Boucher, the ultimate team player, ends Wings' domination

     DETROIT _ Brian Boucher's 34th birthday Sunday was a memorable one.

     The veteran goalie turned aside 25 shots _ and made a remarakable glove save on Johan Franzen in the final period _ as the Flyers held off the Red Wings, 3-2, for their first win in Detroit since 1988. They had been 0-14-2 in their last 16 games in Motown.

     This space thinks rookie Sergei Bobrovsky needs to play more often, but that has more to do with him losing confidence than it does Boucher's performance.

     Simply put, Boucher has been the Flyers' best goalie lately. In his last nine starts, he is 7-1-1with a 2.10 goals-against average.

     “His body of work has been terrific. In Vancouver, we got smoked pretty good, but it might have been double if it wasn’t for him,” said coach Peter Laviolette, referring to a 6-2 defeat in which Boucher allowed four goals and was replaced by Bobrovsky.

    The Flyers tightended their defense considerably Sunday, a vast improvement over their 5-2 loss in Anaheim on Friday.

    "I though Boosh was in control from start to finish," Laviolette said. "There was no panic in him or in the team. Hats off to him, too, because we didn't have any practice (Saturday) because of the plane ride. It's tough when you're playing the top team in the West and don't get the work you're looking for. He came in and was really sharp."

    Laviolette doesn't like labeling any of his goalies as the No. 1, but Boucher has clearly become just that.

   In a difficult situation _ sharing the net with two other goalies _ Boucher has never complained.

    “When they tell me to play, I play, and I just try to take it a day at a time and come with a good attitude," he said. "That’s all you can do. To be quite honest, I can’t complain too much because I’ve had a lot of practice time."

    And, based on his current roll, he figures to get more PLAYING time. Look for Boucher to start Thursday when the Flyers play their fifth straight road game, traveling to New Jersey to face the struggling Devils _ the team Boucher excelled against in last year's conference quarterfinals.

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