Signs point to B's success

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:34 PM ET

BOSTON - The Celtics sport the shamrock as a distinct part of their logo, but it’s the Bruins whom fortune is smiling upon these days.

Not to suggest that luck is the only reason the B’s lead Philadelphia 2-0 in this Eastern Conference semifinal, or that Flyers coach Peter Laviolette won’t somehow orchestrate the perfect storm as he did with the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes. This series now shifts to Wachovia Center, where the Flyers were even tougher than the Bruins were at TD Garden this season, earning 51 of their 88 points.

But the Bruins are getting close to the halfway mark of an improbable spring run where everything seems to tip in their favour at critical junctures:

n While everyone else in the league who has played at least three home playoff dates lost at least one, Boston is 5-0. True, Philly didn’t lose its two tilts at Wachovia against New Jersey, but if Boston takes even one there Wednesday or Friday, they aren’t likely to squander the opportunity as Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals did.

n Injuries, the curse of good Boston teams since Bobby Orr was grounded, are still overshadowing the team, as key defenceman Mark Stuart and Dennis Seidenberg went down in early April and Marco Sturm was lost for the season after Game 2 against the Flyers. This year, however, the hurt is being felt by the opposition at inopportune moments.

Sniper Thomas Vanek’s exit in the first round was a blow to the favoured Buffalo Sabres, while Flyers Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne and Ian Laperriere sacrificed themselves in the noble cause against Jersey and thus aren’t on the radar. Yet Marc Savard made a dramatic comeback for Boston from a Grade 2 concussion to score the

Game 1 overtime winner, and Stuart might not be far behind him. And the day after losing Sturm, Milan Lucic hit the mesh for the first time in the playoffs.

n No team goes far in spring without the holy trinity of clutch scoring, goaltending and dedicated special teams and Boston isn’t getting any more or less of those compared to seven other surviving teams.

But if you thought the Bruins had horseshoes in their hockey pants for ousting Buffalo when trailing most of the six-game set, consider how they fended off the same constant comebacks from Philly so far. Blowing leads throughout Game 1, they won it on what everyone agreed was a Hail Mary shot by Savard, who is usually noted for passing. On Monday, Lucic wasn’t even pointed at the Philly net when David Krejci plopped the puck in the slot and Lucic turned into it full force, like someone under the Boston end of the rink had spun his table hockey rod.

n The salary-cap challenged Flyers have had to get by largely with a set roster. That has meant filling in for the injured forwards from within and not adding depth on defence at the deadline to augment their Fantastic Four of Chris Pronger, Braydon Coburn, Matt Carle and Kimmo Timonen.

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Not that Game 2 was pinned on them, but No.’s 5 and 6, Lukas Krajicek and Ryan Parent, were on defence for the Lucic goal, after Boston had failed to score on two third-period power plays.

Meanwhile, two key Boston goals featured Miroslav Satan, a free agent who signed in January and might end up being general manager Peter Chiarelli’s best move of the year, outside of squeezing three high draft picks from the Leafs for Phil Kessel. Satan now has nine points in seven playoff games and points in five straight.

As brash as players such as Lucic are on the ice, however, the Bruins aren’t about to make premature plans for their first conference final appearance since 1992.

“It’s going to go up another notch for them,” Lucic predicted. “They have a perfect record at home, too. Everyone knows they’ll be fighting for their lines. It’s a great building there, the fans are loud, intense and we expect nothing less.”


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