-- The Philadelphia Flyers
remain steadfast in their notion that the effort they're putting forth in the Eastern Conference Semifinals is no different than the uphill climb they negotiated to even qualify for the second season.
While that may be true, perhaps they need to look at the facts. They're one win from accomplishing something only three other professional sports teams ever have done -- win a best-of-seven series after trailing 3-0. The Flyers have a chance to join the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs
, the '75 New York Islanders
and the 2004 Boston Red Sox on Friday when puck drops for Game 7 at TD Garden (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, RDS, CSH-PH).
"Everybody knows that if you blow a 3-0 lead and take it to Game 7, you don't want to lose it," Flyers forward Danny Briere
said. "I think they have more pressure, but we certainly have pressure, too. We want to get it done and possibly make history -- we've seen the commercials going on with the NHL and this is our chance to do it."
Coach Peter Laviolette
said nothing to discount his beliefs that this game is no different than any other big game the team has been in this season.
"I haven't thought about (history) too much," Laviolette said. "There's a lot of work that's been done. They played hard to get to this point and the end game for me is still that big, silver, shiny thing, so what happens along the way in that ride would be great. I think any time you can attach a name as a group to something in sports history, it's a positive thing. But, for me, I sure would like to be one of those final four teams."
The Flyers are on the verge of history while exhibiting a tremendous amount of resiliency despite all the injuries they've dealt with. In 11 postseason games, the Flyers have seen eight players either return to the locker room for repair and miss significant playing time, or call it a night altogether.
In the opening round, it was Jeff Carter
, Simon Gagne
and Ian Laperriere
. Against the Bruins, it has been Brian Boucher
, Daniel Carcillo
, Claude Giroux
, Scott Hartnell
and Blair Betts
Yet nothing seems to faze this group of wounded warriors.
"It's certainly not a path that you would like to choose; you'd rather have done things differently through the course of the year and then the playoffs," Laviolette said. "You know we find ourselves down 3-0 in the series, and the players deserve a tremendous amount of credit because they won't quit. Every time they are pushed, they push back. They are a very resilient group out there and just won't quit, they won't go away, and it's become a strength of ours.
"I think based on things that have happened throughout the year, down the stretch and through the first round, the adversity that we've faced … I feel like we are conditioned to it now."
Laviolette admits he's never coached a team that's suffered through such adverse conditions as this year's Flyers.
"This team's been through a lot, and every time we get thrown something, we just take it in stride and continue to push," he said. "You know, they just seem to respond to any type of adverse circumstance, whether it's the season or schedule or injury or a goaltender. Circumstance like (being down) 0-3. Our guys continue to push back. They won't go away."
The Bruins attempted 79 shots Wednesday and the Flyers blocked 30 of them; defenseman Matt Carle
leading the way with six, while fellow blue liners Braydon Coburn
and Kimmo Timonen
had four apiece. It was another collective effort from a team that's now 27-33 all-time when facing elimination.
"We have a lot of guys in this room who care," Coburn said, "guys that want to keep playing and guys that really trust each other and the system. When your back is against the wall, those are things you can fall back on and we have some great character guys in this room."
The Flyers are the sixth team in League history to force a seventh game in a series they trailed 3-0. All bets are off come Friday, as four of the six games between these clubs have been decided by one goal, while the Flyers hold an 18-17 edge in goals scored -- it's that close.
So who should be favored?
"The team that brings out their identity best," Laviolette said. "I think our identity, as you have seen all season, is an aggressive approach. The team that skates the best and is willing to make plays and not panic, not get nervous but actually plays the game, has the best chance."
Briere feels the Flyers successfully have rallied by taking it one game at a time.
"The one thing I like is that we never looked at the big picture," Briere said. "We took it one game at a time. It was tough (in Game 6), coming off an emotional high (of Game 5) and they were embarrassed in their building. It was tough to keep that level of energy we came out with in the first 10 minutes of the game. I didn't feel we played our best game (in Game 6), but we got some breaks. Now it's the toughest one to win, the last one to clinch."
Contact Mike Morreale at firstname.lastname@example.org