When it came down to a shoot-out to determine which team would qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs _ and which would be eliminated _ Flyers chairman Ed Snider wasn’t exactly in a good frame of mind while watching from his Wachovia Center suite on Sunday.
“I was bitching about the shoot-out,” Snider admitted after the game. “How can the season come down to a shoot-out?”
In the five-year history of the shoot-out, the setup has not been very good to the Flyers.
Sunday, however, was a different chapter.
Danny Briere and Claude Giroux (game-winner) scored shoot-out goals, and the much-maligned Brian Boucher stopped two of three shots as the Flyers won their season finale, 2-1.
The victory sends the Flyers into the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against second-seeded New Jersey, a team they have beaten in five of six meetings this season.
The Flyers have 5-2, 3-2 (three times, once in OT) and 5-1 wins over New Jersey.
Boucher dropped a 4-1 decision in the Flyers’ only loss to the Devils. He also was the goalie in the 5-1 win on March 28.
Back to Sunday’s shoot-out….
There was good reason for Snider’s trepidation. The Flyers were 15-27 in shoot-outs since they were instituted.
In addition, Boucher was going against one of the NHL’s premier goalies, Henrik Lundqvist, so the Flyers figured to be at a severe disadvantage.
But Boucher, stunningly, outplayed Lundqvist, setting up an intriguing Flyers-Devils series that starts Wednesday in Newark.
"We obviously need a confident goaltender going into the playoffs, and he's certainly that," defenseman Chris Pronger said.
"We got in by the skin of our fingernails, but it's a clean slate when you're in the playoffs, general manager Paul Holmgren said.
Prior to the shoot-out, Lundqvist had made 46 saves _ and was the only reason the Flyers didn't win in a rout.
"It can be disheartening when you see the other goalie playing as well as he did," Pronger said. "But he (Boucher) made some great saves early in the third....and in the shoot-out, he outdueled Lundqvist and made the saves when we needed him to."
Breakaways. Dan Carcillo had eight hits.....Simon Gagne (7 shots), Jeff Carter (6), Braydon Coburn (5), Pronger (5) and Matt Carle (5) led the Flyers' shot parade...Carle played a game-high 30:02.....The Rangers won 51 percent of the faceoffs.....The Flyers were 5-1 against the Devils and a combined 3-9-2 against Pittsburgh, Washington and Buffalo, the three other teams that were possible opponents a few days ago.
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Here is the schedule for the Eastern Conference quarterfinals:
Wednesday, April 14, 7:30 p.m. Philadelphia at New Jersey
Friday, April 16, 7:30 p.m. Philadelphia at New Jersey
Sunday, April 18, 6 p.m. New Jersey at Philadelphia
Tuesday, April 20, 7:30 p.m. New Jersey at Philadelphia
*Thursday, April 22, 7 p.m. Philadelphia at New Jersey
*Sunday, April 25, TBD New Jersey at Philadelphia
*Tuesday, April 27, 7:30 p.m. Philadelphia at New Jersey