All day the questions lingered – is this the end, or just the beginning of another historical comeback?
The Bruins answered that with more of the same – continued hard work, constant energy, and a back-to-basics strategy of simply outworking the Flyers.
They took a first period lead on a shorthanded defensive breakdown by the Flyers, and the Flyers fought until the second period to tie it up – when Kris Versteeg notched his only playoff goal to knot the game at one apiece.
Johnny Boychuck put the Bruins back on top in the third, and Milan Lucic sealed the deal with minutes left before a pair of empty net goals led to the 5-1 finish.
The Flyers tried, but did not play the kind of game they’d feel comfortable sitting on for a whole postseason.
“The team that was playing better is moving on.”
Those were the words of defenseman Sean O’Donnell, who recognized that the Flyers were simply outplayed in this series.
Claude Giroux saw the same thing.
“It’s our fault,” he said. “I really think they outworked us, they won the battles. Their team was better than our team.
“I don’t think we played the way we should have.”
The Bruins may not have been more talented, but they skated harder, hit harder, and all-around worked harder.
That meant a defense that stifled the Flyers’ scoring depth and an offense that counterpunched with deadly efficiency.
The Flyers’ problems started in the opening minutes of Game 1 – they fell behind.
Playing from behind – as they’re so accustomed to doing – takes a toll on the body and mind, and the players feel that’s what ultimately did them in.
Sean O’Donnell says it started back as early as the opening round against Buffalo.
“Series are never easy,” he said. “We put ourselves behind the eight ball. It seems like this team enjoys getting our backs to the walls and then responding – I think it took a little more out of us in the first round than it should have.”
Peter Laviolette saw a chance to take control of the series in Game 1, yet the team failed to play the way they needed.
“You are in your building and we don’t play the way [we want],” he said. “We never seemed to get into it. We didn’t get a win, we didn’t get in the series – Game one, that was a blown opportunity.”
And as this team surely learned when coming back against the Bruins last year – if you don’t finish when you have the opportunity, the game, the series, might just be stolen right out from under you.