By Jon Smith:
The most common theme throughout the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs series between the Flyers and Sabres was that a goalie would start, play poorly, and be replaced. That theme repeated itself again Game 7, only this time is was Sabres superstar goalie, American hero, and all around super human being Ryan Miller who was replaced after allowing 4 goals to a Flyers offense that started dominating on the first shift and didn’t let up.
Flyers goalie Brian Boucher, the self-appointed Curly of the Flyers “Three Stooges” of goalies, played a solid game and was brilliant during a 2nd period scramble in which he stopped multiple close range shots. Boucher was finally beaten by Tyler Myers at the 6:33 mark in the 3rd period after the Flyers had rolled to a 4 goal lead. Boucher stopped 26 of 28 shots thrown his way and played the way Flyers fans had been begging one of the three goalies to play, solid. With the Flyers having three lines that can score, and a good to great defensive core, the goalie only needs to stop the shots he’s supposed to, and that’s what Boucher did in Game 7. While Boucher did his job, so did the Flyers defense in front of him, blocking 28 shots.
The biggest goal for the Flyers in the game was the first one they scored. After coming out in the first period and putting 15 shots on Miller while dominating the period in every aspect except on the scoreboard, Braydon Coburn put the 16th shot of the period past Miller with only 18 seconds to go. That goal was huge for for a few reasons. First, it gave the Flyers payoff for their dominating play in the first period, giving them the confidence that going into intermission with a lead allows. Second, it showed in early in the game that Ryan Miller wasn’t going to be unbeatable like he was in game 1 and game 4.
The Flyers came out in the 2nd period with the momentum of having the lead and didn’t look back. The once dormant power play showed signs of getting hot with two goals in the 2nd period, going 2/4 in the game. The Flyers went into the 2nd intermission with a three goal lead and the crowd serenading Miller every chance they got. Ville Leino blasted a slapshot past Miller to start the third period and Lindy Ruff finally decided to get his struggling keeper. Dan Carcillo answered Buffalo’s last gasp attempt at a comeback by putting a rebound past new goalie Jhonas Enroth making the score 5-1. Brad Boyes scored the Sabres last goal of the season, but it was a case of too little too late for Buffalo. The raucous Wells Fargo crowd roared their approval of Boucher and the Flyers as the clock ticked down to zero.
Popular opinion for the series MVP would probably be Danny Briere who led the team with 6 goals, or James van Riemsdyk who netted 4 goals, 4 assists, led the team in shots and chances, and played a dominating style of forward. My pick for MVP though would be Claude Giroux. Giroux led the team in points (9), ice time among forwards (21:43/game), and won 55% of his faceoffs including a team leading 61 even strength faceoffs won and 17 power play faceoffs won. Giroux may have only had one goal, but when he wasn’t distributing one of his 8 assists, he was playing playing a physical game on the forecheck causing multiple Buffalo turnovers.
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