PHILADELPHIA -- It’s a series now.
If the Bruins can rebound from a devastating 4-0 loss and produce one more victory, they will advance to the conference finals for the first time since 1992. If the Flyers can continue to play with that desperation and continue to carry the momentum, then they will have an opportunity to force a Game 7 on Friday in Boston.
Here are a few keys for the Bruins in Game 6:
GOALTENDING: Unless you’ve been living under a Zamboni, you should know by now that Bruins rookie goaltender Tuukka Rask has played extremely well for Boston in the playoffs. He outdueled the Sabres’ Ryan Miller in the first round, and Rask has been consistent against the Flyers.
At the other end of the ice, the goaltending carousel for the Flyers continues to spin out of control. Brian Boucher emerged as the No. 1 netminder for the Flyers down the stretch of the regular season and was terrific in the first round against the Devils and Marty Brodeur. Boucher was playing well in this series, too, until he suffered a sprained MCL early in the second period of Game 5.
The Flyers had to rely on Michael Leighton, who had never played in the Stanley Cup playoffs and hadn’t played in a game since early March after suffering a high-ankle sprain. When he entered the game cold, the Bruins did a horrible job creating chances and getting shots on Leighton. Boston recorded a total of 12 shots on him.
In Game 6, the Bruins have to be better in that department. It’s not just about getting shots. The Bruins need to create quality scoring chances.
“If you’re going to throw shots at a goaltender just for the sake of throwing shots at him, you’re going to help him more than hurt him,” explained Bruins coach Claude Julien. “If you’re just going to throw shots from anywhere that are not really good shots, all you’re doing is giving him confidence. They have to be good shots and have to be done with a purpose.”
START ME UP: The Bruins need to establish their game plan immediately in Game 6. Boston needs to create shots and attempt to get the early momentum. The first goal will be very important in this game. Boston will need to match Philadelphia’s intensity, especially since the game is being played at Wachovia Center.
“We’re obviously not happy with our last game,” said Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart. “We’re going to be a lot better tonight and there are some things we’ve talked about that we can remedy.”
CAPTAIN Z and the DEFENDERS: Bruins captain Zdeno Chara has been non-existent the last two games. The Flyers have done a solid job shutting down Boston’s blueliners in the offensive zone. Only two Bruins defensemen -- Andrew Ference and Dennis Wideman -- registered shots (2) in Game 5. Chara needs to be a physical presence and must adjust and find a way to create chances in front of Leighton. Most of the Bruins’ offense in the playoffs has started from the point.
OFFENSE: Without top playmaker David Krejci in the lineup, the Bruins need others to step up in this category. The line of Vladimir Sobotka, Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler has to do something offensively. Too often in this series that line has been playing more in the neutral zone and has been a non-factor.
"It does seem like lately we’ve been playing more in the neutral zone and not getting the puck in and not creating things,” said Ryder. “For our line, that’s not the way we want to play. We want to get the puck in, cycle and create chances. We’re not doing that. We’re an average line and we need to be the difference-maker.”
Fortunately for the Bruins, at least Ryder recognizes the fact.
“I think it’s important that everybody takes that philosophy, not just Michael Ryder’s line, but every line should go out there with the intention of being the difference maker,” said Julien. “If you’re going in with the right intentions and a great mind frame, that’s what it’s all about. When you play this game you want to be able to bring something to your team, and that something has to be something positive.”
HISTORY IN THE MAKING? If Philadelphia can win the next two, it will be the third team in NHL history to come back from such a deficit.
“We haven’t talked about it much,” admitted Flyers coach Peter Laviolette. “Certainly everybody understands the difficult challenge that an 0-3 series presents. That’s part of the story you write through the course of the playoffs if you’re able to get through it, it’s part of the story. Our guys are well aware of it. Certainly they know not many teams get an opportunity at something like this. Any time you can put your name to a positive mark in history like that, it certainly would be a good thing.”
THEY SAID IT: “They’re going to come out very energized tonight because they’re in front of their home crowd and they certainly want to send a message,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “We’ve got to be ready to push back. ... We want to have that killer instinct and you obviously have to be poised and smart.”