Tag: Sabres-Flyers

Brian Boucher

Flyers reflect on decision to go with Brian Boucher in net


To the surprise of just about no one, the Philadelphia Flyers will start Brian Boucher for Game 7 against the Buffalo Sabres. It’s probably not much of a surprise that Sergei Bobrovsky will be his backup after Michael Leighton’s disastrous first period performance in Game 6, either.

Of the three goalies the Flyers have already gone through in just six games, Boucher has all three of Philly’s wins. He’s 3-1 so far with an impressive 93.5 save percentage and 2.12 GAA while Leighton and Bobrovsky are 0-1 each with some unsightly individual numbers.

As easy as it is to be positive about his recent results, Boucher’s a journeyman backup who hasn’t played a Game 7 in many years. The most recent team to start three different goalies in a single series was the 2004 Vancouver Canucks, according to Elias Sports Bureau. That team ended up losing that first round series against Miikka Kiprusoff and the Calgary Flames after going through a rotation of Dan Cloutier, Alex Auld and Johan Hedberg.

All of those negatives aside, the Flyers said they feel comfortable playing in front of Boucher.

“Every time (Boucher) has come in, he’s brought a sense of calmness that, as a team, we need and he’s been able to give to us,” forward Kris Versteeg said. “He’s earned this start and obviously it’s been a long time since he’s started a Game 7 (May 26, 2000; 2-1 loss to New Jersey) but it doesn’t matter to us. We’re worried about going out there as a team.”


“It doesn’t matter who’s in net,” Claude Giroux said. “We have confidence in any goalie that is giving us a chance to win. (In Game 6) we saw that Boucher came in pretty strong and made some key saves to keep us in the game.”

For his part, Boucher thinks he’s been strong except for the Flyers’ biggest nemesis so far in this series: a horrible stretch in the first period (Game 5 in Boucher’s case).

“Personally, I feel like I have had a solid series aside from three minutes (of Game 5), so I feel good about my game,” he said. “I give a lot of credit to my teammates. They have battled really hard in front of me and they really have given me a chance to get back in there with the way they played down 3-1 (in Game 6). A lot of credit goes to them.”

A Game 7 contest is an inherently nerve-wracking event. The Flyers need to be as confident as possible with their man in net, so Boucher provides that safety blanket. Ultimately, all that really matters is how Boucher and the team plays tonight, though.

Flyers are familiar with adversity, winning in Game 7; History isn’t on Sabres’ side

Tyler Ennis, Claude Giroux
1 Comment

One could probably argue that almost every playoff game can reveal something about a given team, but nothing really etches a team’s story in stone quite like a Game 7. Players grow up dreaming of scoring goals that decide these types of moments, although some probably dread the theater of such a contest.

If you used history as your only guide, then you’d probably wager pretty heavily on the Philadelphia Flyers over the Buffalo Sabres. Not only is their current group familiar with fighting through adversity, there’s also their superior all-time record in Game 7 contests.

Flyers all-time record in Game 7 contests: 8-6, including a win against the Boston Bruins in 2010.

Sabres all-time record in Game 7 contests: 1-5, with their only win coming against the Ottawa Senators in 1997.

CSN Philly’s Tim Panaccio sheds more light on the disparity in these mutual do-or-die games.

Among the Sabres in the lineup that will face the Flyers Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center, only seven have Game 7 experience from a previous NHL playoff series – Ryan Miller, Paul Gaustad, Mike Grier, Rob Neidermayer, Jordan Leopold, Steve Montador and Derek Roy, who will make his series debut after missing four months with a left quad tear.

Virtually the entire Flyers roster — minus Kris Versteeg and Andrej Meszaros — has been through this before, many of them, as recent as last spring’s Boston series as Flyers.

“It’s a great experience to go out there and know all is on the line and you are playing with the guys in the room and for each other,” Roy said. “And it’s going to be a moment that will last forever. We should cherish it.”

History favors the Flyers. Lifetime, the Sabres have never won a Game 7 on the road (0-4).

Buffalo’s most recent Game 7 involved a loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference finals.

Now, this is not to say that the Sabres roster is devoid of big-game players. Their star goalie Ryan Miller shined brightly in the concentrated spotlight of the 2010 Olympics. He’s also been steady to brilliant in elimination games, although that Game 6 defeat moves his record in games in which one or both teams can advance to 7-6.

The Sabres also can point to the fact they have taken two of three of the games in Philadelphia so far, showing that they have their own kind of resiliency. This is a young team, with many players (including skyscraper defenseman Tyler Myers) who haven’t been in this spot before. That means that history probably doesn’t mean a whole lot to them.

There’s one other reason for the Sabres to be inspired: their top center Derek Roy will make his comeback for Game 7. Who knows how much of a difference he can make, but the team could be that much more dangerous with that point per game producer back in the lineup.

It all shapes up for an awfully interesting game. Can the Flyers overcome their goalie questions (more on that in a future post)? Can the Sabres overcome their franchise history of letdowns in Game 7? This series has been as close as you can ask for, but at the end of this game, only one team will have another game to look forward to.

Video: Keith Jones and Jeremy Roenick preview tonight’s Game 7 matches

Craig Rivet, Daniel Carcillo

If you want to follow the most intense and gripping sporting events on TV tonight, then you might as well keep your clicker fixed on Versus. With all due respect to the NBA, Tuesday’s slate of Game 7’s features the final round of a manic Buffalo Sabres-Philadelphia Flyers series (7 p.m. ET) followed by the story-filled final game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks (10 p.m. ET).

In other words, Versus will feature about six hours(-plus?) of the highest pressure hockey you can find in the first round. (Naturally, the telecasts will also keep you abreast regarding the slightly lower profile Game 6 match between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.)

We will have our own rundown of tonight’s three games later on, but if you want an idea of what to expect in those two Game 7’s, then Versus has you covered. Check out takes from Keith Jones and Jeremy Roenick in the video below.

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Examining Ryan Miller’s track record in playoff elimination games

Buffalo Sabres v Philadelphia Flyers - Game Five

For many casual American sports fans, Ryan Miller became a borderline household name when he nearly carried the U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Even though he “settled” for a better-than-expected silver medal, Miller captivated budding hockey fans and went on to have a great NHL season in 2010-11, earning his first career Vezina Trophy in the process.

So there’s no doubt that Miller is considered elite on just about every level, but he still can add to his legacy by putting together another deep playoff run. Last season’s first round loss to the Boston Bruins was a bit of a disappointment, so I figured it might be interesting to take a glance at how the 30-year-old player has done in playoff elimination games.

(Keep in mind that there might be an empty-net goal here or there, but for the most part, final scores are fairly indicative of his/the team’s performances.)

2005-06 run: Fourth-seed Buffalo Sabres

First round: Miller allows one goal against the fifth seeded Philadelphia Flyers, giving Buffalo a 4-2 series win. (1-0)

Second round: Miller helps Buffalo take a 3-0 series lead over the first seed Ottawa Senators. After a 2-1 loss, Miller helps the Sabres win the series with a 3-2 overtime win. (2-1)

Third round: The Sabres ended up losing to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes (second seed) in a great seven-game series. Buffalo won Game 6 but fell to the Canes in Game 7. (3-2)*

Miller finishes the 05-06 playoff run with a 3-2 record in elimination games.

2006-07 run: First-seed Sabres

First round: Miller only needs one game to close out the eighth-seeded Islanders as Buffalo wins Game 5 4-3. (4-2)

Second round: Once again, Miller and the Sabres close out their opponent in the first opportunity, thanks to a 5-4 win against the sixth-seed Rangers in Game 6. (5-2)

Third round: The fourth-seeded Senators ripped through the East that year, beating Buffalo in five tidy games. They knocked Miller and the Sabres out in their second chance thanks to a 3-2 OT win. (6-3)

Miller finishes 06-07 run with a nice 6-3 record in elimination games.

The Sabres didn’t make the playoffs in the 07-08 or 08-09 seasons.

2009-10 run: Third-seed Sabres

First round: Down 3-1, the Sabres managed to fight off elimination once. The Bruins knocked them off 4-3 in Game 6, though. (7-4)

So, overall, Miller in 7-4 in elimination games.*

Update: That 7-4 record comes with little-to-no low moments. Even in games the Sabres lost, Miller never allowed more than four goals. No doubt about it, he’s a trustworthy goalkeeper in big games.

He frequently puts together great performances and hasn’t had a profoundly awful one (at least on paper?). The takeaway from that is pretty simple: the Flyers need to outplay the Sabres because Miller is unlikely to make it easy for them with a bunch of soft goals.

Now, that doesn’t mean that the next two games are guaranteed to follow that trend. As we’ve seen with these sometimes bizarre playoffs, a lot of strange things can happen.

That being said, don’t blame Buffalo if they feel very comfortable in an area of serious uncertainty for their first round opponents. Chances are, if someone lets the Sabres down, it probably won’t be their franchise goalie.

* – Thanks to commenter Chris Ostrander for clarification about a couple late series results for the Sabres.

Video: Flyers need to step up without Pronger, Carter against Sabres in Game 6

Sergei Bobrovsky, Andrej Meszaros, Andrej Sekera

Most hockey fans (especially hardcore ones) knew that the Buffalo Sabres-Philadelphia Flyers series had the potential to be highly competitive. Yes, on paper, it’s a second vs. seventh seed matchup, but the Sabres have an all-world goalie and are just one season removed from winning the Northeast Division. In other words, these are two evenly matched teams.

That’s especially true considering the fact that Chris Pronger won’t play a game in this series and Jeff Carter won’t be back, either.

The Flyers have a few excuses to lean on, but the bottom line is that you never know how many chances you’ll have to make a legitimate run at the Stanley Cup. This is one of those opportunities, considering their still-deep well of talent and second spot in the conference.

Liam McHugh, Pierre McGuire, and Mike Milbury discuss tomorrow’s Game 6 match (at 3:00 p.m. ET on NBC, by the way) in the video below, touching on subjects that include the Flyers’ much criticized goaltending.

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