Only 14 times in the franchise’s illustrious 45-year history has it happened — and never between these two teams.
That carries a magic all its own, both sides having battled for six-plus games — including overtimes — but settling nothing. When the Flyers and their goalie du jour, Brian Boucher, take on the Sabres tonight, it will finally reach its fitting conclusion.
Essentially they’ve played six one-goal games, not counting an open-net goal in Game 3. So, why expect anything different?
“These are the kind of games you dream about as an athlete,” said wing James van Riemsdyk after yesterday’s practice. “You want to play in games like this, and I think we’re all excited to go out [today].”
For what it’s worth, the Flyers have more players with Game 7 experience than Buffalo. It’s a team that rallied from 3-0 down to win in Boston last year, and pulled out its 2008 opening-round series in Washington in overtime.
“It’s nice to have that experience,” said Mike Richards. “At the same time, no matter if it’s your first [Game 7] or your 10th, you still get a little bit nervous for the game and excited to get it going.”
While the Flyers figure to have Chris Pronger — at least on the power play — they know nothing will come easy. The Sabres have already won here twice and could be bolstered by the return of center Derek Roy. Plus, they still have the best goaltender in the building, Ryan Miller.
“We’ve lost a couple at home already,” said Danny Briere, the series’ leading goal-scorer with five. “But we played all year to try to get home-ice advantage in case we get to Game 7 for as many series as we can. This is our first chance.”
He said, she said
Even though Mike Richards won’t be suspended for an iffy hit on Tim Connolly (he’s out for Game 7) in Game 6, the Flyers captain might be a marked man in today’s rubber match.
“The guy who was complaining the most about how we were getting away with murder has delivered two of the dirtiest hits in the series,” said Sabres goalie Ryan Miller. “It wasn’t just a hit … it was a push. It was blatant.”