Flyers believe they'll make history
For the Flyers, the Miracle March is gaining momentum. They are halfway toward becoming the third team in NHL history to win a playoff series after losing the first three games. Toronto accomplished the feat in 1942, and the New York Islanders did it in 1975.
For the Flyers, the Miracle March is gaining momentum.
They are halfway toward becoming the third team in NHL history to win a playoff series after losing the first three games. Toronto accomplished the feat in 1942, and the New York Islanders did it in 1975.
The Flyers, who have won two straight to narrow Boston's series lead to three games to two in the Eastern Conference semifinals, want to join that select group. Fact is, they believe they will join that group - even though they have lost the services of another starting goalie.
"Without a doubt, I would love to be part of the next team to be able to do it," center Danny Briere said after Tuesday's practice in Voorhees. "I'd be lying to you if I said I didn't care about that, or if I didn't believe we can do it."
It has been a roller-coaster ride of a season, one in which coach John Stevens was fired, injuries rocked the roster, and the team's inconsistent play caused it to need a shoot-out win in the final game just to reach the playoffs.
"With everything we've gone through this year, we never quit," Briere said. "Why not? Why not us? Why not our turn now? I really believe that if there's a team that can definitely do it, it's us."
"Even when we were down 3-0, we had the feeling we could win the series," said winger Simon Gagne, who has three goals in the two games he has played since returning to the lineup. "The first two games in Boston could have gone either way. . . . But it's best of seven and we're still alive and it's still right there for us."
Despite Monday's injury to goalie Brian Boucher - his season is likely done because of a sprained ligament in his left knee - the Flyers were upbeat Tuesday.
Now it's Michael Leighton's turn, again, on the goalie carousel. Goalies Ray Emery and Boucher have been sidelined two times each with injuries, and Leighton relieved Boucher on Monday in his first game since suffering a high ankle sprain March 16.
"We've had a really tough year on goalies, but we always find a way to battle through it," Gagne said. "It's really sad we lost Brian. In the playoffs, he was definitely our best player."
Gagne added that, "on the other side, we were kind of lucky. Michael came back and I think he was our best player before he got hurt. . . . In the playoffs, your best player has to be your goalie. If your goalie plays well, your team is going to play with a lot of confidence. You're not scared to make a mistake [because] you know your goalie is good enough to make the save. Brian was able to do that for us, especially in the first series against Jersey. Without him, I don't think we win that series."
Boucher had a 1.59 goals-against average against the Devils.
"Boosh did a great job; he got us to this point," coach Peter Laviolette said. "He came in here as more of a backup, and he got an opportunity to run with it and he handled it well. I'm sure he's disappointed and I feel for him, but we have to move on, and Michael's healthy and we have to focus on that."
Leighton, Gagne said, "was No. 1 before he got hurt. He was the reason we were able to get into the playoffs."
"We have confidence with him," said captain Mike Richards, adding that the pressure is on the Bruins to close out the series.
Richards and Briere said the Flyers weren't getting the breaks in the first three games of the series.
"Sometimes there's not much of a difference between a win and a loss, between a goal and a save," Briere said. "Sometimes [it's] just bounces going your way." On Monday, "we got a couple bounces early in the game. They hit the post, Boosh made a big save, and all of a sudden we build off that momentum."
To overcome a 3-0 series deficit, "you've got to have good people in the locker room, guys with determination and character," Laviolette said. "We seem to be pretty well-schooled in this environment. It seems like since Christmas we've been in survival mode. . . . It comes to a point where based on everything you've done, you've got to believe in the guys in the room and believe in yourself."
Just like those resilient Maple Leafs and Islanders of yesteryear.