Here’s the hit on Umberger. Just devastating.
Umberger rallying; can the Flyers?
The hotel lobby was quiet and dark. A large floral arrangement against a rear wall set a backdrop for what easily could have been a funeral parlor.
A guy in a dark suit, standing with his hands folded in his lap, was all that was missing.
R.J. Umberger was sitting by himself on a low wall in front of the collection of flowers, sending text messages. Anyone who saw the hit he took Saturday night in the first overtime of the Flyers’ playoff-opening, 3-2, double-overtime loss to Buffalo, the one where Brian Campbell stepped up and caught Umberger with his head down, would have found the scene appropriate.
Especially if Umberger was laid out in front of the flowers.
But despite what it looked like Saturday night, despite the television replay constantly being shown, the one with the close-up of Umberger getting nailed and lying on his back, eyes rolling up into his head, he was very much alive yesterday morning.
In fact, he said he was hoping to play in Game 2 tonight at HSBC Arena.
The most important, most calming piece of information that any hockey team can ever receive was bestowed on the Flyers in the 3-2 loss. It is what will lead them through the thicket of tonight’s rematch in Buffalo and light their way when the series shifts to the Wachovia Center on Wednesday.
They have the hot goaltender.
Nothing can do more for a team’s confidence – not to mention its won-lost record.
Robert Esche, the temperamental tender whose emotions are as sharp as his stick hand, had a career night in the opener. In fact, it might have been a career-defining night. It wasn’t just the sheer bulk of 55 saves, although that is a difficult number to ignore. It was the way he amassed the total.
The Flyersâ€™ response to losing Game 1 in double OT is key. The team is guarding against a letdown.
Nothing is more emotionally draining in hockey than a playoff loss in more than one overtime. The longer the game goes, the more teams expect a rewarding outcome. When that doesn’t occur, it can be devastating.
A goal by the Buffalo Sabres’ Daniel Briere stunned the Flyers in double overtime Saturday in Game 1 of the NHL’s Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Many of the Flyers felt that goalie Robert Esche should have been rewarded for his 55 saves. He was not.
Now the question is: How will the Flyers react?