Bruins have a score to settle with Flyers

Posted: December 01, 2010

The last time these teams met, frustrated Boston Bruins fans were heaving yellow rally towels onto the ice while the joy-struck Flyers were jumping over the boards to join their teammates in an improbable celebration.

In Boston, it was known as The Ultimate Choke - blowing a three-games-to-none series advantage, along with a 3-0 first-period lead in Game 7 - in last season's epic Eastern Conference semifinals.

In Philadelphia, it was known as a comeback for the ages - just the third time in NHL history a team had overcome a three-games-to-none series deficit. And just the fourth time it was accomplished in any of the four major sports.

Fast-forward to Wednesday, when the Flyers will host the Bruins in the teams' first meeting since last spring's zany series.

The Bruins have a score to settle.

"I'm sure they're not going to be too thrilled and they'll want to send a message playing us," said winger James van Riemsdyk, who started the comeback in the 4-3 Game 7 win last season with a goal that trimmed Boston's lead to 3-1. "But we're ready to go out there and get back to our winning ways."

The Bruins, 1-3-1 in their last five games, can't get the collapse out of their collective minds.

Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk told Boston reporters there was "a little burning in our hearts over what happened last year."

After the Bruins won the first three games, they looked like such a shoo-in that the father of Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was receiving grief at the Massachusetts golf course where he works as a starter.

"He took a lot, to the point where one guy came in with a broom in his golf bag," Laviolette said after Tuesday's practice in Voorhees.

That was before the Flyers, stunningly, swept the last four games.

"I haven't forgotten about it," Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said. "I don't look far enough ahead in the schedule to circle anything, but we definitely shouldn't be forgetting about it."

Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen downplayed the rematch, saying what happened last season doesn't carry over into this year.

Defenseman Chris Pronger, however, expects the Bruins to play with extra motivation.

"Obviously, it brings back a bad taste in their mouth," Pronger said. "We've got to worry about playing the game. Our last two efforts haven't been that great, so we need to come in prepared to play because we know they will be."

In his superb career, Pronger said the comeback against Boston is among his best memories.

"We were written off for dead by a lot of you folks," said Pronger, whose team was 29th (out of 30) at one point last season. "I think the biggest thing for us was that we believed in the locker room. We felt we were in every game and had a chance to win every game."

After beating Boston, the Flyers cruised past Montreal and reached the Stanley Cup Finals.

The momentum from those playoffs has carried into this season, as the Flyers are among the NHL's elite with 34 points.

"That whole series is something I'll remember for the rest of my life - being part of something that's rarely been done," center Danny Briere said about the seven-game win over Boston. "It was just an amazing feeling after the game was over."

The Flyers (15-6-4) are 3-0-2 in their last five games, but they are coming off shoot-out losses to Calgary and New Jersey. The Flyers struggled early in the two defeats.

Playing Boston (12-8-2) may shake them out of their early-game blues.

"It's easier to obviously get up for a game like this," Briere said. "They're a tough team to play against. We know they're still going to remember what happened last year and they're going to come out trying to show something. We beat them four in a row, so they're going to be ready for us."

And vice versa.

Breakaways. Laviolette wouldn't announce his goalie for Wednesday, but it's expected to be Sergei Bobrovsky. . . . Tim Thomas, who has a staggering .951 save percentage, is Boston's probable goalie. . . . Michael Leighton was sent to the AHL's Phantoms for a six-day rehab stint. . . . The Flyers spent half their practice working on their power play, which is 2 for its last 34.


Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at 215-854-5181 or scarchidi@phillynews.com.

Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BroadStBull.

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