A year ago, we were in the same boat to the day- Friday night, Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semi-final series between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers.
The big difference was that the game was played in Philly and not Boston, which is where the action is tonight.
Much ink has been dedicated to breaking down the reasons why the Bruins will not repeat the epic choke of last season. We won't go as far, because much of the ground has been covered already.
365 days later, they're much healthier than they were (losing two critical forwards in one game- David Krejci and Marco Sturm- and this in a season that they scored the fewest goals in the NHL), Tim Thomas is back to his Vezina Trophy form, and not only do the Flyers not have Chris Pronger, who appears to be out indefinitely but they don't have goaltending going for them either.
We expect rookie Sergei Bobrovsky to be in net for them, and the kid was a revelation, but he spent too much time in the press box after losing Game 1 of the Buffalo series. In his limited action, he's looked shaky and out of sorts. He has yet to face the full might of the Boston attack, as in each situation, they've had big leads and dialed back the pressure.
No, even if Philly wins this one, they aren't going to take four in a row with Thomas between the pipes. Boston's veteran is serving as exhibit A for why goaltending gets you far in the playoffs. It isn't even close between him and whomever the Flyers could put out there The way Philly's netminders have performed this season would make people nostalgic for Andre Racicot. And for those of you younger fans unfamiliar with him, Racicot's nickname was well earned: "Red Light"
With apologies to Miss Shirley Bassey, history is not repeating.
Not this year.