Hockey Night in Canada


Flyers' Boucher was never a Bruins fan

Philadelphia Flyers goalie Brian Boucher said on Friday that facing the Boston Bruins has no special personal significance for him, despite growing up in New England.

Philadelphia Flyers goalie Brian Boucher said on Friday that facing the Boston Bruins has no special personal significance for him, despite growing up in New England.

Born in Woonsocket, R.I., Boucher somehow endured the wrath of cheering on the Montreal Canadiens while growing up, taking inspiration from Patrick Roy's spectacular play.

Boucher made the comments on a media conference call, one day before the Eastern Conference semifinal series begins in Boston on Saturday afternoon. The matchup pairs the sixth and seventh seeds, guaranteeing that one underdog team will make the conference final.

Boucher holds the Bruins in high regard and always has. He predicted a tough, physical series between the clubs, and knows how savvy former teammate Mark Recchi can be.

"He has a knack for the net," said Boucher. "He scores timely goals. He's done that in the first round. He's going to be a guy we have to pay particular interest in making sure he doesn't get those chances."

As well, don't think the series itself isn't meaningful on a personal basis.

Boucher's long road back to being in the NHL spotlight has been well-documented. He won his first playoff game in 10 years in the first round, the last coming as a rookie in his first stint with Philadelphia in 1999-00 when the Flyers fell one game short of the Stanley Cup final.

Boucher, only the starter after injuries to Ray Emery and Michael Leighton, hadn't seen any meaningful minutes in the NHL playoffs in eight years since this spring.

Since then, there's been an eye-popping high, some big lows, and lot of plugging along as is the case in the life of a borderline NHL starter.

The 33-year-old said the low point was an 18-month stretch from the beginning of the 2006-07 season. He started with the Chicago Blackhawks and finished with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"I ended up having to get shoulder surgery with four games left in the regular season in Columbus, spent the off-season rehabbing a shoulder injury," said Boucher. "Then the following year I ended up starting the year in the minors playing for the Phantoms here in Philadelphia [in the AHL]."

"I think I won one game in Chicago and I won [two games] in Columbus in like 18 games," he added. "It was a pretty tough year."

Long layoff for Flyers

The Flyers have enjoyed the longest layoff of any team between the first and second rounds, ironic considering they earned a playoff spot only on the last day of the season.

Whether their momentum took a hit from the extended break is to be seen, but with extensive experience in his career as a backup, Boucher put a positive spin on the situation.

"This is something I've been accustomed to, having time off, having to stay sharp in practice," he said. "Obviously, goalies will tell you that you like to be playing and stay in a groove. There's no question about that. I think the time off was much needed for us."

The Flyers knocked off the No. 2 seed New Jersey Devils in five games, but they paid a price. Forwards Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne and Ian Lapperiere could all be unavailable for the Bruins series due to injuries.

Boucher was a wonder in the first round, outplaying future Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur and boasting a .940 save percentage.

The Bruins can't afford to assume Boucher will have a letdown. After all, this is the goaltender who set the modern-day shutout record while with Phoenix in early 2004, not allowing a goal in a stretch that lasted just over 5½ games.

Boucher certainly isn't paying any mind to the fact Boston was at the bottom of the league in goals scored this season.

"I think they've played really good hockey in the latter half of March and into April," he said. "They've found ways to win."

Game 2 will take place in Boston on Monday night, with the scene shifting to Philadelphia two nights later.