For two weeks it has been an epic battle between two bitter conference rivals. Now, the Flyers-Sabres Eastern Conference quarterfinal story comes down to just one more night, just one more game. Left-winger Ville Leino kept the Flyers’ hopes alive with an overtime goal in Game 6, sending the series back to South Philly to determine who will move on to the next round.
A bit of a disappointment so far this postseason Leino has found redemption. After scoring 21 points during the Flyers historic Stanley Cup run last season, the Finnish native has scored only two goals in the series versus Buffalo.
The series has seen its share of drama and intrigue, especially for the Flyers, in the first six games and it is only appropriate that it shall come down to one final curtain call.
And like a great action movie right out of Tinseltown, this too makes for a climatic ending. For the Flyers it certainly has been a poor remake of the Clint Eastwood classic, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”
The good, there really isn’t much to choose from. As a team the Flyers with all their November promise has washed away with the April showers. Danny Briere, who’s five goals leads Philadelphia, gets the top billing. The former Sabres Captain has scored in four of the six games.
James van Riemsdyk has been the best Flyer overall. His 38 shots on goal van Riemsdyk has had more scoring chance than any one player in the playoffs. Honorable mention goes to Claude Giroux. The center has 7 total points and has a plus-4 rating.
The bad, a no-brainer here, the Philadelphia power play. The Flyers have managed three goals in their Stanley Cup playoff high 31 opportunities. During last years run to the finals the Flyers scored 23 goals in 23 games, a far cry from the 9.7 percent they have shown in their first-round series this year.
And the ugly award goes to, Philadelphia’s goaltending. Three times head coach Peter Laviolette has pulled his netminder after surrendering three soft goals in the first period of games. A huge question mark to begin the series, the Flyers goalies have not disappointed and have lived up to their shaky billing.
A backup to start the quarterfinals Brian Boucher will be the starter in net for Game 7, and deservingly so. A first-round pick of the Flyers in 1995, he is Philadelphia’s most successful goalie this series with a 2.12 goals against average, allowing just 8 goals on 123 Sabres’ shots.
Timing is everything and the NHL can cash in on the soap opera that the Philadelphia-Buffalo series has supplied. And, with the announcement of the canceled daytime dramas, those looking for suspense, horror, a few tears, and plenty of celebration with a great storyline, will have to tune in for Game 7 and they are sure to get all of that and plenty more. They may even get a good ole’ fashion melee to boot.