NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 22: Ian Laperriere #14 of the Philadelphia Flyers reacts after being injured in the second period by Colin White #5 of the New Jersey Devils in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Prudential Center at on April 22, 2010 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Brian Boucher isn't a world-class goaltender. He's not better than Martin Brodeur by any stretch of the imagination, either. So how was it that the goalie affectionately known as Boooooosh effectively outclassed one of the best to ever play the position over the course of this five-game series?
Look at the guys in front of him.
Yes, it's true that Boucher had a very strong series in his own right. He compiled first round stats that put him second in the league during the quarterfinals among goalies in GAA and save percentage. You don't do that without playing well.
But Boucher is who he is. He's not a Hall of Famer, even though he showed the ability to out-duel one. Because of this fact of life, he needed plenty of help to win his first playoff series in 10 years, and that help can be summarized with one simple chart.
85 blocked shots in five games. Eighty-five. The data came from ESPN's GameCast, and I combined the blocks from all of the games and placed them on the chart above. Right there are 85 reasons why the Flyers beat the Devils in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
It's called desperation. It's called putting absolutely everything on the line, and the Flyers did that time and time again versus the Devils. Ask Braydon Coburn, who threw his body in front of a shot with 10 seconds left and a 3-0 lead in Game 5. Ask Ian Laperriere's face.
In their own end, the Flyers put a wall around Brian Boucher all series long. They kept the Devils attack to the perimeter, not allowing many quality shots to get through on the goalie. As a result, he was able to stop the shots that did hit him with ease.
Goaltender stats are more than just numbers for goaltenders. Look across the ice, for example. Brodeur had terrible support from his defense, and as a result, he looked mediocre. His atrocious numbers -- a 3.01 goals against averageand a .881 save percentage, for example -- are more of an indictment of the support he received than anything else.
Boucher is able to make the saves necessary to win a hockey game, and he can even make the occasional great save. It's the formula that the Flyers entered the season with. Get good-enough goaltending, solid, consistent defense and timely scoring. This is the formula for winning in the postseason as well, and if the Flyers continue to play with the necessary desperation, anything is possible.