2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs – Semifinals Game 1 Recap
Eastern Conference Semifinal Game 1 - Boston 7, Philadelphia 3 – Bruins lead series, 1-0
From a cynic’s perspective, the Boston Bruins merely set themselves up for another wrenching and unspeakably depressing series loss on Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The team that lost a 3-0 series lead to the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals got off to another roaring start in a best-of-seven battle.
Yes, it’s better to be up a game than down a game in the postseason, but all this commanding victory will do is create the expectation that Boston must now finish the job against an opponent whose goaltending situation shows no signs of improving.
It’s going to be something else if Philadelphia climbs back from a Game 1 rout and wins this series, because the Flyers continue to get shaky and inconsistent goaltending from a three-man committee that can never find one shutdown guy. When starting goalie Brian Boucher got chased midway through the second period of this contest thanks to a three-goal Boston barrage that made the score 5-1 in favor of the visitors, it wasn’t the first time such an event had taken place in these playoffs. Boucher got chased in Game 5 of the first round against Buffalo, and Philly’s other two goalies – Michael Leighton and Sergei Bobrovsky – have also been chased before playing 60 full regulation minutes. The Flyers’ rotation of netminders has been able to piece together just enough excellence to win in the postseason over the past 13 months, with Leighton actually standing tall against Montreal in last year’s East finals, but now it seems that nobody is ready to completely stonewall the opposition between the pipes.
It all brings the focus back to Boston: Can the Bruins, against a supremely vulnerable foe, finish the job they couldn’t complete last year? Based on Game 1, this is entirely Boston’s series to lose.
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Nathan Horton scored yet again to break a 1-all tie with 36 seconds left in the first period, and that goal – which gave the Bs a lead heading to the locker room for the first intermission – generated a great deal of confidence in the third seed’s locker room. Boston came roaring out of the gate in the second period and used three goals – one apiece by Mark Recchi, David Krejci, and Brad Marchand – to gain a four-goal advantage, which was more than enough to withstand a modest two-goal response by the Flyers. Boston’s lead was trimmed to 5-3 with 6:58 remaining in the third on a goal by Philly’s Mike Richards, but just 1:57 later, Marchand scored his second goal of the game to make the score 6-3 with 5:01 left, and the Flyers’ rally effectively died right there.
Philadelphia needs quality goaltending in the worst way, and if that does happen, full credit to the second seed and defending champion in the East. However, if the Flyers don’t play brilliant defense yet still figure out a way to win this series, the Boston Bruins are never going to hear the end of it.
The pressure’s on them now more than ever… that’s what an easy win will do, one year after blowing a three-game lead in a best-of-seven series.
By: Matt Zemek
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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