On The Back Of Bouch, A Decade Later

91216970
Welcome to Adamn Gonsiewski, new contributor to Crossing Broad.


Don’t pop the champagne bottles
just yet. The inconsistent New York Rangers showed up just in time to defeat
the Toronto Maple Leafs on home ice tonight, temporarily saving their playoff
hopes. While the outcome might seem unimportant, the Blueshirts’ victory means
the Flyers must win
one more game to
clinch a playoff spot, who head into postseason play for the third consecutive
year with two more points.  The Flyers
and Rangers face off this weekend in an important home-and-home series, each
team’s final two games of the season, to determine who will play postseason
hockey and who will dust off their golf clubs. Or in Sean Avery’s case,
continue fashion designing aspirations.
[Evidence: Avery Interns at
Vogue
]

It should not have come down to
these last two games; the job should have been done earlier. As most Flyers
fans have been reminded over and over again throughout the season, these Flyers
were deemed favorites to win the Stanley Cup by some analysts before the
season. But there’s a reason games are played and not won on paper. Despite a
roster backboned by Chris Pronger, the Flyers have never gained an
identity.  Often concerning, when push
came to shove, the Flyers have rolled over (with the exception of Ian
Laperriere). The situation was exacerbated with injuries to goalies Ray Emery
and Michael Leighton, which forced Brian Boucher to be thrown into a tight
playoff chase.

While most teams have the confidence
to overcome a bad goal or ticky-tack call, your 2009-2010 Flyers have proven
more times than not that they can’t. They lack the confidence. They lack the
consistent play.  If Brian Boucher can
limit the bad goals (see
Worst goal ever? ) and make the
crucial stops necessary to prevent momentum swings against the Orange and Black
(see his game-saving paddle save versus Toronto Tuesday night), the Flyers
could have a surprising playoff run.  It shouldn’t always come down to the
goaltending, but for these Flyers, it often does; they have seldom bailed out
their goalies all year.

Although Boucher is far from an
ideal playoff goalie, he has shown the propensity to get hot. He rattled off
five consecutive shutouts with the Phoenix Coyotes back in early 2004. He
helped the Flyers into the Eastern Conference Finals in 2000. More recently,
Boucher had a pretty good run back in December before he lost the starting job
to Leighton due to an untimely hand laceration.  Despite the Flyers treading water for the last
few weeks, Boucher has only let up 4 goals in his last three games, culminating
in a shutout last Tuesday night and the Flyers’ first two-game winning streak
in nearly a month.  Maybe, just maybe, he
is on the verge of another hot streak just in time for the playoffs. With the
return of Jeff Carter , the Flyers’ top goal-scorer, and some clutch saves from
the netminder, the Flyers will make the playoffs, and could even upset their
first round opponent and advance further than their fans and most “analysts”  expect. Not surprisingly for the Flyers, it
all rides on Boucher.

Flyers
Files:

 - If you erased it from your memory, recall
the Rangers beat the Flyers at the Wachovia Center on the final game of the
season last year, 4-3, to ruin their playoff home-ice advantage. Hopefully the
Flyers can avenge that loss come Friday night at MSG.

-With
Jeff Carter being cleared to play, expect to see him in the lineup on Friday
night. If the Rangers lost tonight (thereby clinching a playoff spot of the
idle Flyers), Carter probably would have been held out until the playoffs to
prevent injury.

-With
the return of Carter, expect to see Claude Giroux’s playing time cut by a few
minutes. Giroux, the Flyers’ most dynamic player late last season, has a
two-game goal streak and six points in his last five games. Hopefully he can
keep contributing from a diminished role, assuming Carter does in fact return.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *