Before tonight, only five teams in NHL history have clawed their way back from an 0-3 hole in a playoff series to force a Game 7. Ladies and gentlemen, those five teams have company.
Incredibly, unbelievably, unfathomably, insert many other adjectives here, the Philadelphia Flyers have won three straight elimination games to tie the Boston Bruins in their best-of-seven series. One goal, one bounce really, away from being swept in Game 4, the Flyers have completely turned the tables on a shocked Boston club.
The orange and black got superb goaltending from Michael Leighton, timely scoring by Mike Richards and Danny Briere, and gutsy play after gutsy play on the defensive end, an unreal showing by the Wachovia Center crowd, and just straight guts to squeak out the victory in Game 6.
The Flyers are on the door step of the improbable and they simply do not die. There's not much more to say really, at least when to cohesive thought, so let's break it down into digestible bullet points.
- According to Anthony SanFillippo, Paul Holmgren has said that Blair Betts expects to play in Game 7. He appeared to dislocate his shoulder in the third period, when he went immediately off the ice and into the locker room. He returned to the bench but not to the ice, so this is welcome news.
- Michael Leighton, folks. Peter Laviolette was told post-game that Leighton admitted to being nervous before the game, but Lavi simply said "he didn't look it." He was square to the shooter, confident at every turn, excellent rebound control. He was beyond what we needed tonight and he absolutely delivered.
- It's a shame Leights didn't get the shutout, but try this on for size: it's good he gave up that late goal to Lucic. He hadn't given up a goal in his playoff career prior to tonight, but now that the first one is out of the way, he can enter Game 7 with confidence that if he gives one up, he can shake it off.
- The Flyers really say back at the end of the first and for most of the second period. One one side, it's impressive that they held off the Bruins for so long and actually almost got a shut out from it, but on the other side, they need to control the play some more. They were losing puck battles and seemingly didn't have the same hunger they did in Games 4 and 5. Needs to change, and Laviolette agrees.
- 30 blocked shots by the Flyers tonight, including one by the side of Kimmo Timonen's head.
- Pens lost. Mellon Arena = closed for business.
- If the Flyers win Game 7, they'll have home ice in the next round.
- History will be made, says the NHL.
- And the ECHL... the Bruins affiliate, the Reading Royals, choked away a 3-0 series lead to the Cincinnati Cyclones, who beat them in seven games to advance to the Kelly Cup Finals. First time in league history. The parallels are seriously creepy.
- Brian Boucher was teary-eyed thanks to the reception the crowd gave him when they showed him on the video board during the game. We miss you, Boosh.
- Ville Leino was awarded a penalty shot in a situation that probably didn't warrant one, but Tuukka Rask made an incredible save on a fine move by Big Ville Style.
- Mike Richter was seen in Ed Snider's box after the game. Color us confused, and color Rangers fans pissed.
The Flyers have a business-like attitude despite the win, which is beyond good to see. We can enjoy this, but even come tomorrow we're already going to nervous about Friday's Game 7. Nothing's been done yet, and none of this matters if they lose on Friday. Go Flyers. Let's make history.
After the jump, questions with answers and the comment of the night.
Questions with Answers
- The Bruins are talking about coming out and dictating the pace early. Can the Flyers prevent them from doing that, and can the Flyers dictate things instead? The Flyers completely controlled things from the get go, and it led to an early goal.
- Can Michael Leighton be as reliable as Brian Boucher has been in these playoffs? Yes. Yes. Yes.
- Will the defense tighten up even more in front of Leighton? Yes. The defense was superb in front of Leights tonight.
- The Bruins have also talked about getting their defense more involved offensively. Can the Flyers prevent this, and does it lead to more odd-man rushes for the orange and black? Chara was all over the place in the Flyers end, but they did a nice job of keeping his chances to the perimeter.
- Secondary offense from Hartnell, Leino, etc. Yes? No? Not on the board, but they looked good yet again.
- How does Claude Giroux look? Not as good, but he seemed rather pissed off with his play post game. I'd expect more out of that line come Friday.
- Any payback for the Marc Savard or Steve Begin incidents? Nah.
- Is this the last game of the season? Not a chance.
Comment of the Night
Is it Friday yet?