Before Saturday’s wildly entertaining playoff game at the Wells Fargo Center, a source close to the situation said it was “50/50” that Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger would play Monday.
But after the Flyers eked out a 5-4 win over Buffalo and evened the series at one game apiece, he changed his tune.
“He’s probably out Monday,” he said.
The implication: If it was a “must” win Monday in Buffalo, there was a much better chance the Flyers would have rolled the dice with Pronger, who has been sidelined for more than a month because of hand surgery.
Now they head to Buffalo needing to win just one of two games to regain the home-ice advantage.
For a team that went 25-11-5 on the road this season, that doesn’t seem like such a daunting task _ with or without Pronger.
That’s not to suggest the Flyers don’t have a lot of work ahead of them. They do. Especially on special teams.
They were just 1 for 10 on the power play Saturday and are 1 for 15 in the series.
They gave Buffalo three first-period power plays, and the Sabres scored on two of them.
“It’s a fine line, crossing over to being too emotional and taking too many penalties,” center Danny Briere said.
The first period ended tied at 3-3.
“We needed to kind of settle down a little,” defenseman Sean O’Donnell said. “It’s hard when you’re asked to play on the edge and the fans are in it and they like seeing that stuff. But you get running around a little bit and I think we got a little bit away from our game in the first…Sometimes playoff hockey is about who is more composed, who plays the system better, who takes that punch to the head. I think we did a better job of that” after the first period.
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From here, Claude Giroux was the game’s best player. Giroux was plus-2 and had a goal, an assist, five hits and four shots. He also won half of his 22 faceoffs.
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Rookie Sergei Bobrovsky appeared skittish as he allowed three goals on seven shots and was removed from the game after 12:30. In a relief role, veteran Brian Boucher stopped 20 of 21 shots to key the win.
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So who should start in goal Monday in Buffalo, Boucher or Bobrovsky?
There are good arguments on both sides.
For those in “Bob’s” corner: Boucher seems better suited in a relief role than Bobrovsky because of his experience. In addition, Bobrovsky has been more effective on the road than Boucher.
For those in Boosh’s corner: Boucher has been the steadier goalie this season, and his experience gives the team a calming effect.
After the game, coach Peter Laviolette went out of his way to point out that Bobrovsky has bounced back after a rough outing.
Was he hinting that “Bob” would get the call Monday, or was it a smokescreen?
If it was my choice, I would go with Boucher. Right now, the team clearly looks more confident with him behind them _ and that should be the determining factor.
Who would you start?
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Winger Andreas Nodl suffered an upper-body injury Saturday and played just six shifts that totaled 3:43. Nodl will be re-evaluated Sunday, and Nik Zherdev may take his spot in Game 3.
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In franchise history, the Flyers are 14-17 in Game 3 of a series that is tied at one win each…..The six combined first-period goals equaled the most in a Flyers playoff game since a 1997 matchup with the Rangers….The Flyers had a staggering 9:49 of power-play time in the second period….Braydon Coburn led the Flyers with six in hits….Buffalo defenseman Andrej Sekera, who scored a first-period goal, had missed Game 1 and the last two regular-season games with an undisclosed upper-body injury. He replaced injured defenseman Shaone Morrisonn.
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