Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Laviolette: Flyers showed "a lot of heart"

Bruins 5, Flyers 4

Laviolette: Flyers showed "a lot of heart"

Scott Hartnell (left), Danny Briere and Ville Leino watch highlights of Boston Bruins´ Patrice Bergeron´s first period goal. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)<br />
Scott Hartnell (left), Danny Briere and Ville Leino watch highlights of Boston Bruins' Patrice Bergeron's first period goal. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

OK, you decide.

Were you encouraged by the way the Flyers, from the middle of the second period on, fought back and fought back again against the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of their Stanley Cup playoff series?

Or were you discouraged by just how one-sided was the overtime, which ended after 13 minutes, 52 seconds when the Bruins’ Marc Savard, in his first game back from a concussion, launched a rocket from the faceoff dot that got by Flyers goaltender Brian Boucher?

Questions, then. And a wild, incredibly entertaining afternoon.

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From his vantage point, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette sees the glass as decidedly half-full.

“I thought the guys did a tremendous job of fighting back,” he said, after it was over. “They showed a lot of heart...I think we grew together as a team...I think we should take some confidence from the game. We grew together as the game went on.”

The Flyers crawled back from 2-0, 3-1 and 4-2 deficits and finally tied the game 4-4 at 16:38 of the third period on the kind of goal that was meant to have been scored in the age of instant replay -- Danny Briere roaring in on Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, shooting and then somehow top-shelfing the rebound.

It was the kind of individual effort that is what hockey in the spring is all about. It silenced the raucous, rollicking TD Garden. Also for the Flyers, Mike Richards had a goal and two assists, and Chris Pronger had a goal and an assist.

The game began as most people suspected -- with the Flyers on their heels after a 9-day layoff. It was entirely predictable, given all of the realities. It was the Flyers’ job to hang on and try to get back up to speed as quickly as they could -- but it took time. The Bruins were having fun playing in the traffic they were creating in front of Brian Boucher. It was 2-0 Boston after the first period, and the shots were 15-8 in favor of the Bruins, and all of that seemed about right.

“Clearly, the first period, (the layoff) affected us,” Laviolette said. “...We didn’t have our legs.”

The Flyers were much better in the second period. They started to sustain their forecheck, at least a little. And after getting crushed in the faceoff circle in the first period, losing 12 out of 19 draws, they completely flipped that stat in the second. And the goals came from the back line -- a Ryan Parent (yes, Ryan Parent) blast through traffic, and then a booming power play slap shot from Pronger that just blew through Rask. With all of that, the Bruins’ lead was 3-2 after the second period and the Flyers had hope. They had been outplayed overall, but they had their legs and they had a chance as it went to the third.

And then it played out from there. The Flyers had the momentum as the third period ended -- but then it was gone. The Bruins came out explosively to start the overtime. Boucher was spectacular, stopping two shots in the first 30 seconds and six shots in the first 2:12. And the Flyers did have at least one great chance in overtime themselves, with Dan Carcillo being stopped by Rask.

In the end, though, it was so one-sided.

Before that, it was the kind of comeback upon which the Flyers might be able to build.

Which was it? The Flyers have a day to decide.

Rich Hofmann Daily News Sports Columnist
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 Sports Columnist
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