The Philadelphia Flyers are still the hottest team in the NHL as they easily handed the Boston Bruins yesterday with a 4-1 loss at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario. Carter Hart at 21 years of age continues to play like a Vezina Trophy caliber goaltender with a 34 save performance in his first career playoff start along with a stout defense and a fast forward core that tired out the Bruins defense quickly. The “Big Bad Bruins” couldn’t play like their “Big Bad Selves” once they fell behind as Philly simply looked like the hungrier team. The organization announced Tuukka Rask was unfit to play roughly 4 hours before the game so reliable veteran backup, Jaroslav Halak got the nod. A lack-luster game as he allowed 4 goals on 29 shots averaging an unexpected .862 save percentage, Halak is not all to blame as the B’s offense went cold and Charlie McAvoy looked as if he was the only defenseman out there trying to make plays.
As the first period was uneventful, both teams were having trouble staying out of the penalty box. Flyers’ Michael Raffl was called for slashing but the Bruins followed up with two penalties of their own, David Krejci for hooking and Brandon Carlo for tripping, both penalty killers raised up to the occasion as the first period ended scoreless. Shots on goal, 12-6 Boston.
A little over 5 minutes went by in the second period as Patrice Bergeron gave the puck up in the defensive zone to Travis Sanheim who made the clean pass down the middle to Raffl who scored glove side of Halak, 1-0 Flyers. “The Broad Street Bullies” kept their foot on the gas as Nate Thompson scored blocker side for a 2-0 lead, Ivan Provorov with the assist and Raffl with his second point of the game. If things couldn’t get even worse for the Bruins, defenseman, Matt Grzelcyk was making a clean check on the boards and to his surprise a floating puck whacked him on the nose sidelining him for a few minutes. After a near two flawless periods by Hart, Chris Wagner broke the shut out as he scored a wrap around barely squeezing the puck past Hart’s pad to cut the lead in half, Joakim Nordstrom and McAvoy tallied the assists. A mere and embarrassing 8 seconds later, Flyers defenseman, Philippe Myers took the puck off the faceoff and roofed it past Halak to make a commanding 3-1 Flyers lead.
The third period was the same old story, the Bruins continued to play like the “Cup” wasn’t on the line as Hart and his fellow teammates played like the “Cup” was on the line. The nail in the coffin for the lifeless B’s was at the 4:07 mark when Kevin Hayes found Scott Laughton who outskated Torey Krug and snipped it past Halak, 4-1 Flyers. It was a romp! With under 7 minutes to go, Jeremy Lauzon with a reckless hit on Raffl caused him to exit the game with a leg injury. Moments later, Laughton went after Lauzon but immediately the referees broke them up and handed each a 10-minute misconduct. The Bruins pulled Halak with a little over 3 minutes to go - last ditch effort but to no avail, the Flyers were victorious as the final buzzer sounded, 4-1.
The Flyers have looked sharp since the return with a win over the Penguins in their exhibition game and a convincing win against the Presidents’ Trophy winner. If they surpass the Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning, the Flyers will be the one seed in the playoffs sweeping the top three teams that finished above them in the Eastern Conference standings. As for the Bruins, they are notorious in struggling against powerhouse teams like the Capitals and Lightning, if they can’t find a way soon to get out of this slump, they will find themselves in the 4th seed after the Round Robin Series. Will the “Presidents’ Trophy Curse” live on? The next game for both teams will be against their bitter rivals, the Bruins take on the Lightning on Wednesday afternoon, August 5th, 4 P.M. ET and the Flyers take on the Capitals on Thursday, August 6th, TBD. The question still remains, Who will be the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference?