There's two problems with any kind of postmortem on the Philadelphia Flyers' Game 2 loss to the Boston Bruins on Monday night. The first is that they were the better team in most facets of the game, and were stonewalled by a 52-save effort by Tim Thomas, who could have defended a soccer net for four periods. Hot goalies are just going to win playoff games sometimes, no matter what you throw at them.
The second is that a 2-0 lead in a Flyers/Bruins series, based on recent history, is like a 10-second lead in the Boston Marathon. There shouldn't be a scintilla of doubt in that Flyers room right now; hell, there shouldn't be any until they're down 3-0 and losing in the last minute of Game 4, whatever middling goaltender they started seated firmly on the bench for an extra attacker.
Having climbed that mountain last year, resiliency shouldn't be difficult to conjure. Which is why Coach Peter Laviolette was passing the pressure buck to the B's in his postgame comments. From WEEI:
"We have to go into Boston and win one hockey game," Laviolette said. "Going to the well is not an easy thing to do. It's a difficult thing to do and we did it last series and we did it last year against Boston. When you lose your first two games in your home building, I would say there's a real expectation for the Bruins to win the series now. So it relieves us of the pressure, I believe, a little bit to just go in and play a game in Boston. And while it relieves us of the pressure, it certainly mounts onto them to be successful now that they have a 2-0 lead."
"I think we're going to go into Boston, we're going to play a strong hockey game, we're going to win a game. This team never quits. We get to remove some of that pressure right now and just go play, have some fun and see if we can score some more goals than we did tonight. I truly believe this team still has a lot of fight in it."
'Meh, we just need a split.' It's obviously a bit of psychological gamesmanship, but it might also be the prevailing attitude from a coach that's seen his team play better as the underdog with a foot on its throat than as the favorite eying a victory lap.
Coming up, a few more impressions of the Bruins' 3-2 Game 2 victory. Do you believe a 2-0 series lead is safe?
I'm not going to sit here and bitch and moan about a lost hockey game tonight. Truth is, the Flyers couldn't have played much better in the latter 34 minutes of the game. They threw 32 shots on Tim Thomas compared to the 12 shots the Boston Bruins threw on Brian Boucher's net in that final stretch.
Thomas stole a game. The bounces didn't go their way once or twice (or 30 times). But, they deserved to win the hockey game. It truly is no consolation at this time of year -- a loss is a loss is a loss -- but what is there to complain about? Sometimes this is a brutally unfair game, and that's part of the reason why we love it. Also, why we hate it.
From Flyers Goal Scored By, which saw Philly get "manhandled" by the Bruins checkers:
Ed Snider decided 40 years ago that we weren't going to be pushed around. Now we've got Versteeg playing games all over the ice, Briere and Carcillo embellishing the [poop] out of everything and one dangerous hitter out there. Anyone can start a post-whistle scrum. Someone needs to let the Bruins know, and maybe more importantly his teammates know, '[Expletive] the Bruins.'
Maybe I don't write this if we converted on any of our 10 decent scoring chances during the last 60 minutes of the game. As it stands, we're down 2-0 and we're also being tossed around the ice.
Jay Greenberg of CSN Philly thinks it's impossible not to think of the players who didn't appear in Game 2:
Without Chris Pronger, who missed Game 2 with a bad back that has led to a hamstring problem, and Jeff Carter, who has a knee sprain, the Flyers do not have as many ways to win on offense and defense, too.
You know it's not 2010 anymore, because with seconds to go in the regulation, Danny Briere whiffed on a wide-open net and because a rimmed puck hopped over Kimmo Timonen's stick, setting up David Krecji's winner.
Does Timonen, no spring chicken, play that puck correctly if he is not, in Pronger's absence, into his 31st minute of ice time in a surprisingly wide-open and therefore exhausting game? Would Carter, the Flyers' leading goal scorer, have put his gifted hands to one puck lying in the slot and shoot one that finally Thomas couldn't stop?
Philadelphia Sports Daily says it's not about the Flyers goalies for once:
The Flyers were able to block 22 Boston shots before they could be saved or hit the net, but in the first period they did not play inspired hockey after James van Riemsdyk's pair of goals.
"Boosh kept us in the game," Claude Giroux said. "He made some key saves, even Bob when he came in made some key saves. I think the goalies were great today. It's just too bad that we couldn't help them with that third goal."
Meanwhile, CSN New England writer Joe Haggerty would like to say "nanny nanny boo-boo" to Flyers GM Paul Holmgren as he watches Tim Thomas shine:
It seems like years ago now, but there was a time last summer when the Bruins were exploring all their salary-cap relief options. Those choices included trading Thomas and his $5 million salary cap tag to a willing team, and people close to Thomas let it be known that Philadelphia is the place he most wanted to go.
But the Flyers weren't interested in a middle-aged goaltender coming off major hip surgery and an "off season" during which he lost his starting job to young understudy Tuukka Rask. One would think Flyers GM Paul Holmgren might want to rethink that strategy after watching Thomas push his record in Philadelphia to 8-0-0 against the Flyers in the regular season and playoffs.
Yikes. That said, we're seen flawless marks in a Flyers/Bruins series get tarnished in a hurry.