Rounding up the reaction to Flyers historic win

Flyers8.jpgAfter the Philadelphia Flyers came back from being down 0-3 in the
series against the Bruins to win, becoming just the third team in NHL
history to do so, many were split on exactly what happened in this
series.

Did the Bruins collapse? Was this a choke of monumental
proportions, possibly one of the worst choke jobs in the history of
sports? After all, not only have just three prior teams allowed a
comeback from 0-3 down in the series, but the Bruins choked away a 3-0
lead in the deciding Game 7.

Or was this more about the resiliency
of the Flyers? This was yet another example of just how much the Flyers
have overcome in this series and this season overall.

Here’s a
snippet of reactions and from the Bruins side, they clearly feel as if
they let something get away. This is a game that the Bruins will have a
very, very tough time living down and it’s likely this team and these
players never will. As for the Flyers….well, it’s pure elation.

Bruins
Blog:

While the Bruins players own a place in history that none of them
want — the stench of this one will be attached to them if and until
they accomplish greater things — it’s unfair to call the collapse an
outright choke or to make Savard, who came back from a Grade 2
concussion and scored the winning goal in Game 1, a Buckneresque
scapegoat.

Few expected the Bruins to get out of the first round against star
goalie Ryan Miller and third-seeded Buffalo, and the seventh-seeded
Flyers were regarded as an even matchup before Krejci’s injury. The loss
was crushing and perhaps even inexcusable, but given the infirmary’s
worth of injuries they endured late in the season, the Bruins deserve at
least some kudos for being here in the first place.

Broad
Street Hockey:

But these Flyers wouldn’t settle for just one epic comeback from 3-0
down.  No, once the Flyers evened the series at 3-3 each, they saw it
fit to dig themselves another 3-0 deficit in a hurry, as Milan Lucic scored twice through Michael Leighton‘s five-hole as the Bruins
raced out to a 3-0 lead in the game’s first fifteen minutes.

It looked bad.  Real bad.  But these Flyers don’t much worry about
3-0 deficits, and they probably never will again.

More after the jump:

Dan
Shaughnessy:

Are you kidding me? Watching the
Bruins blow a series on a too-many-men penalty is like watching the 2010
Red Sox lose a one-game playoff on a homer hit by a
guy named Bucky.

Until last
night, too many men on the ice in Montreal in 1979 (a Boston team
famously coached by Don “Grapes” Cherry) was arguably the worst moment
in Bruins history.

Puck
Daddy:

Boston now has to live with this Flyers comeback forever. The outcome
of the series will forever be a stain on what was turning into a
memorable run by the Bruins. From the contributions of veterans Mark
Recchi(notes) and Miroslav Satan(notes), to the stellar goaltending of
Tuukka Rask(notes) who saved the season in relief of 2009 Vezina
Trophy winner Tim Thomas(notes), to the triumphant return of Marc
Savard(notes) in Game 1 of the series. There will be no getting over
this loss.

Phil
Sheridan:

Impossible wasn’t tough enough for them. The Flyers
had to stack a
three-goal deficit on top of the three-games-to-none mountain they’d
already climbed, just to see if they could overcome that, too.

Stunningly, they did just that. The Flyers finished the Ultimate
Comeback in this playoff series with a spectacular comeback in a
hypertensive Game 7 Friday night.

Barstool Sports:

In most instances when somebody says that an event was the best or
worst of all time at anything they are exaggerating. But not this
time. That was the biggest choke/collapse in the history of life. I
mean blowing a 3 games to none lead is one thing. But to blow a 3-0
lead in Game 7 at home on top of that? That makes it bar none the
worst collapse in the history of sports and civilization.

Stanley Cup of Chowder:

– Really? A too many men on the ice penalty? Of all penalties that
could be called a Bruins playoff game was decided by a too many me on
the ice call? Where have I heard this story before? Just a brutal way to
lose a game and a series. Now when Bruins fans talk about “The Too
Many Men on Ice Game”, we will have to ask ” which one?”

Shawn
Thornton:

“I know everyone wrote us off after that last Pittsburgh game [on
March 18, a 3-0 loss in which the team was criticized for sluggish play
and for not further standing up to Matt Cooke, who had previously
given Savard a concussion on a questionable hit] and I know everyone
did a great job of coming together and jelling and turning the season
around,” Thornton said.

Marc
Savard:

“I was coming back,” Savard
acknowledged. “I’d seen that no one jumped, so I stayed on. I’m not sure
what happened after that. I went back and got the puck. And then . . . I
don’t know.”

Milan Lucic:

“We came out strong early, but [in the third period], we sat back and
played not to win,” said the Bruins’ Milan Lucic, who scored twice.
“We came out playing so well, and you’ve got to stick with that
philosophy that got you that lead. We didn’t do that.”

Tuukka
Rask:

“It always changes during the game when the other teams scores and
they get the momentum. It’s going back and forth. I’m not criticizing
our effort or anything. I thought we battled hard. You got to deserve
those bounces and today they deserved it.”

Patrice
Bergeron:

“[Jeff] Carter wasn’t playing and [Simon] Gagne missed a couple of
games, so they had their injuries too and we can’t blame it all on that.
We’ve never put the blame on injuries all year and we’ve always kind
of battled through it, and I don’t think that should be any excuse
right now.”

Michael
Leighton:

“After the time-out,” Leighton said, “he said to me, ‘Leights, settle
down. Shut the door. We’re going to score some goals.’ “

Simon
Gagne:

“Lavy called a time-out and said, ‘Let’s just focus on one goal at a
time,’ ” Gagne said. ” ‘Let’s try to get one goal in the first and then
try to tie the game. Then they might start to get nervous.’ “

“I was so happy at the end,” Gagne said. “We just put everything on
the line. There is no better feeling.”

Mike
Richards:

“I saw it right away,” Flyer captain Mike Richards said. “I saw one
guy
go to the bench and two guys jump on. Maybe a little bit too excited. It
was a big time. Our power play picked a good time to click.”

Peter
Laviolette:

“There’s the right people in that locker room to win a game like
today,” Laviolette said. “And there’s the right people in that locker
room to come back from 3-0 and win a game today.

“I’m really
proud,” he said, then pausing. “I’m really proud of the way we played.
I’m proud of the way they represented the organization and the way they
represented themselves.”

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    Tortorella admits Jackets ‘laid an egg’ in Game 4

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    Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella clearly wasn’t happy about the way his team played in Game 4 of their first-round series against the Washington Capitals. He was pretty clear about it after his team’s 4-1 loss.

    His post-game press conference shouldn’t be described as “vintage Torts,” it was more like “Torts classic”.

    After a few minutes of answering questions, Tortorella got fed up with the line of questioning.

    “We weren’t good,” Tortorella said after the game. “We weren’t good! There’s no sense in asking me things about the game. I’m telling you, we laid an egg. So I’m not going to break it down for you. We sucked! We sucked! So let’s move by it and see if we play better on Saturday afternoon.”

    The next reporter tried to ask a follow-up question and was given the same treatment.

    “We laid an egg. That’s all I have to say guys, I’m sorry. I’m not going to break it down for you. Nothing went well for us. We have to figure it out and we will.”

    Torts walked off after the next question.

    After winning the first two games of the series on the road, the Blue Jackets managed to drop both contests at home. This best-of-seven series is tied up at two, with Game 5 coming up in Washington on Saturday afternoon.

    They’ve got to be better than they were in Game 4. The stats don’t lie:

    Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

    PHT Morning Skate: How Marchand became a pest; What are Rangers looking for in new coach?

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    Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

    Sean Couturier, who missed Game 4 against Pittsburgh, could return to the lineup in Game 5. The Flyers could certainly use a boost, especially because elimination is staring them right in the face. (NHL.com)

    • Madison Square Garden executive chairman James Dolan admitted that the next coach of the New York Rangers will have to understand how to develop young players. (New York Post)

    • All the success the Golden Knights have had in their inaugural season makes absolutely no sense, according to Vice’s Dave Lozo. They’ve used a bunch of cast-offs and they’ve been successful doing so. (Vice)

    • Ever wonder how Brad Marchand became a pest? Well, he outlines it for you in this story he wrote for The Players’ Tribune.

    • The Hart Trophy doesn’t always go to the player with the best offensive numbers. (Greatest Hockey Legends)

    • The Carolina Hurricanes have hired Paul Krepelka to be their Vice President of Hockey Operations. He has NHL experience as a player, attorney, agent and manager. (NHL.com/Hurricanes)

    • The Athletic’s Katie Strang wrote an emotional piece about former NHLer David Gove story. Gove was the victim of sexual abuse, and it affected him until the day he died. (The Athletic)

    • NHL official Shandor Alphonso didn’t dream of being an official,  but he’s now working in the NHL. Sportsnet wrote an interesting story about how he went from a financial advisor to being an official in the best league in the world. (Sportsnet)

    • Devin is an eight-year-old Predators fan that has battled cancer during his young life. Not only have the Preds made an impact on him, but it’s pretty clear that he’s had an impact on some of the players on the roster. (Tennessean)

    • After another miserable season in Buffalo, owner Terry Pegula wrote a letter to season ticket holders telling them that the team won’t be raising prices. (Buffalo News)

    • Even though he was fired by the Calgary Flames, Glen Gulutzan believes the team’s future is bright. (Calgary Herald)

    • The Art Dorrington foundation, which is named after the first black player to sign an NHL contract, is struggling with funding right now. Atlantic City mayor Frank Gilliam is holding back the $25,000 that was supposed to be given to the foundation. (AC Primetime)

    Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

    The Buzzer: Ovechkin is clutch

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    Two games on Thursday

    Bruins 3, Maple Leafs 1 (Bruins lead series 3-1)

    The Boston Bruins continue to show that they can survive – if not thrive – with key players out of the lineup. They don’t get much more “key” than Patrice Bergeron, who was unable to suit up for Game 4. Even so, Tuukka Rask made some crucial saves and the Bruins connected on two 2-on-1 rushes to snag a 3-1 series lead. The Maple Leafs must grapple with a lot of uncomfortable questions as they see their season slip to the brink of elimination.

    Capitals 4, Blue Jackets 1 (Series tied 2-2)

    This game was all about patterns continuing, or breaking.

    Continuing: The road team winning. The away team has won all four contests during this series, so this one returns to Washington with the two teams now tied up 2-2. It’s also another instance of Alex Ovechkin being sneaky-clutch, although many people will disagree because of team results. Washington’s starting to pull away in terms of puck possession during the series, and that continued on Thursday, too.

    Breaking: For the first time in the series, the game ended in regulation. It wasn’t all that close, either, as the Caps won 4-1 and were safe even considering one empty-netter.

    [NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

    Three Stars

    1. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins – There will be talk of Bergeron, Auston Matthews not being able to score, Mike Babcock’s decisions, and other factors from Game 4. Rask helped to push those discussions to the forefront – rather than talk about which team has the edge if they ended up tied – as he was sharp on Thursday. Rask stopped 31 out of 32 shots, factoring heavily in Boston building a 3-1 series lead against Toronto.

    2. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals – After scoring two goals in Game 1, Kuznetsov had been held silent by the Bruins in Games 2 and 3. The Russian center made up for lost time in Game 4, scoring an empty-netter and two assists in that 4-1 win. Both of his assists were primary helpers, while he checked many other boxes by winning more than half of his draws (10 of 18), generating a +3 rating, and firing four shots on goal.

    3. Alex Ovechkin, Capitals – Ovechkin fired a shot on Sergei Bobrovsky, which created a rebound opportunity for T.J. Oshie during a Washington power play, a goal that ended up being the game-winner. Ovechkin also scored from the right face-off circle for an important insurance goal. Ovechkin fired five SOG and was a +1 in Game 4.

    Factoids

    There’s plenty of focus on Bergeron being out and Marchand scoring/agitating, but don’t forget about David Pastrnak‘s brilliance.

    Again, Alex Ovechkin is more clutch than people realize. By scoring the 49th playoff goal of his career, Ovechkin tied Henri Richard for 60th in NHL history. You may remember Henri as a) Maurice Richard’s brother and b) the guy who won the Stanley Cup 11 times.

    Friday’s games

    Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins, 7 p.m. ET, NBCSN
    Minnesota Wild at Winnipeg Jets, 7:30 p.m. ET, USA Network
    Colorado Avalanche at Nashville Predators, 9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

    Capitals tie series with Blue Jackets

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    In Game 4, the Washington Capitals showed their heart by not working overtime.

    The Capitals dropped both of their home games to start their first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets, opening the floodgates for people to dust off their favorite, cruel jokes about this team. They’ll return home with those one-liners drying up, though.

    After falling behind 2-0 in the series, the Capitals flipped the script to tie it up 2-2 after beating the Blue Jackets both times in Columbus. The symmetry wasn’t complete, however; while Washington continued the series trend of overtime nail-biters by winning beyond regulation in Game 3, they made no mistake about winning Game 4 by a score of 4-1.

    [NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

    This wasn’t a case where the Bruins got the bounces and the finishes to win. The Capitals have shown signs of dominance even in defeats during this series, but they really smothered the Blue Jackets in Game 4.

    The Capitals generated a 33-24 shots on goal edge, won about two-thirds of the faceoffs, and generally carried the play by every metric.

    Tom Wilson making it 1-0 was valuable, and jokes about blown 2-0 leads aside, T.J. Oshie‘s eventual game-winner was important during the second period. Alex Ovechkin‘s goal from his opposite office widened the gap too much for an overmatched Blue Jackets team, even with Boone Jenner scoring and giving Columbus a brief boost.

    With a goal and an assist in Game 4, this is yet another reminder that Ovechkin is a playoff performer, even if his team isn’t always there with him. After Washington went down 2-0 against Columbus, Ovechkin said “it’s going to be fun when we bounce back and tie the series,” and that’s exactly the situation Washington is in after … whatever the opposite of “holding serve” is.

    Of course, people will quickly forget this triumph-within-the-series if the Capitals ultimately bow out of the first round, anyway.

    The Caps must feel really good about their collective play as they aim to become the first team to win at home in this series in Game 5. Their power play has been productive, playing tight defense, getting scoring from Ovechkin/others, and Braden Holtby looks poised in regaining his usual spot in net. It’s the sort of stretch that changes the Capitals’ narrative from “here we go again” to “could this be the year we finally make a run?”

    With this series now essentially becoming a best two-out-of-three clash, the disposition could easily go from sunny back to gloomy, but give this beleaguered group credit for keeping cool heads and making this anyone’s game once again.

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.