I absolutely LOVE a good comeback story! It’s one of the reasons sports is eternally engaging. And I’m not talking about a Guy-Lafleur-still-smokin’-two- packs-a-day kind of comeback. That was ridiculous. We all should have been able to remember “The Flower” as nothing but a Montreal Canadiens’ superstar. Bad, Guy. Bad.
This year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs features one of the NHL’s best comeback stories in a while.
When Philadelphia Flyers’ netminder Brian Boucher defeated Martin Brodeur’s New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night, it marked Boucher’s first Stanley Cup Playoff win in ten years. Bill Clinton was President of the United States. On May 20, 2000, Boucher’s Philadelphia Flyers defeated Martin Brodeur’s New Jersey Devils, 3-1. Wow…it’s the lost decade. At that point in their Eastern Conference Final, the Devils came back to win three in a row and advance to the Stanley Cup Final, where New Jersey would defeat the Dallas Stars (thanks to Jason Arnott’s G6 overtime winner).
That season was Brian Boucher’s first as an NHLer, and he was named to the league’s All-Rookie Team. But, after three seasons in Philly, the Woonsocket, Rhode Island native was shipped to the Phoenix Coyotes. In Phoenix, he actually broke the NHL’s modern-day, shutout streak record – 332 minutes and one second – encompassing five straight shutouts. But those Phoenix teams stunk. No playoffs for Boucher. Then he was shipped to Calgary, Chicago, Columbus and San Jose before signing with the Flyers on July 1, 2009.
Boucher only began the playoffs in the Flyers’ net because of injuries to both Ray Emery (hip) and Michael Leighton (ankle). Boucher had been the Flyers’ first-round draft choice from the Tri-City Americans in 1995. His career is definitely not ending with the promise with which it started. Ten years between playoff wins got me thinking…has any other netminder done that? Gone ten years between playoff victories?
I started digging…I could only fine one. One – in the history of the NHL. That would be Sean Burke. In 1988, Burke won nine Stanley Cup games for Jim Schoenfeld’s “Have-another-doughnut-you-fat-pig” Devils. Then, not until 1998, did Burke win another in the playoffs. It was for the Flyers.
So, clearly, I’m cheering for Brian Boucher to succeed. He’s gone ten years between winning games that mattered. Keep ‘er going, Brian.