The night started with such optimism. The Wachovia Center crowd was loud and ready to go, despite being down 2-0 in the series. (After all, you're not in trouble until you lose a game at home, right?) Asham lit the lamp two minutes into the first to give the Flyers their first series lead, set up on a beautiful pass from Claude Giroux. I shaved my playoff beard this morning in an effort to reverse series karma, and I didn't write a Game 2 wrap because I was too depressed. I figured it would somehow unjynx the Flyguys, and it seemed to be working – it seemed that the Flyers were well on their way to clawing back into the series.
Damn was I wrong.
The Bruins quickly retaliated with a goal of their own just 1:39 later on a pretty deflection by Blake Wheeler. That lone minute is the only time the Flyers have had a lead in the series. Furthermore, by the 5:45 mark of the first, the Flyers found themselves in a familiar position – trailing the Bruins. Miroslav Satan, after a huge hit by Mike Richards on Milan Lucic, escaped from the scramble with the puck in front of Boucher. Boucher, who looked helpless, tried to reach his glove out, but it wasn't in time and the Flyers were behind 2-1. I thought this guy would be done ruining the Flyers' parade since he left Buffalo.
Let's give the Flyers this – they had their legs in the first and second periods. They generated plenty of scoring chances and threw 12 shots on net , truly carrying play to the Bruins and spending much of the period on the attack. But they found themselves behind 2-1 during the first intermission. The Flyers out-shot the Bruins again in the second 15-9, and generated even more scoring chances, yet could not bury a puck. The closest the Flyers came to tying the game was a shot by Aaron Asham that hit the left post behind Tuukka Rask.
Then the usual "hey let's not show up for the last period of the game" happened. Just like overtime in Game 1 and the third period of Game 2, the Flyers were lifeless in tonight's third. The Bruins capitalized on an early powerplay after a phantom tripping call on Aaron Asham – Mark Recchi swatted home a loose puck after it hit Pronger up high to give the Bruins a 2 goal lead. The Flyers never responded. Patrice Bergeron sealed the deal with an empty netter late in the third, and the Bruins won 4-1, burying the Flyers in an almost insurmountable 3-0 series hole. If you were wondering, the Flyers are 0-6 in playoff series when down 3-0.
Here are my post-game notes and thoughts:
-While Brian Boucher was spectacular in the overtime period of Game 1, he has been average otherwise. He hasn't let in any bad goals, but he hasn't come up with the big save – which is a boost every team needs in the playoffs. If he could have stopped ONE of the Bruins three goals tonight (ie, throwing your pad out instead of flailing on the ice on the Satan goal), the game may have had a different ending.
-Tuukka Rask stood on his head. He has been playing out of his mind, with 34 more saves tonight. But have you noticed how many rebounds he has kicked out into the slot with no repercussion? The Flyers shoot low to generate rebounds, which I like. But if you're not going to bury the rebounds, what the hell is the point? When Robert Esche kicked rebounds into the slot, you can bet your ass they were buried. When Rask does it, no Flyer can find the puck because there is no one waiting in front. Frustrating to say the least. On a more general note, the Flyers haven't had trouble generating chances, but their finish has been poor to say the least.
-The Asham-Giroux-JVR line really played well tonight, especially in the first period.
-Mark Recchi has been a pest. He scored a big goal for the Bruins tonight, he's been defensively responsible, and penalty killing extremely well. It doesn't look like he's 42 years old.
-So, can the Flyers come back in this series? They have to play one game at a time. Let's start by winning on Friday. The encouraging note is that the Flyers have been in every game and have had a chance to win them all. The discouraging part is that it's the Bruins finding ways to win.