The Flyers’ focus going into the second round wasn’t on the goalie match up – they clearly have no advantage there – but rather on playing better as a team.
They wanted a strong team effort – to carry the momentum from an excellent Game 7 performance into the next round.
They failed to do that and collapsed as a result, while the Bruins sailed steady for an easy win.
Mike Richards, who scored his first goal of the playoffs, said it’s everyone’s responsibility to play better in front of the goalie.
“We could’ve been better as a group,” the Flyers’ captain said. “Defense is played by five guys on the ice and a goaltender. We left our goaltender hanging tonight. Forwards didn’t come down and cover their men. We could’ve been better a five man unit in the defensive end.”
When forwards don’t pull their weight in the defensive end, defensemen are left scrambling – forced to cover more men than they can handle.
That’s when attackers find open ice, and that’s when goals are scored.
Nearly every Boston goal was the result of blown coverage down low.
When the other team puts up seven goals and runs your starting goaltender out of the net, it’s easy to focus on problems with netminding.
That wasn’t the problem, here, though.
While Brian Boucher takes responsibility for the pucks that got by him, Kimmo Timonen said that’s not his fault.
“It was a bad game from us on every level, emotionally and skating-wise,” Timonen said. “Nothing seemed to work for us tonight. It wasn’t anything to do with the goaltending. It was all about us.”
The solution, he says, it not just to work harder but work together.
“We just have to play harder in front of the crease,” he said. “If the puck gets there, we have to make sure that they don’t get there first. It’s the whole unit out there. It’s not just the defensemen or goaltending. It’s forwards and us – we weren’t working together today.”
Whether it’s a player left open to skate it in or a rebound left floating in the slot, there were simply too many instances of Bruins’ players finding space in tight.
Part of the problem in defensive coverage stems from the faceoff circle. When you lose faceoffs, players chase pucks, get caught out of position, and give up chances.
The Flyers’ top two defensive faceoff men – Blair Betts and Mike Richards – combined for a dismal 0.35 percent, winning only 12 of 35.
Whatever the case may be, the Flyers now find themselves down to start another series – business as usual.
They’ll have to come back and steal a game in Boston if they hope to move on.
Danny Briere says that this habit of falling down before fighting back needs to stop before it comes back to bite the Flyers.
“I don’t know what it is,” he said. “The past couple of years it seems we need adversity to start playing better. This needs to be an eye opener because we’ll be done in a hurry if we keep playing that way.”