Pittsburgh at Philadelphia, Eastern Conference quarterfinal, Game Three, 3:00 p.m. EDT
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Flyers’ playoff predicament is a
cruelly familiar one.
Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the Pittsburgh Penguins lead
Philadelphia 2-0 in this playoff series — just like last year
in the Eastern Conference finals. This year’s quarterfinals
shifts on Sunday back to Philadelphia for Game 3 with the Flyers
looking to make this a competitive series — again, like last
At this pace, the Flyers are looking at a repeat scenario with a
The Flyers lost Game 3 at home with the series basically on the
line in the conference finals last season, so there’s no
guarantee a return to the raucous atmosphere those
orange-and-black diehards add to every game will mean much other
than a rocking arena.
“Our minds are in a lot better place than we were last year,”
Flyers center Danny Briere said on Saturday. “We’re feeling a
lot better. I thought we should be talking about a 1-1 series.
We win one game and we’re right back there.”
History is against the Flyers.
They have won only two best-of-seven series when trailing 0-2:
Philadelphia won four straight after dropping the first two to
Toronto in the 1977 quarterfinals and did the same thing to the
Penguins in the 2000 Eastern Conference semifinals. All 17 NHL
teams that have jumped out to a 2-0 lead in each of the last two
postseasons have gone on to win the series.
The Flyers tossed those omens under the Zamboni.
“We’re coming back to our building thinking this is our game to
have,” Flyers goalie Martin Biron said.
It could be if Philadelphia eliminates the pesky penalties and
undisciplined play that have led to the first two losses. The
Flyers were whistled for 34 penalty minutes in Game 1 — not a
total surprise for the NHL’s most-penalized team — then
appeared to keep their sticks in check with only 6 penalty
minutes in regulation of Game 2.
Overtime cost them big.
Mike Knuble extended his arms, not once, but twice into the back
of Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik and was whistled for
cross-checking. Claud Giroux picked up a slashing penalty only
30 seconds later, giving the Penguins a two-man advantage that
Bill Guerin would cash in with the winning goal.
Knuble, a 12-year veteran, made his second costly mistake in two
games. In the Game 1 loss, he tried banking a pass off the back
wall, but the puck skittered to Malkin and he quickly snapped it
past Biron for a 3-0 lead.
“Two games in a row something stupid happened to me,” Knuble
said. “You feel like you’re single-handedly thwarting your
team’s chances and ruining your team’s chances. You feel one way
the night before, then you feel it again. You’re disgusted.”
Knuble, though, wondered if the cross-checking call was made to
even things. Referee Bill McCreary had already called one
cross-checking penalty on Penguins defenseman Hal Gill in OT, so
officials were looking for a Philadelphia infraction.
“I can be as mad as I want about the call and feel it’s unjust,
but the fact is, I gave him the opportunity and that’s the
mistake,” Knuble said.
Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen questioned if the officials are
treating his team the same as the Penguins.
“What I noticed was, I didn’t see the refs yelling at their
bench at all. Not one time,” Timonen said. “I could see them
coming over to our bench a few times. It makes you always wonder
Timonen said the Flyers deserved the same respect from the refs
as he feels they gave Pittsburgh.
“You see these guys going to the refs and talking to them, and
it looks like (the refs) talk to them back,” Timonen said. “We
go talk to them and they yell at us. It’s a little bit of a
difference. It’s not something we can control.”
Flyers coach John Stevens hoped the players like captain Mike
Richards, Timonen and Simon Gagne were respected enough by the
officials that they would at least earn the chance to explain
their gripes and grievances.
Crosby, who has a goal and two points, liked how the Penguins
scored twice on the power play in Game 2.
“I don’t think either team took any stupid penalties, but when
you get opportunities on the power play in the playoffs, they’re
big chances and you have to take advantage of them,” he said.
The Flyers need more than the open ears of the officials to beat
the Penguins. Jeff Carter, the NHL’s second-leading goal scorer,
has yet to record a point and wasted a few open looks in Game 2.
Briere and Knuble have not recorded a point.
If those scorers get going, and the Flyers can keep pushing
Malkin and Crosby outside, they believe they can get back in
Start slow and have the home crowd start booing, and the
Penguins could make this series an easy repeat.
“They’re pretty loud, like Pittsburgh, so we can’t give them any
reason to get loud,” Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury “It can
turn pretty loud and turn into energy against us. I think we’ve
seen (the crowd turn) sometimes, when we frustrate them and kill
their power plays. If we do things like that, I think we can
turn (the crowd) in our favor.”