Boucher/By S. Bradley

Philadelphia goaltender Brian Boucher was asked yesterday if he’s the Rodney Dangerfield of hockey.

“Yeah I guess if you want to say that, you can say that,” said the veteran.

The only problem is, Dangerfield’s lack of respect jokes were just that, jokes. Boucher hasn’t always earned the right be called a starting goaltender.

In Philadelphia’s first-round victory over Buffalo, Boucher finished with all four wins, a .934 save percentage and a 2.10 goals-against average. He was solid enough to earn the Flyers a berth in the Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Bruins that opens today at the Wells Fargo Center.

But it’s hard to forget that he was pulled in the Flyers’ Game 5 loss, which put them down 3-2 in the series. In that game, he allowed three goals on the first 18 shots.

That blip on the radar, as well as the 3.11 GAA and .891 save percentage he posted against a weaker Boston offense in last year’s postseason match-up — not to mention other struggles he’s had along the way in his roller-coaster career — are the reason the one edge every expert is giving to the Bruins for the Eastern Conference semifinal series that starts this afternoon is in goal with Tim Thomas.

“Yeah it’s fine with me. I think in just about every series that I have played in my career I have probably been the underdog in it,” said Boucher. “The other goalies probably got the edge and that’s fine. We have a good hockey team in here. I believe in my teammates. When push comes to shove we can score goals and keep it out of our net from a team stand point. That’s all I’m concerned about.”

Like most goaltenders, Boucher doesn’t think about his showdown with the goaltender at the other end of the rink. That approach helped him get the best of Olympian Ryan Miller last round and future Hall-of-Famer Martin Brodeur in last spring’s first round.

Thomas should be a similarly formidable foe, as he set the single-season record for save percentage and in four games against the Flyers in the regular season he posted a 1.96 GAA and .942 save percentage.

However, that’s not going to change Boucher’s mindset now.

“I don’t really focus on that too much, to be honest with you. There are a lot of good goalies in this league,” he said. “It’s a challenge every night to beat these guys. They have a good team. Tim Thomas is a great goalie who had a great year. It’s going to be a good challenge. Hopefully, we can keep the ball rolling.”