Thursday, July 31, 2014
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Three things to look for in Flyers' Game 4

Three things

Three things to look for in Flyers' Game 4

Brian Boucher has allowed 12 goals against the Bruins so far this series. (Steven M. Falk / Staff Photographer)
Brian Boucher has allowed 12 goals against the Bruins so far this series. (Steven M. Falk / Staff Photographer)

The Mission Impossible version of Three Things...

1) Get a lead. And hold on to it for more then 1 minute, 39 seconds -- which is how long the Flyers held the lead in Game 3. This qualifies as, well, duh. But the really alarming thing for the Flyers has to be the way the Bruins trapped the life out of the game in the third period, and how even when they're not trapping, they can build a wall in front of goaltender Tuukka Rask when they have the score in their favor. A lead is essential.

2) Boosh. Despite the claims of some emailers, Brian Boucher has been good in this series. He might have to be really, really good in Game 4. While people think the Flyers might be able to rally around the return of forward Simon Gagne from a broken toe, if Gagne decides he can play, history suggests there is no greater rallying point than a goaltender who is stopping everything. For a night, or a period, or even a particularly-perilous sequence, goaltenders really can be the breath of life for a hockey team.

3) Blinders. They put them on horses, not hockey players, in order to focus the vision and block out distractions. It is what the Flyers need to do. In the paper today, I wrote about growing up as an Islanders fan in 1975 when they came back from an 0-3 deficit against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Their captain, who scored the game-winner in Game 7 of the comeback, was Ed Westfall. In Joe Starkey's book, "Tales from the Pittsburgh Penguins," Westfall is quoted about what it took:

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"It's not about winning the next game, it's about winning the next shift. It really simplifies it. I remember that idea resonating from practice the day before the fourth game right to the last shift of the seventh game, and that's all we thought about -- taking it a shift at a time. It was almost to the point of sickening. When you think about it, it's so repetitious.

"I was always worried we would have too many men on the ice, because guys were just dying to jump over the boards. We almost had to sedate guys between periods."

So that's what it takes.

 

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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