Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Brian Boucher says NHL officials are doing a good job of protecting goalies during the playoffs.
Forwards crashing the crease and pileups involving goaltenders are part of the playoffs. The Washington Capitals had a goal disallowed due to goaltender interference in their 2-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens in Game 7 of their first-round series
The Vancouver Canucks are already sounding alarms that Chicago’s Dustin Byfuglien will be bumping into goaltender Roberto Luongo during their Western Conference semifinal series which begins Saturday.
Boucher, who backstopped the Flyers to an upset five-game victory over the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference quarter-final, has no complaints with what referees are doing to keep the crease clean.
“I think they are doing the best they can,” Boucher said Friday during a conference call. “Obviously you are going to miss calls from time to time.
“Sometimes if you have a chat with them (referees) and let them know about a player … I hear officials all the time yelling at the players in front of the net to watch the crease. I think they are doing a good job of reminding players that blue paint is ours and they can’t interfere.”
Luongo told reporters in Vancouver he was warned by a referee during the Canucks’ first-round series against Los Angeles not to dive or try to embellish contact.
Boucher was asked if he’s received any similar warnings.
“I have not, no,” he said.
The Flyers begin their conference semifinal against the Bruins on Saturday in Boston. Philadelphia hasn’t played since April 22, but Boucher doesn’t think the time off will hurt the Flyers.
“The coaches have kept practices high tempo,” he said. “We had some lengthy practices and practices with conditioning in there.
“They’ve done their job as far as keeping us ready physically. Mentally, it’s just a matter of us being sure we are ready to go. It’s not one of those situations where you want to ease into the series. You have to snap right back into it.”
Boucher heads into the second round as one of the hottest goaltenders in the playoffs. He leads all goalies with a 1.59 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage. He’s also played over nine periods without allowing an even-strength goal.
Being sharp in the second round shouldn’t be a problem, he said.
“I liken it to when you are a backup and you go a week or two between starts and have to stay sharp in practice,” Boucher said. “I don’t think it will be that much of a negative effect.
“Long-term, the positives (of a break) outweigh the negatives. You don’t want to be going seven-game series all the way through. Those are stressful minutes, stressful games. If we can keep playing . . . I think it will be good for us.”
Boston finished sixth in the Eastern Conference with 91 points, just three more than seventh-place Philadelphia. The Bruins were the lowest-scoring team in the East with just 206 goals, 30 fewer than the Flyers.
But Boucher isn’t expecting any easy nights against the Bruins.
“They played really good hockey in the latter part of March and into April,” he said. “They found ways to win.
“I don’t buy into that (theory) they have trouble scoring goals. I think we are going to have our hands full as far as shutting them down. They have a good lineup. Their top three lines are very solid. It’s going to be a tough test for us.”
The fact Boucher is even starting for the Flyers is a surprise.
When the season began he was the backup to Ray Emery. When Emery needed season-ending hip surgery, Boucher was passed over for the No. 1 job five times.
Since breaking into the NHL with the Flyers during the 1999-2000 season, Boucher has played for six teams?and some of his best hockey has come in the playoffs. He has a career playoff record of 15-9 with a 1.97 GAA and .921 save percentage.
The 33-year-old from Woonsocket, R.I., holds the NHL record for the longest consecutive shutout streak. He went 332 minutes, more than five games, without allowing a goal with the Phoenix Coyotes in 2003-04.
He’s probably more famous as being the Phoenix goaltender who allowed Washington’s Alex Ovechkin to score his memorable goal while sliding on the ice.
“Looking back, it was a hell of a goal by him,” Boucher chuckled. “At the time I didn’t realize what had happened. I couldn’t believe the angle he was at when it went in.
“I guess I’m proud to be part of it. My son certainly gets a kick out of looking at it on YouTube.”