As I sit in playoff limbo here in the Bay Area, waiting for my next assignment, some views from afar from my hotel room on Sunday's NHL drama: Flyers 5, Sabres 4 OT
The Philadelphia Flyers are one win away from the second round despite starting three different goalies in six games. Mind-boggling.
There's no doubt who will start Game 7 on Tuesday night in Philadelphia. Boucher was solid in stopping 24 of 25 shots Sunday and head coach Peter Laviolette, who hasn't quite had the Midas touch in goalie starting assignments this series -- giving up on Sergei Bobrovsky after the two opening games -- has no choice but to go back to Boucher. In a rare move, the Flyers coach ended any suspense ahead of Game 7 by announcing to reporters after the game Sunday that Boucher would be back in goal Tuesday night.
If there's a player, however, who is responsible for the Flyers avoiding elimination Sunday it's Danny Briere. With his team on the ropes Sunday, Briere's two goals were pivotal to getting his team back on a level playing field. It should surprise absolutely nobody in Western New York who got to enjoy Briere's talents for four seasons in his previous NHL stop, but Briere oozes guts and character, and he's the reason his team can live to fight another day. He now has a team-leading five goals, and he's paying the price physically to get those goals, taking a pounding in Ryan Miller's crease in this series.
The Sabres, meanwhile, looked out of gas in overtime. They lost another forward Sunday in Tim Connolly after he took a borderline hit from Mike Richards and crumbled to the ice. Jason Pominville is out with a leg injury, and of course Derek Roy still isn't back. The Sabres are getting thin up front. There are rumblings that Roy might be close, but we'll have to stay tuned on that one.
Sunday was the golden opportunity for Buffalo to complete the upset at home. Now the Sabres head into one of the NHL's most hostile rinks where they will attempt to win for a third time in the series. A tall order, but by now, no one should ever count out these resilient Sabres.
Miller was beaten for five goals Sunday, but he was peppered for 49 shots so let's not hang this one on him. Still, he's going to have to be the most important player on the ice Tuesday night for the Sabres to take this series. The Flyers' offensive depth is wearing down the Sabres' young defense, and they'll get more shots and more scoring chances again Tuesday. Miller must deliver his best gem of the playoffs Tuesday night for the Sabres to continue their playoff journey this spring.
First and foremost, Miller needs to find a way to stop his old buddy, and now nemesis, Briere.