BOSTON – It would’ve been hard to believe in the immediate aftermath of last spring’s Bruins playoff collapse against Philadelphia, but the experiences of that wild seven-game conference semifinal series might’ve benefited both clubs.
As they prepared for their first TD Garden match-up of this season some seven months removed from the Flyers completing their comeback from 3-0 down in the series and 3-0 down in Game 7 on the same ice surface, players for both clubs talked about how the lessons from that series have stayed with them during the new campaign.
“If we’re up a goal or two or three, you never want to back off because they can come back, just like they did in Game 7. So it’s kind of like that,” said Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk after the morning skate in preparation for the Flyers game.
Just like the Bruins, the Flyers have mostly the same personnel back this season with just a few tweaks to the roster. And the Flyers have also imitated the Bruins by getting off to a hot start at 18-7-5 (with one of those losses at the hands of the now 16-8-3 Bruins, 3-0). The Flyers are just ahead of the Bruins in 5-on-5 goals for/goals against ratio, which proves they have firepower and confidence.
Some of that confidence stems from picking themselves up off the mat in that Boston series.
“I think just from the whole playoff experience, we gained a lot of confidence from it,” said forward Blair Betts. “From specifically the Boston series, we know that there’s always hope. Whether you’re down three games to none, we proved that it can be done.”
While the Bruins are 0-5-2 this season when trailing after one period, the Flyers are 4-4-3 after falling behind in the first 20 minutes. The Bruins have a better point percentage than the Flyers as far as third-period comebacks, but that just speaks to how that series changed both clubs’ mindsets when it comes to rallying from behind and responding to being backed up against a wall.
“I think we’ve seen a good amount of our games this year where we’ve gone into the third period or things haven’t gotten tough, and we’ve responded well,” said Flyers defenseman Matt Carle. “So you see some instances where it carries over like that. It definitely helps to build camaraderie.”
To Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference, however, the impact of last season’s Flyers series is making only a slight impact on this season. We won’t know if the Bruins fully learned their lesson until spring.
“I think the regular season is a different beast. So you go through the regular season and I think we have a lot more consistency than we did last year during the regular season. It felt like we couldn’t string anything together last year and it was really topsy-turvy. So from that standpoint … but the true test is playoffs. That’s all anyone cares about. So you learn that when you cross that bridge, but you have to get there first.”