Brian Boucher has started one other Game 7 in his NHL career -- the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils. He stopped 16 of 18 shots that night in a 2-1 loss.
Back then, Boucher was a 23-year-old rookie getting his first taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. When he starts Game 7, he'll be a grizzled 34-year-old in his third stint with the Flyers in an NHL journey that's taken him to Phoenix, Calgary, Chicago, Columbus and San Jose, with a couple stops in the American Hockey League included.
"I think what's changed is the fact that there's a lot of years in between then and now," he told reporters Monday. "There's a lot of experience gained. I feel like I'm a better goalie today than I was back then. The fact that I was fresh-faced and had a lot of energy and a lot of spunk, I think that was what carried me at that time. Now I feel like I'm a smarter goaltender. I've learned a lot. Maybe that'll help out."
One of the things he's learned is to laugh off some of the things that come up in the media at playoff time. Like, how the Buffalo News called the Flyers' three starting goalies in the series -- Boucher, Sergei Bobrovsky and Michael Leighton -- the Three Stooges.
When Boucher was asked which his favorite Stooge was, he just laughed.
"That's pretty funny," he said. "Which was the bald-headed one? Curly, that's the guy. Maybe I'll be Curly."
Boucher said the benefit of age also has helped him be able to take his mind off the game.
"For me it's pretty easy," he said. "I've got a family at home and you can't ignore your duties as a father or as a husband. When I get home, it's life as usual. For me, it's easy to (get away from the game). For guys that are single or on their own, it might be more difficult. We've got baseball practice today at 5 p.m. for my son. It's a beautiful day so far, go catch some sunshine."
In five games in this series (three starts, two relief appearances), Boucher is 3-1 with a 2.12 goals-against average and .935 save percentage, both of which rank fifth among all playoff goalies.
"There's a tremendous amount of confidence in Brian Boucher, there's no question about that," coach Peter Laviolette said Tuesday morning.
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