PHILADELPHIA - The goaltending carousel in Philadelphia keeps going round and round.
In what might be considered Brian Boucher's roughest outing in his five starts this postseason, the 34-year-old yielded five goals on 23 shots before finally getting the hook with 2:46 remaining in the second period of Game 1 against Boston.
Saturday's 7-3 loss in the opener of the Eastern Conference semifinals marked the fourth in-game goalie change coach Peter Laviolette has been forced to make in the Flyers’ eight playoff games this spring.
How bad was it?
"I let in so many, I can't remember the third one … I can't recall right now," a somber Boucher said after the game.
"There were a lot of rebounds," he continued. "You know what I mean, it was a save and then a rebound. The fourth goal (by David Krejci), I didn't really see it. I don't even know if it was going wide or if it was tipped. That's the way it goes sometimes. Some nights it hits you and some nights it doesn't. You just got to keep plugging away."
Boucher's replacement was rookie Sergei Bobrovsky, who allowed two third-period goals on 10 shots. It was Bobrovsky’s first action since Game 2 against Buffalo, when he was replaced by … Boucher.
"Certainly you don't want to (make a goalie change) but tonight, I think, that just based on the way we played in front of our goaltender, we as a team deserve all of the responsibility as far as that goes," Laviolette said. "But it certainly is not where you want to be."
Boucher was asked if the recent goalie switch was more upsetting than the previous ones.
"It's always a wakeup call for the team," he said. "You always seem to get a bit of a boost after there's a goalie change. I think that's why coaches are so apt to do that. That seems to be one of the last things they can do, as opposed to yelling at the guys or calling a timeout. You want to keep your timeout, so maybe you make a goalie change to change things up. That's the way things go."
Boucher was coming off a solid 26-save performance in a 5-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres in the seventh and deciding game of his team's conference quarterfinal series. It seemed as though the three days of rest did more harm than good, however, as Boucher had trouble locating the puck and getting set.
"On the fourth one (by Krejci), there was some traffic and I believe it got tipped by somebody," Boucher explained. "I don't know if it was their guy or our guy. But the others … I'm trying to think. The second one (by Nathan Horton) was a rebound goal and I saw it. There was a tip on the fifth goal (by Brad Marchand) … I made a save, and then a rebound.
"I mean, you'd like them to bury it back in your pads maybe, that'd be nice," he added. "But it didn't happen. That's just the way it goes. Like I said, you have to move on and get ready for Game 2."
Still, while Boucher would be the first to take the blame, the Flyers certainly didn't exhibit the same vigor and desperation they showcased in the final two games against Buffalo in rallying from a 3-2 series deficit. The Bruins has relatively easy access to the front of the net on most of their opportunities and cashed in.
"I don't think any of us played particularly well," Boucher said. "There were some plays where I was able to make the first save, but not able to make the second one. As a goaltender, I'm responsible for stopping the puck and when they get by me, I take responsibility. So I'll look at the video and see where we go from there.
"But it's one game and I don't think it's anything to get too frustrated over from a team standpoint. It wasn't our best effort and that's just the way it goes."
The Flyers continue to say all the right things in defense of their goaltenders, but the fact of the matter is the inconsistencies seen collectively as a group, on defense, may turn out to be their demise when all is said and done.
"We could've been better as a group," captain Mike Richards said. "Defense is played by five guys on the ice and a goaltender. We left our goaltender hanging tonight. Forwards didn't come down and cover their men. We could've been better as a five-man unit on the defensive end."
Meanwhile, Bobrovsky's appearance was his first since April 16, when he was replaced by Boucher after yielding three goals on seven shots at 12:30 of the first period in a 5-4 Flyers victory. He entered the contest 0-1 with a 3.38 goals-against average and. 875 save percentage in two games.
Boucher, who is now 4-2 with a 2.80 goals-against average and .914 save percentage in seven playoff appearances, hopes he'll get the nod as the starter for Game 2.
"I do," Boucher said. "It wasn't a good afternoon all around for all of us. We didn't get any breaks and we certainly didn't play all that well. At the same time, I don't see the need for a change, but we'll see what happens."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale