Before looking ahead to the next round, let’s take one last look at one specific goal which sums up the entire Bruins/Flyers series for Philadelphia.
This is a breakdown of Bruins forward Milan Lucic’s goal scored at the 15:03 mark of the third period of Game 4. This specific goal, as it’s broken down, shows many individual aspects and characteristics of why the Flyers were eliminated from the playoffs in four straight games.
(Images courtesy of NESN – ‘Right Click the images and select ‘View Image’ to see enlarged version of each image )
The play starts as Flyers forward Claude Giroux mans the right point and keeps the puck from leaving the Flyers offensive zone. Giroux shoots the puck down the side boards in what looks like an attempt to pass the puck to Andrej Meszaros.
Note that Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen is on his way off the ice on a line change.
Mezaros misses his chance to take possession of the puck. Lucic takes possession of the puck and shoots it into the mid slot area. Keep in mind that there are five Bruins skaters in the play to the Flyers four skaters.
Note that James van Riemsdyk is behind Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas’ net probably anticipating that Mezaros would pass the puck to him along the boards.
The Puck now arrives in the mid slot and Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk quickly clears the puck out of the zone in a very smart defensive play.
Note 1) that van Riemsdyk is now behind Thomas’ net essentially out of the play and 2) that there are still five Bruins skaters on the ice to the Flyers four skaters.
Flyers defenseman Matt Carle is now on the ice after Timonen finishes his line change. Johnny Boychuk’s clearing attempt is now at center ice with Nathan Horton and Carle racing to take possession of the puck. The two items to watch as the rest of the play develops is 1) how Lucic is aware of how the play is developing and 2) how Giroux seems to not have a clue of how the play is developing.
Note: There are two Flyers players heading off on a line change (a lazy one at that), one Bruins player heading off on a line change, and Carle now on the ice. Total: four Bruins skaters three Flyers skaters. Two of the Flyers skaters (van Reimsdyk and Carter) on the ice are still in the Flyers’ offensive zone.
This play develops further as the Flyers’ Carle takes possession of the puck with Horton approaching quickly. Watch how Lucic slides back behind Horton defensively while still keeping an eye on the play developing. Finally, Bruins forward Chris Kelly is now on the ice and is joining the play.
The main thing to note here is how Giroux takes his time getting off the ice. In this photo you see Giroux looking back at Carle while slowly skating towards the bench. Also note that Carle has zero puck support and that there is no one but Flyers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky in the Flyers’ defensive zone.
Horton has now taken possession of the puck after Carle attempts to shoot the puck pass Horton but ends up hitting Horton’s leg. Horton is now looking to make a play while perfectly positioning his body between Carle and the puck. This leaves Carle with practically no options on how to react to the play. Lucic and Kelly recognize the scoring opportunity and race to put themselves in a position to receive Horton’s pass at the blue line.
Note that Giroux is STILL not on the bench and that the only person in the Flyers defensive zone is still Bobrovsky. Also, van Reimsdyk and Carter (who finished the game with a minus-4) are both still in their offensive zone offering no help at all.
What results is a 2-0 breakaway for the Bruins….
Note that Giroux is still not fully off the ice.
Lucic winds up and….
Now watch the goal in real time…
Sure, the Flyers media and fans have made the goaltender situation in Philadelphia their whipping boys this post season. However, the way this one goal develops shows many of the reasons why the Flyers lost this series outside of goaltending. Slow passing, not reading plays correctly, no hustle, sloppy line changes, no puck support, no adjustments to the Bruins pressuring the puck carrier… the list goes on.
With the score just 2-1 with around five minutes remaining in the game, simple undisciplined errors in this game was the difference maker. A lot of little mistakes in the series, like the ones noted above, ended up being the difference between extending the Flyers playoff run and going golfing for the rest of the summer.