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After two nail-biting victories on Garden ice, the B’s take to the road, heading south on I-95 to the “City of Brotherly Tasers,” as the second round series shifts to Philadelphia for tonight’s Game 3.
Boston narrowly escaped the first two games of this series, winning each with late game-winning goals, most recently in Game 2 Monday, with Milan Lucic’s wrister in the final minutes of the third period. With a two-game series lead in their hands, the B’s hope to keep the Flyers from sniffing even an ounce of momentum, instead looking to put the third nail in the Flyers’ coffin tonight in front of what promises to be a loud and raucous Philly faithful.
Lots to get to before these two juggernauts take to the ice this evening, so let’s jump right into some pre-game notes…
– Monday’s Game 2 win by the B’s extended their home playoff winning streak to five games, the longest such streak since the early 90’s when Boston won eight straight on Garden ice… that is, the REAL Boston Garden ice. Where this home cooking came from is sort of a mystery, as the B’s struggled mightily to stay above .500 at home all year, finishing at a lackluster 18-17-6 on Causeway Street.
– Boston is 20-6 all-time in seven-game playoff series when taking a 2-0 lead. Philadelphia is just 2-12 when facing an 0-2 deficit.
– Dominating the headlines after Game 2, “Bitegate” has taken on a life of its own since Monday’s Game 2 win. I speak of course of Philadelphia’s Daniel Carcillo alleging that Boston’s Marc Savard bit his finger during a second period scrum. No video has surfaced of the alleged chomp, and Savard has vehemently denied sinking his teeth into the Flyer’s digit. The league hasn’t hit anyone with a punishment, so hopefully the story has lost its legs.
– A bit of good news seen on the Bruins flight to Philly, as defenseman Mark Stuart joined the team for the trip. Stuart, who has missed over a month with a bone infection in his hand, is back practicing with the team. Head coach Claude Julien has ruled him out of action for tonight’s Game 3, but the possibility of Stuart returning to the ice in this series is still a very real possibility.
– One of Boston’s biggest bright spots as of late has been the play of winger Miroslav Satan. Satan was a midseason pickup by GM Peter Chiarelli, after the veteran started the season not a part of any NHL roster. While his contributions were minimal during the regular season, Satan has made significant strides down the stretch and in the playoffs. With his goal and assist Monday, he currently enjoys a five-game points streak, with four goals and four assists total during that time. His spot on the team’s second line with David Krejci seems etched in stone, as they both have fed off each others’ hot streaks, helping the once anemic Bruins offense to show signs of life here in the playoffs.
– Eerily enough, the Flyers can look back just 10 years ago, and they would have found themselves in a very similar position as they find themselves in now. Down 0-2 to Pittsburgh in the 2000 Eastern Conference semifinals, Philly called on then-young goaltender Brian Boucher to right the ship. Boucher and the Flyers would then reel off four straight wins to come back and advance to the Conference finals, in what was only the second time in franchise history the Flyers came back from an 0-2 hole. So to say the Flyers are sunk might be a bit premature.
– Lastly, we catch up with action around the league in the other playoff series. The defending champion Penguins were able to regain their lead over Montreal in Game 3, shutting out the Habs 2-0 to go up 2-1 in the series. Out West, the Sharks earned their third straight 4-3 victory over Detroit Tuesday night, thanks to a Patrick Marleau overtime goal. San Jose will aim for the sweep on Thursday. And tonight marks Game 3 for the other series in the West, with Vancouver hosting the Chicago Blackhawks, with that series knotted at a game a piece.