbone guy Blair Betts, who did not play a shift in the third period after skating to the bench in obvious pain near the end of the second period. As of the end of the game, the Flyers had made no announcement about his status.

Daily News Executive Sports Editor
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About this blog
Rich Hofmann arrived at the Daily News in 1980 for a job whose status was officially designated as "full-time, temporary." A senior at Penn at the time, he was hired to fill in on the copy desk during a staff illness. The notion of him covering the Eagles or being a columnist did not exist in anyone's imagination. It was supposed to be six weeks and out, but he never left. It is only one of the reasons why so many people have concerns about him as a potential house guest. Rich has blogged the postseasons of the Flyers and Eagles. E-mail Rich at hofmanr@phillynews.com Reach Rich at hofmanr@phillynews.com.

Rich Hofmann Daily News Executive Sports Editor
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