Get this: there's a goaltending controversy in Philadelphia. Go figure that this time of year, right?
Maybe controversy isn't the right word, since it implies one goalie might be well-favored over another to start for the Flyers right now in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The word is more likely dilemma, defined as a choice between two undesirable alternatives.
Goaltender -- defined in Philadelphia as the "afterthought position" on its teams for seemingly forever -- is once again the main problem for the Flyers as spring blooms. It certainly was in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena, where the Boston Bruins skated to an easy 7-3 victory.
Boston forward David Krejci scored two goals and assisted on two others as the Bruins chased Flyers starter Brian Boucher after five goals on 23 shots, setting up a decision for coach Peter Laviolette whom to go with in Game 2. Sergei Bobrovsky, the Flyers' starter most of the regular season and at the start of the playoffs, may have his chance to reclaim the top spot.
Saying it was all just bad goaltending would be a disservice to the kind of effort Boston put forth. The Bruins moved the puck with speed and precision through most of the game, and did all the extra-effort things better than Philly, like blocking shots and chipping pucks out.
Then again, Boucher wasn't very good at all. That was especially true with his rebound control, including on second-chance goals allowed to Boston's Nathan Horton (which gave the Bruins the lead for good at 2-1 with 36 seconds left in the first) and the ageless Mark Recchi (at 2:33 of the second, making it 3-1).
When pesky Bruins winger Brad Marchand put home another juicy rebound at 17:14 of the second to make it 5-1, Boucher yielded the net to Bobrovsky. The Bruins essentially went into sit-back mode from there, and it almost cost them.
Boston started playing absent-minded, penalty-prone hockey and when Mike Richards beat Thomas just after the first of a two-man disadvantage expired with 6:58 left, it was still a game.
Until, that is, Marchand beat Bobrovsky with a short-side shot at 14:59, after Patrice Bergeron forced a turnover from Philly defenseman Matt Carle.
Laviolette probably won't win any coach-of-the-year honors from some of his decision-making in this one either. For instance, against Boston's top line to start the second period, he matched it up with his fourth line, promptly leading to Recchi's killer goal. Flyers fourth-liners Blair Betts and Darroll Powe were a combined minus-6.
Flyers veteran D-man Chris Pronger, clearly still hampered by a broken right hand, suffered through a minus-3 day himself.
Marchand and Krejci symbolized Boston's victory over Philadelphia not just on the scoreboard, but in the aggression department.
For Krejci, some revenge on the Flyers was nearly a year in coming.
Everything was going great for him and the Bruins in Philly around this time last year, until Krejci saw his season come to an end from a dislocated wrist after a hit from Richards.
Four games later, the Bruins minus-Krejci had blown a 3-0 series lead for only the third time in NHL history.
Don't count on Boston getting big-headed at any point in this series, therefore. As Bruins tough guy Shawn Thornton pointed out before the series to the media assembled around his locker, "you guys only remind us of it every second of every day."