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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    Boeser channels Bure, leads NHL rookie scoring

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    Brock Boeser has no intentions of letting Clayton Keller or Mathew Barzal walk away with the Calder Trophy.

    Boeser, 20, has been lights out over the past four games for the Vancouver Canucks, scoring six times during his current four-game goal-scoring streak (he also has points in five straight) as Keller’s stock has cooled.

    The Arizona Coyotes 19-year-old rookie has failed to score in each of his past eight games after a blistering start that saw him score 11 times in 16 contests.

    Keller’s slump has allowed Boeser to grab hold of the rookie scoring lead, which he did on Wednesday, scoring twice — the second time he’s done so in as many games — in a 5-2 rout of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    He’s now one point ahead of Keller and Barzal, the latter of which is heating up as well with points in his past four games.

    As you can see by the above video, Boeser’s release puts his name on a pedestal with few others in the NHL. The Athletic’s Justin Bourne wrote glowingly of Boeser’s shot ability on Wednesday.

    Don’t see the Alex Ovechkin or Patrik Laine in that shot? Here’s more proof:

    Boeser’s scoring prowess has him in the conversation with another talented Russian in Pavel Bure.

    Bure, who won the Calder Trophy in 1992, scored 34 times for the Canucks that season. Boeser is on pace to hit the 40-goal mark, which would smash that record.

    Boeser is the first rookie to score in four consecutive games this season. According to the NHL, only one rookie in Canucks franchise history has scored in more than four consecutive team games – Dennis Ververgaert had a six-game goal streak in 1973-74.

    Boeser is scoring on nearly 21 percent of his shots, and while TSN’s Scott Cullen points out that that number isn’t likely to hold, his 2.8 shots per game are still very much conducive to goal scoring.

    And winning. Boeser has three game-winning goals for the Canucks, who are 11-8-3 this season, two points out of first place in the Pacific Division in the Western Conference.


    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck


    Free falling: Flyers lose sixth straight as growing pains emerge

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    The Philadelphia Flyers feel they are right there, which is an interesting statement from a team that’s lost six straight and eight of their past 10.

    Ah, the lies we tell ourselves in times of trouble.

    The Flyers did fair better on Wednesday night in a 4-3 shootout loss against the New York Islanders, which prompted goaltender Brian Elliott to make the declaration that his team just needs to turn the corner.

    It’s tough to turn when you’re falling backwards, however.

    Indeed, finding positives when few appear to be in sight in a skid like the Flyers are in is a tough ask in the City of Brotherly Love. Flyers fans have had to come to terms with a few things this season.

    It must pain fans to see Brayden Schenn lighting the lamp over and over again in St. Louis. Schenn was traded to the Blues in the offseason. The return looked half decent for a team looking to rebuild with a youth movement.

    The Blues gave up two first-round picks for Schenn along with Jori Lehtera. And while it remains to be seen what the Flyers gain from the trade in future drafts, Lehtera has been an utter disappointment, one magnified many times more by Schenn’s incredible start.

    Lehtera was a healthy scratch for Wednesday’s game, the second time in his past four games he’s watched rather than played. He’s sitting on two assists this season in 14 games. Schenn, by comparison, 10 goals and 30 points, including 19 in his past eight games.

    It hasn’t been all Lehtera’s fault. Oh, no.

    The Flyers penalty kill has been atrocious. They rank 28th in the league at 75 percent and have allowed seven goals in their past 13 kills over the past three games.

    Andrew MacDonald can’t return soon enough, especially after one of their better penalty killers tried to behead a man last week.

    Scoring could be better as well.

    Claude Giroux has gone six games without a goal, this after scoring nine times in his first 16 games. Jordan Weal has just one goal in his past 18 games and was bumped to the fourth line on Wednesday. And ever since he 17 times in 64 games two years ago, Shayne Gostisbehere has only eight goals in his past 95 games and none in his past 13.

    Ivan Provorov has been a godsend for the Flyers on defence (and Travis Sanheim is starting to blossom), but Gostisbehere’s offensive prowess from the backend would be a welcomed addition again.

    But the real reason for the Flyers struggles this season might just be something they can’t control: youth.

    The Flyers iced 11 players under 25 years of age on Wednesday night. Their top defenseman, Provorov, is 20 years old. Their second line centre, Nolan Patrick, is 19.

    These are the growing pains of a team getting younger, and it could get worse yet before it gets better.


    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

    While Turris continues to roll, Duchene still stuck in first gear

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    Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side, sometimes it isn’t.

    The two focal points of the biggest trade this season so far in the National Hockey League find themselves on opposite sides of the old expression.

    On the ‘grass isn’t’ side, we find Matt Duchene, now an Ottawa Senators player after getting shipped to Canada’s capital from the Colorado Avalanche in a three-team deal (that also included the Nashville Predators, but more on that in a moment) earlier this month.

    Duchene, unhappy in the Colorado Rockies, has now gone six games without a point in his new threads.

    On the ‘greener side,’ we find Kyle Turris, now a member of the Nashville Predators, who was shipped out of Canada’s capital after contract negotiations between his former team, the Senators, “did not see the light at the end of the tunnel.” 

    Unlike Duchene, (his trade partner?) Turris has found new life in Music City. In six games, Turris has two goals and three assists and scored this five-hole goal on Wednesday to help the Predators get past the struggling Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in the shootout.

    Turris’ arrival on the Predators’ second line has been of great assistance to 21-year-old forward Kevin Fiala as well.

    Fiala has six points, including two multi-point outings, since Turris arrived on Nov. 5 and is well on his way to eclipsing his rookie season point total of 16 last year with two goals and 11 assists in 20 games this season.

    It was no secret the Senators wanted Duchene, badly, in the days leading up to the deal that finally got done. Turris and the Sens couldn’t reach an agreement on an extension and thus the 28-year-old became expendable. The results thus far, at least on the scoresheet, haven’t matched the steep price required to get Duchene.

    But it’s not all bad. Some consolation for Sens fans:

    And it’s not to say results won’t come.

    Duchene has 23 shots in those six games. There would be more concern if he wasn’t getting chances.

    An immediate winner in any high-profile swap is always hotly debated. Turris has had a strong start in Nashville, but he went to a team that is a few months removed from being in the Stanley Cup Finals and are looking like strong contenders once again.

    Duchene is a highly-skilled player who scored 30 goals two years ago. The chemistry with Bobby Ryan just hasn’t blossomed just yet. Give it time.

    The thing about trades is this: a clear-cut winner is often never determined a few weeks after the deal is made.

    Duchene summed it up rather succinctly on Tuesday in the Ottawa Sun:

    “I’ve said it many times, a season is full of peaks and valleys and 10 games from now, we could be having a totally different conversation.


    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

    Golden Knights can’t stop, won’t stop

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    There may not be a more intriguing story in the NHL this year than what is going on in Sin City.

    Defying all the odds, the Vegas Golden Knights — a team comprised of spare parts that general manager George McPhee picked out of a discard bin this past summer — sit on top of the Pacific Division at Thanksgiving after a 4-2 win against the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday.

    The league-wide off day due to the holiday should give you enough time to come to the realization that yes, indeed, your eyes are not deceiving you.

    Instead, the NHL has a brand new team that continues to re-write hockey history.

    The Golden Knights matched an NHL record for most wins by a team through the first 20 games of its inaugural season on Wednesday, moving to 13-6-1 on the year.

    They became the first expansion team to start a season 3-0-0 and first to win their first six of seven back in October. On Nov. 4, they tied a league record for shortest number of games played to achieve nine wins an inaugural season and continue to do things no other expansion team has done.

    How a team full of players not good enough to be protected prior to the expansion draft is doing so well is anyone’s guess.

    Chip on their collective shoulders? Perhaps. A little Las Vegas magic? Quite possible.

    What is certain is that the Golden Knights have little trouble scoring. And scoring helps with winning.

    James Neal, a former 40-goal man, leads the way with 11 goals. Only Filip Forsberg on the Nashville Predators, Neal’s former team, has as many. William Karlsson is second with 10. No one on his former team, the Columbus Blue Jackets, has reached double digits yet.

    David Perron, Reilly Smith, Jonathan Marchessault and Erik Haula aren’t far behind with six goals apiece, and Vegas is eighth in expected goals for percentage.

    The math adds up to show the Golden Knights tied for fourth in goals for with 72. They’re also in the top third when it comes to least goals against, a remarkable feat given that they’ve had to dig deep — really deep — into their stable of goaltenders thanks to injury.

    Furthermore, If the playoffs were determined by possession metrics and began tomorrow, the Golden Knights would be one of the 16 headed to the promised land.

    Maybe Vegas just likes to win. And really, what do they have to lose?


    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck