Trading places not a fun swap
O’Donnell eyes possibilities lost
There would be no miracles this time.
There would be no repeat of last spring when the Flyers defied the odds by battling out of a 3-0 deficit to beat the Bruins in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Instead, the Bruins exacted their revenge, closing out Philadelphia last night with a 5-1 victory at TD Garden to conclude a four-game sweep.
This season, it was the Flyers who were missing key personnel — mammoth defenseman Chris Pronger the most missed of all — and some of those who did suit up — forward Jeff Carter in particular — weren’t close to 100 percent.
Now it’s the Flyers turn to go home and wonder what might have been.
“I’m not going to say the better team won, but the team that was playing better is moving on,’’ said veteran defenseman Sean O’Donnell. “They’re hitting on all cylinders right now. We put a good effort [in Game 4], but it seems we’re not hitting on all cylinders. When we did get a chance, [the puck] was jumping over a stick or they were getting a stick in the lane.
“I’m not taking anything away, they deserved the series, but it just seemed like we were a little bit off and they’re playing real well.’’
The Flyers had to play from behind in their first series against the Sabres and had to play from behind during this one, too. In the end, it might have been a matter of having to go to the well one too many times.
The Bruins took a 1-0 lead last night on Milan Lucic’s power-play goal at 12:02 of the opening period, a frame in which the Flyers had just six shots to 13 for the Bruins.
Kris Versteeg pulled Philadelphia even at 13:22 of the second period, but then it was all the Bruins from that point on.
There wasn’t enough left in the tank for the Flyers to rally.
“We moved on from the Buffalo series and series are never easy,’’ said O’Donnell. “We were shut out in two of those games. I know the goaltending was a big issue that people are always asking about. We put ourselves behind the eight ball.
“It seems like sometimes this team enjoyed getting our backs to the wall and then kind of responding and I think it took a little bit more out of us in the first round than maybe it should have, and then we got behind the eight-ball with Boston.’’
If he could find a turning point in the series, O’Donnell said it was dropping Game 2 after being up by two goals, then coming out flat-footed in Game 3.
“Game 2 could’ve gone either way,’’ said O’Donnell. “Obviously, it would’ve been nice coming to Boston at 1-1.
“If we take Game 3, we kind of put them on their heels a bit for Game 4. But we really put ourselves behind the eight-ball with that start in the first minute of that game and the way we played subsequently. We seemed like we were playing from behind.’’
And last night, the Flyers’ goaltending wasn’t the culprit. Unlike Brian Boucher, who struggled for much of the series, Sergei Bobrovsky gave his team a chance to win. The Flyers just couldn’t score.
“I thought Bobrovsky played really well,’’ said O’Donnell. “He made some big saves on the [penalty kill]. We took a lot of penalties early on and he was real big in the net.
“A lot of pucks were hitting him and you can’t fault him tonight.’’
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at email@example.com.