Quantcast 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs - Eastern Conference Semifinals: Boston Bruins vs Philadelphia Flyers
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2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs – Semifinals Preview

Eastern Conference Semifinals - (3) Boston Bruins vs. (2) Philadelphia Flyers

 

 

The mark of good journalists and wise headline writers is normally found in the ability to look beyond the obvious, to dig beneath the surface and uncover new layers of fresh meaning in a story. Predictable themes and narratives can become stale, distracting the masses from more urgent issues and more revelatory tension points.

In this series between the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers, however, one shouldn’t pretend to think that any central storylines will emerge from unexpected sources. In this case, the easy point of focus is the proper point of focus. The undeniable piece of recent history looming over this confrontation is exactly what everyone should be talking and writing about.

Indeed, let’s not beat around the bush: When Boston and Philadelphia begin their best-of-seven series tomorrow at the Wells Fargo Center in the City of Brotherly Love, the spotlight will fall squarely on the Bruins, who lost a 3-0 series lead last spring to the very same Flyers. Yes, Boston became just the third team in NHL history – the fourth in major-league North American professional sports – to gack away a three-game lead in the playoffs. The 1942 Detroit Red Wings blew a 3-0 lead to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Stanley Cup Finals. In 1975, the Pittsburgh Penguins choked away a 3-0 advantage against the New York Islanders. In 2004, of course, the baseball world witnessed its first seven-game miracle, as the New York Yankees wasted a 3-0 bulge against the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series.

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Yes, Boston made history last year… in the worst way imaginable for a professional sports team. The Bs jumped on Philadelphia in the first three games of the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals, only to lose the last four, including Game 7 at home in Beantown. The numbing disappointment underscored the frustrations of a Boston franchise that hasn’t won the Stanley Cup since 1972. Sure, Philadelphia hasn’t won the Cup since 1975, but the Flyers have at least reached the Stanley Cup Finals more often than Boston has over the years. The 1990 season marked Boston’s last journey to the final stage of the NHL playoffs, but Philly went the distance in 1997 and last season as well. When the New Jersey Devils ruled the roost in the Eastern Conference roughly a decade ago, the Flyers were often the team that stood in New Jersey’s way. The Bruins, on the other hand, were rarely heard from. Boston is dealing with a much bigger burden in this series, a weight that has been four decades in the making but was increased by last year’s spectacular collapse.

This year, will Boston flinch as a result of what happened 12 months ago, or will the Bruins chase their ghosts away with a redemptive victory? Will Boston begin to deliver on its promise and get the kind of play it knows it can receive from goalie Tim Thomas, or will the Flyers – with their patchwork goalie-by-committee rotation – cobble together enough clutch plays to leave the Bs fuming once more?

Philadelphia is the defending East champion, but all eyes are on Boston as this series begins. If the Bruins can’t win the battle inside their own heads, there’s no way they’ll take down the Flyers in the coming weeks.

 

 

By: Matt Zemek
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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