The Philadelphia Flyers have surprised a fair number of people by knocking off the New Jersey Devils and becoming the first team in the post-season to advance in the playoffs.
It took a shootout victory against the New York Rangers to get them in, but once they were in the post-season the Flyers made a serious run for it and took out the Devils in five games. In a series that exemplified the heart of the Flyers team, both Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne broke their right foot blocking shots in Game 4 and Ian Laperriere needed 60-70 stitches to close a cut he suffered after, you guessed it, blocking a shot.
Team toughness was certainly big for the Flyers, so it’s a good thing they’ve got some time to rest up and prepare for the next round.
It’s no secret that the team had a rough go of it in the regular season. Hopes were high with the acquisition of Chris Pronger and even Ray Emery was brought aboard with some confidence, but injuries and underachieving play quickly became the story in Philly and coach John Stevens found himself out on his can. Peter Laviolette took over the post and things seemed to turn around slowly.
Injuries are still a problem, as Emery’s been out and so has Michael Leighton. It was up to Brian Boucher to step it up against Martin Brodeur and he wound up winning the goaltending duel. Allowing eight goals in the series and finishing with a .940 save percentage, Boucher certainly proved he was up to the task.
With a little bit of time to heal and review tape, the Flyers will be ready for the next round. They won’t have Carter or Gagne in the lineup and that’ll hurt, but other players have been stepping it up in the meantime. Being the last team to qualify and the first team to advance has got to feel good.
Posted by Jordan Richardson.