Flu bug bites again; Weak third period allows Bruins to coast to 3-1 win

The Flyers were missing Mike Richards, Scottie Upshall, and Braydon Coburn to the flu Wednesday night and the rest of the team couldn't overcome the loss as they fell to the Bruins 3-1 at home.

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photo by Jim McIssac via d.yimg.com

[AP Recap] - [NHL.com Game Summary] - [NHL.com Highlights]

BSH's Take: The Flyers could certainly use the flu as an excuse tonight. They were missing their captain and one of their best defensemen, not to mention a ton of the guys on the ice are feeling the effects of the illness as well.

But unfortunately for the Flyers, the best team in the NHL was in the house last night, and they're not going to be sympathetic. It's the NHL, and whether you're sick or not, you should play a full, complete 60 minutes of hockey.

In the first two periods, the Flyers showed they could hang with the Bruins. They showed that they had what it took to beat them. They owned the first period, controlling play for most of the first twenty minutes. Tim Thomas had to make a few excellent saves to keep it a scoreless game. In the second period, Boston scored a flukey goal, but Philadelphia responded immediately, with Claude Giroux pressing in the next shift, and then minutes later, Joffrey Lupul connecting with Scott Hartnell to tie the game.

So there are no excuses for why the wheels completely fell off in the third period -- flu or not. You could say the Bruins got the lucky bounces or that the Flyers were just having bad luck. No. Good teams get the lucky bounces by creating the chances that create those bounces. The Flyers offense was invisible in the third period and the defense was porous.

Boston worked harder in the third period and they won the game because of it.

One interesting note: Boston only recieved two penalties in the game and both were for goalie interference. Perhaps part of their game plan was to get body pressure on Biron?

Questions With Answers: For those that are new to my recap style, this is a feature I've been using for a few months. I got the idea from SBN's Minnesota Wild blog Hockey Wilderness. I asked five questions before the game, and here I will answer those questions based on what happened during the game.

  1. How do the Flyers stack up against the best team in the East? I thought the Flyers actually looked good against the Bruins. As I mentioned, they proved in the first two periods that they can keep up with Boston and that they can even beat them. But a full 60 minute effort is imperative against a team that good. They play a defensive system and when you give them a lead, it's tough to get it back. If the Flyers want to have a chance on Saturday afternoon, they cannot allow the Bruins to get ahead and they need a complete effort.
  2. Does the offense rebound from a dreadful showing against St. Louis? Again, it was kind of a tale of two games tonight. The first/second period Flyers got pucks on Thomas and really challenged him. I wouldn't say they completely rebounded from the St. Louis game, but they certainly took a step in the right direction.
  3. It's Patrice Bergeron's first game against the Flyers since the hit by Randy Jones last season and it'll clearly be in all the Bruins' minds. Any retaliation? Not surprisingly, nothing happened. The situation is done and over with, thank God.
  4. Can the Flyers, for the love of God, stay out of the damn penalty box? The penalties were severly cut down tonight -- only five for the Flyers -- although it's kind of pathetic we're saying five penalties is a good thing. It was the timing of the penalties that hurt the Flyers more than anything tonight though. Claude Giroux took an undisciplined charging penalty basically a shift after the Bruins made it 3-1, and that took two minutes off of the Flyers potential comeback time. Overall, a slight improvement, but it still has to get better.

A playoff picture update after last night is after the jump...

Playoff Picture
standings updated as of Wednesday night's finals

East_2

There were two other games Wednesday night that affected the Flyers and the Eastern Conference playoff outlook.

(10) Pittsburgh 4, (12) Tampa Bay 3 OT -- We thought the Penguins were dead. Then Evgeni Malkin happened. Down 3-0 at the start of the third to the Lightning, the Penguins stormed back to beat Tampa in overtime 4-3. Malkin scored two, including the game winner. A loss would've been devastating to Pittsburgh, not only because it would've come against the lowly Lightning, but because they would've been three points out of the playoff race with eighth-place Florida holding three games in hand. Instead, they still sit in tenth but are just one point behind the Panthers.

(7) Buffalo 5, (11) Toronto 0 -- Buffalo keeps gaining on the Flyers. They rolled over the Leafs, who might've thought they had a chance there for a minute being just nine points off the pace. Thomas Vanek had a natural hat trick which pulled him even with Jeff Carter with 32 goals. The Sabres sit two points behind the Flyers now, but we do have two games in hand.

One final note, a special thanks to Shagg, doubleh, SCoC, and Moonage Daydream for contributing to the first game thread in Broad Street Hockey history. 100 comments not bad for the first time, eh?

Philadelphia is off until Saturday night when they travel up to Boston to face against these same Bruins. 1 PM puck drop. Be here. Go Flyers.

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