Flyers ready to face Bruins

By JAY BOEHMER
Senior Hockey Insider — jboehmer@highhopesblog.com
_______

With a few days off to rest and prepare, the Flyers are anxious to get at the Boston Bruins in Game 1 Saturday. (Courtesy Philly.com)

This time last year, the Flyers were preparing for a series against the Boston Bruins. Their preparations may not have to change much this year, but there’s certainly going to be something new in everyone’s mind.

The ghost of last year’s history-making comeback is looming over the Flyers’ upcoming series, and the players all seem to have a different reaction to it.

Scott Hartnell, for one, sees the Flyers harnessing the energy from the last four games of that series – one in which they came back from down 3-0 to win in seven games.

“[Last year] is still fresh in everybody’s mind obviously,” he said. “It definitely gave us a big boost that we can beat these guys. I think we haven’t lost too many players and we got a couple new ones. Hopefully we can feed off that energy of the last four games of that series.”

With that comeback, the Flyers proved that they can and will fight to the very end – especially with a playoff series on the line.

That trend has continued and even grown into this season, most recently with their multi-goal comebacks against the Buffalo Sabres.

The Flyers’ top playoff performer – Danny Briere – thinks that ability to fight back is the Flyers’ real lesson from last year’s series.

“I’m sure that they will use that [chip on their shoulder] to their advantage,” he said. “But at the same time, it goes both ways. We might be in their heads as well. We have that confidence that no matter what happens, we seem to play well.”

Whatever extra baggage these players may bring with them from last season, though, this is a new year and these are new games to be played.

The real focus has to be on how these teams stack up against each other.

The most obvious match up is always the goaltenders.

Tim Thomas – shoo-in Vezina winner with a record-setting season – and Brian Boucher – journeyman veteran just trying to give his team a chance to win.

The edge here obviously goes to the Bruins, but to the Flyers, that doesn’t matter.

Brian Boucher says it’s a team game for a reason, and has faith in the players in front of him to make up for any differences in goal.

“I think in just about every series that I have played in my career I have probably been the underdog in it,” he said. “The other goalies probably got the edge and that’s fine. We have a good hockey team in here – I believe in my teammates.

“When push comes to shove we can score goals and keep it out of our net from a team standpoint. That’s all I’m concerned about.”

And that highlights the Flyers’ key advantage. As they’ve had over almost every team all season – this team simply has depth.

On offense, they have three lines that not only rival, but often surpass the other team’s top scoring line.

On defense, they have five skaters that could play on any team’s top pairing.

The Bruins have three lines that they could roll, but each falls short of its orange and black counterpart.

Skater for skater, the Flyers have the better team.

And when it comes down to it, the Flyers will not settle with a loss. This team has the mindset and tools to win – they simply have to make it happen.

For Scott Hartnell, it starts with the momentum they carry from the opening round’s Game 7.

[Game 7] was a big win at home,” he said. “We were excited about it. That first period of hockey was one of the best periods we’ve played in a long time.

“We just got to remember what we did last game at home, feel that momentum from the crowd, and get after it.”

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