Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bruins lay smackdown on Flyers in 6-0 victory

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor
The only thing I know for certain after a half-season of watching the Flyers this year, is that the more you cover them, the greater the chances to witness history.
That was the case again on Saturday afternoon, as the Boston Bruins laid an historic 6-0 licking on Philadelphia.
There's nothing quite like having the defending Stanley Cup champions walk all over you in your own rink to give you a dose of reality concerning the fitness of your young roster. And so, a seven-game win streak which had erased doubts in the minds of those who thought the Flyers could sail by without Claude Giroux and Chris Pronger with minimal damage, came to a crashing halt.
The Flyers were blanked at home for the first time since last March 31, a 1-0 defeat to Atlanta, and were shut out for just the second time all season.
But that was just the tip of the iceberg. The six-goal margin was the largest in a home shutout loss against the Bruins in Philly's 45-year history. The previous high was three goals, last done by Thomas on December 1, 2010.
And so, the Bruins ascended to the top of the Eastern Conference standings by virtue of claiming one more win (21-20) than the Flyers. Both clubs have 43 points.
Tim Thomas turned in his usual contortionist act with 31 saves, Rich Peverley paced the visitors with three assists, and six different goal scorers punctured Ilya Bryzgalov and Sergei Bobrovsky.
Bryzgalov sustained the majority of the damage, giving up five goals on just 20 shots in just over 27 minutes of action. If not for Bobrovsky's 16 saves over the rest of regulation, it could have been much, much worse.
And if that wasn't bad enough, Sean Couturier was sent to hospital after the game, tested for concussion symptoms after he was gonged in the back of his head by an errant Kimmo Timonen slap shot.
The long day's journey into night began only 27 seconds after the opening faceoff, when Peverley sent a long lead pass from the right wing near the boards over to the left wing, where Benoit Pouliot managed to redirect it in.
It was 2-0 for Boston at 2:50 when Dennis Seidenberg's point shot was tipped in by Daniel Paille on the doorstep. It was the first of several goals scored in that manner, the absence of Pronger most evident in that way.
The lead grew to 4-0 before the end of the first period thanks to a pair of power-play scores.
On the first, coming just after the 8:08 mark, Zdeno Chara -- who returned to the lineup after a two-game absence with a leg injury suffered at Columbus one week ago, was able to take a shot from the bottom of the left circle that sailed untouched past Bryzgalov.
The next tally, with 2:50 remaining in the opening period, saw Milan Lucic tip-in a slap pass from Joe Corvo, again at the side of the net, and again without a Flyers checker near him. It came during a 5-on-3 advantage which lasted almost two minutes because Scott Hartnell and Braydon Coburn committed infractions four seconds apart -- with Coburn's being a delay-of-game call for shooting the puck out of play behind Thomas from his own zone.
Hartnell then tried to stoke the fires of the home crowd by mixing it up with Johnny Boychuk, but it was a momentary salve.
The crowd fell deathly silent when Couturier went down with 48.7 seconds left in the first. After he was sprawled out on the ice for several minutes, he was escorted to the loccker room by training staff and reportedly had to be steadied several times.
A relatively sedate second period was disquieted after Horton was alone in front to tap home a Chara left point shot at the 7:06 mark, less than a minute into a James van Riemsdyk roughing minor.
That was enough for Peter Laviolette, who finally pulled the plug on his erstwhile space cadet in favor of his more grounded Russian backup.
Things finally boiled over with 3:39 to play in the second, after Lucic revived his status as Public Enemy Number One after boarding Zac Rinaldo inside the Philadelphia zone. Undaunted, Rinaldo got back on his feet and started pounding away at the taller and larger Horton to mad applause.
For his trouble, Lucic was hit with a major for checking from behind plus a game misconduct and will certainly now have a visit with discipline czar Brendan Shanahan on the horizon.
Boston emerged unscathed from the series, as the best chance the hosts had on the entire 5-minute advantage came when Briere missed a half-open net from the left circle before intermission.
With the outcome already decided, the Bruins served up one more volley to the Philadelphia net in the third period as Seguin ripped a dipping wrister home from between the circles with 7:48 to play.
Notes: Boston has won nine of its last 11 games in Philadelphia...Thomas has blanked the Flyers in two of his last three regular-season starts here...The last time the Flyers trailed by as much as five goals at home against the Bruins was in a 5-3 loss at the Spectrum on December 17, 1972...The B's last scored four times in the first period at Philly came on January 21, 1993 in a 5-4 victory...Saturday marked the worst home shutout defeat to the Bruins in Flyers' history and the largest margin of defeat against Boston since dropping a 7-1 decision at home on December 6, 1992.
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