The Flyers have outplayed the Sabres for a lot of periods without coming away with the lead. Some combination of Miller standing on his head or a weak goal against has always kept it out of reach.
This time around, the Flyers dominated – and the scoreboard showed it.
They only came away with one goal in the first, but a two goal second period had the Flyers in control going into the third – there would be no comeback this night.
Chris Pronger, who played a significant amount of ice time for the first time since March 8th, said that the team recognized the “magnitude of the game” and played accordingly.
“I think we all understood that it was game seven in our building,” Pronger said. “Obviously we were fired up and excited to play,” he said. “You know, I think we just wanted to continue to press and try to keep our foot on the gas and not give them any life – we were able to do that during the third.”
Though they only managed one goal in the first, their play spoke volumes throughout the night. The Flyers outshot the Sabres 16-2 in the opening frame.
Claude Giroux, who led the Flyers with five hits and two assists, said the fans were a significant factor in his team’s start.
“We didn’t have a good start pretty much all series, and I think it was pretty clear that we wanted to come out strong,” he said. “When we saw the fans, it was a little motivation. The shots, 16-2 I think it was – guys were working hard around the puck, skating, and I think everybody showed up.”
For the Flyers, the key was just surviving this rollercoaster series. Three goaltenders, multi-goal comebacks, and they manage to come out and dominate the deciding Game 7.
Danny Briere stepped up with a goal and an assist. Briere has 94 points in 93 career playoff games – few players are so “clutch.”
Though he says it’s just a matter of luck, his teammates know there’s something more to it.
Briere’s youngest teammate, James van Riemsdyk, sees him as a veteran presence to look up to.
“It seems like every time the game gets bigger, he plays better,” van Riemsdyk said. “He’s been unbelievable for us all year.”
That ability to step up when the situation calls for it is a hallmark of this team. Ever since winning the shootout last season to make the playoffs, they’ve been a team that knows how to come through in the clutch.
Danny Briere attributes success in this series to the experience gained since last year’s playoff run.
“I think that our experience really showed,” he said. “It’s not a secret, we have played a lot of big games in the last year with mostly the same group. I think that had a lot to do with it.
“We have done it many times, and have won most of them. Once again, I love the character of our team.”
With character like that, these up-and-down, back-and-forth series are par for the course. Most players crack under the pressure – these players thrive.