At home, Bruins flatten the Flyers to take command
So, here we are again. Second round of the playoffs. Bruins with a 3-0 series lead over Philadelphia. The Flyers just a cart ride away from 18 holes. Everybody knows what happened last time such a circumstance took place.
It is highly unlikely, however, the same fate that torpedoed the 2009-10 Bruins will flatten this year’s version. Last night, in a 5-1 thumping of the flatlining Flyers before 17,565 at TD Garden, the Bruins rolled out reason after reason they will not lose four times in the next four games.
They booted Brian Boucher for the third time in the series, the last chasing coming after Nathan Horton slipped a shot through a five-hole wide enough to accommodate a Fung Wah bus.
They struck twice in the opening 63 seconds to set the tone, plant ghosts in the Flyers’ heads, and prove to themselves they were the aggressors.
On the opening shift, Boucher robbed Brad Marchand on a point-blank chance. But the Bruins hunted down the rebound, and as Marchand swung out from behind the net with the puck, he heard Zdeno Chara screaming. Once Chara got the puck, the captain catapulted his trademark slap shot over Boucher just 30 seconds in.
“At first, I was thinking to come out,’’ Marchand said. “But then I saw a guy coming at me. Z was coming in from the point and yelling at me. I was able to get my head up and see him. He was wide open. Great job by him to communicate with me there.’’
The Bruins snapped an 0-for-the-playoffs power-play slump (30 previous failures) when Chara buried a five-on-three strike in garbage time.
They thumped the Flyers early. Ask Ville Leino how he felt after a first-period shift when Marchand wiped him out at one end, then Johnny Boychuk cleaned his clock at the other.
“It was one of those games where I was angry the whole time,’’ said Marchand (game-high seven hits). “My emotions get the best of me, just trying to run around and kill guys. Just one of those games. It’s not like that every night, but tonight was one of those nights.’’
But perhaps the most significant checkmark from last night’s action plan was the exquisite attention to detail. The Bruins cleaned house on the draw, winning 43 of 55 drops. They backchecked furiously, no better than how Michael Ryder busted up a Claude Giroux chance halfway through the second when the lead was only two goals. They allowed 38 shots, but no more than a handful of bonafide scoring chances.
It was the kind of game after which a coach could kick back with a cold drink and a warm cigar, satisfied with how his charges executed the game plan to near-perfection.
“It’s up there. No doubt,’’ Claude Julien said when asked how high the game ranked among the season’s best. “I thought our guys responded well and played a solid game.’’
The perfect example was the Bruins’ third goal. After allowing the two early goals — Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette called his timeout after David Krejci made it a 2-0 score — the Flyers settled down and held serve.
Midway through the second, the Flyers sprinted over the offensive blue line for a rare odd-man rush. Danny Briere carried the puck into the high slot. Briere dished to Danny Syvret on his right. Syvret spotted Kris Versteeg breaking down the left wing. But so did Boychuk.
Boychuk, the right-side defenseman charged with marking Versteeg, read the play perfectly. Boychuk stepped up, tightened his gap just as Syvret made a cross-ice pass, and picked off the puck.
“I’d seen him looking all the way over to the far side,’’ Boychuk said. “[Syvret] wasn’t high enough to take that shot. I saw him looking for that pass. I just tried to intercept it.’’
Once Boychuk cut off the pass and bumped the puck up to Gregory Campbell, the execution continued. As Campbell steamed down the right wing, Shawn Thornton buried his head and raced up the middle of the ice. At the same time, Daniel Paille saw that Thornton was providing middle drive, so he curled to the left side.
“Just driving,’’ Thornton said. “You have to have a net drive.’’
Because Thornton charged to the front of the net, Mike Richards had to go with the right wing. That opened up a seam for Campbell to find Paille on the left wing. Paille didn’t miss.
The left wing, stoned on a breakaway in Game 2, buried a top-shelf strike over Boucher at 13:39 to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead.
“If Shawn’s not there, that backchecking forward looks for me,’’ said Paille. “Soon as I saw Shawn, I stayed back. Soup had his head up the whole way. For me, it was nothing more than shooting.’’
In the third, the Bruins went into lockdown mode. Tim Thomas stopped all 12 shots. The Flyers had zero pushback, with too many of their star players — Richards, Briere, and Giroux exhibited little presence — showing nothing resembling heartbeats. They looked like a team that used up its best stuff in the third period and overtime of Game 2, only to be denied repeatedly by Thomas.
Tomorrow, the Flyers will have to bring more than a knife to a gunfight.
“I’m sure they’re very disappointed in their effort tonight,’’ Paille said. “They’re going to be like Game 2 and come out firing. We should be ready for that.’’