2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs – First Round Series Recap
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 1 - Buffalo 1, Philadelphia 0 – Sabres lead series, 1-0
If the first games of each Eastern Conference opening-round series are any indication, we’re in for a lot of stolen wins, scoring droughts, and panicky offensive superstars.
Its goalie season in the East as the Stanley Cup Playoffs get off the ground. In each of the four Game 1s from this half of the NHL’s playoff bracket, one team held a 1-0 third-period lead. The only team that managed to score a 1-0 victory was none other than the Buffalo Sabres.
Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller saved all 35 shots that he saw and recorded his second career postseason shutout in the first game of this Eastern Conference quarterfinal clash. Patrick Kaleta scored in the third period to lift the Buffalo Sabres to a 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Arena in the City of Brotherly Love. On the same night that sixth-seeded Montreal upended third-seeded Boston on the road by a 2-0 score, the Sabres won the same kind of game with the same tremendous goaltending performance. What Carey Price did in Boston was matched – if not exceeded – by Mr. Miller in Philadelphia, as the defending Eastern Conference champions were immediately put behind the eight-ball once more.
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These two clubs have played each other eight previous times in the postseason, and the Game 1 winner won the series each time. This is a very good omen for Buffalo. Kaleta broke the scoreless tie early in the third when he smoked a shot past the Flyers’ rookie netminder Sergei Bobrovsky.
Being down 1-0 in a series is nothing new to these Flyers. In fact, it seems as though they are a better hockey team when they are down in a series. No team was more resilient in last year's playoffs than the Flyers. As many know, the Flyers were down 3-0 in the East semifinals against the Boston Bruins before taking the series and playing far beyond that point, all the way until a Game 6 loss to Chicago in the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals.
This is not to say that the Flyers like to lose and would rather be down as opposed to having a series lead, but history does suggest that the Flyers play better hockey when their backs are against the wall.
Game 2 is Saturday in Philadelphia. Will the Flyers bring better energy and get one past Miller? They don’t have to be artful about it, but they do have to achieve their most fundamental task. The back might not be against the wall yet, but it’s getting close for the Broad Street boys.
By: Matt Zemek
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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