2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs – Semifinals Game 2 Recap
Eastern Conference Semifinal Game 2 - Boston 3, Philadelphia 2 (OT) – Bruins lead series, 2-0
The smart alecks in the crowd will say that the Philadelphia Flyers almost have the Boston Bruins right where they want them. The realists, while mindful of what happened 12 months ago, are calmly pointing out that the Flyers are playing with fire… and getting scorched.
That’s what happens when a team runs into a hot goaltender.
Yes, the Bruins did lose a three-game series lead to the Flyers last may in the Eastern Conference semifinals, but it’s going to be hard to imagine a repeat of that scenario. The Bs went into Philadelphia on Monday night and completed a sweep of the first two games in the City of Brotherly Love. As the series shifts to Beantown for Games 3 and 4, the Bruins know that a mere split will give them a 3-1 series lead and force the Flyers to win three, maybe four, elimination games in a row for the second straight NHL postseason. Those are odds the second-seeded folks from Philly can’t be too excited about. If Boston faced a lot of demons before this series began, those demons seem a lot smaller and less threatening now that the third seed from New England has attained a pronounced advantage.
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The two East semifinal series in these hockey playoffs are really rather similar on a number of levels. In Tampa Bay-Washington, the Lightning won the first two games of the series on the road thanks to 41-year-old goaltender Dwayne Roloson, who is operating at the peak of his powers. Boston cemented its own 2-0 advantage on the road Monday night because of 37-year-old netminder Tim Thomas. It’s true that Thomas isn’t playing as well as Roloson, but the second-oldest goalie in the playoffs (behind, of course, Roloson himself) clearly played his best game of the NHL’s second season in Game 2.
Thomas got smoked for two goals in the first 9:31 of Monday night’s tilt, as Philly’s white-hot James van Riemsdyk scored his sixth and seventh goals of the postseason to stake the Flyers to a 2-0 lead. However, the Broad Street Bullies didn’t find the back of the net again. Thomas stoned the boys in orange, saving 46 shots in a row en route to a 52-save performance and an exhilarating overtime win. Boston made up the two-goal deficit on scores by Chris Kelly and Brad Marchand later in the first period, and after a pair of scoreless stanzas in the second and third periods, David Krejci – who led the charge for the Bs in Saturday’s Game 1 romp – beat Philly goaltender Brian Boucher at 14:00 of overtime to catapult the Bruins into the catbird seat. The win should give wings to the Boston camp, while forcing the Flyers into the desperation mode that’s become quite familiar over the past few seasons.
Yes, Philadelphia knows how to play well when the outlook is grim, but let’s be honest: One can only cheat death so many times. The Flyers are taking this series too far… and as a result, this series might not go too far when all is said and done.
By: Matt Zemek
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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