This series just came to life.
Unfortunately for the Sabres, the Flyers powerplay also came to life last night, in a 5-4 victory over Buffalo. Actually, “came to life” might be a bit gracious. The Flyers were only able to score once on the poweplay, while the Sabres racked up a ridiculous 13 penalties – including 6 infractions in the 1st and 2nd periods each, and one stretch through the 1st and into the 2nd that provided 7 penalties to the Sabres and only 1 to the Flyers.
Just how important is the power play to the Flyers, anyhow?
Pretty darn important, statistically speaking. In their playoff preview, “The Hockey News” pointed out that the Flyers did not register a power play goal in 22 in their first 27 losses, despite averaging 3.4 powerplays in those 22 games. Simply put: the Sabres cannot afford to take a stream of penalties like they did last night – even an Achilles’ Heel like Philly’s will eventually be able to kick you in the butt if you give it enough flailing swings.
Meanwhile, Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Chris Pronger is a no-go for Game Three. An explanation:
“Before Saturday’s wildly entertaining playoff game at the Wells Fargo Center, a source close to the situation said it was ’50/50′ that Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger would play Monday.
But after the Flyers eked out a 5-4 win over Buffalo and evened the series at one game apiece, he changed his tune.
‘He’s probably out Monday,’ he said.
The implication: If it was a ‘must’ win Monday in Buffalo, there was a much better chance the Flyers would have rolled the dice with Pronger, who has been sidelined for more than a month because of hand surgery.
Now they head to Buffalo needing to win just one of two games to regain the home-ice advantage.”
The debate over starting Bobrovsky or Boucher in net has now officially begun. Again, from the Inquirer:
“For those in “Bob’s” corner: Boucher seems better suited in a relief role than Bobrovsky because of his experience. In addition, Bobrovsky has been more effective on the road than Boucher.
For those in Boosh’s corner: Boucher has been the steadier goalie this season, and his experience gives the team a calming effect.
After the game, coach Peter Laviolette went out of his way to point out that Bobrovsky has bounced back after a rough outing.
Was he hinting that ‘Bob’ would get the call Monday, or was it a smokescreen?
If it was my choice, I would go with Boucher. Right now, the team clearly looks more confident with him behind them, and that should be the determining factor.”
Bring on the Swing Game. Game Three’s reward is always a huge draw of momentum for the victor – it’s one of the most critical matches of a seven game contest. In this case, with the series tied at 1, Game Three will give one of these teams the lead. Whoever takes that lead will be just 2 games away from closing out the series, while the other will be looking at taking 3 games out of the next 4. Yep, it’s a biggie.
For the sake of comparison, a team 2 games up can claim a 3-0 series advantage in game 3. A team down 2 games can change the complexion of the series entirely by turning it into a 2-1 affair.
Fans that are heading down to the HSBC should drink up their honey tea and rest their voices until puck drop.
Make it loud, folks.