PHILADELPHIA -- At the beginning of the 2010-11 season, anyone who suggested Brian Boucher might hold the key to the Stanley Cup hopes of the Philadelphia Flyers likely would have been considered as cracked as the Liberty Bell.
But after emerging from the Flyers goalie carousel to post all four victories in the first-round elimination of the Buffalo Sabres, Boucher has become exactly that.
Aside from his odorous Game 5 performance, in which he allowed two goals from near or behind the goal line, Boucher clearly was the steadiest of the three Flyer goalies, a group that also includes rookie Sergei Bobrovsky and 2010 playoff stud Michael Leighton. He saved his best for last, backstopping the Flyers to a 5-2 win over the Sabres in Game 7.
Eleven years earlier, in his only other Game 7 start, Boucher and the Flyers dropped a 2-1 decision to the New Jersey Devils, the game in which Scott Stevens laid out Eric Lindros.
"In between then and now, I've gained a lot of experience," he said. "I really believe I'm a better goalie now."
If the Flyers want to make a second consecutive appearance in the Stanley Cup final, he'll have to be.