Flyers look to slow down Penguins

Philadelphia at Pittsburgh, Eastern Conference quarterfinal, Game Two, 7:00 p.m. EDT

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The speed the Pittsburgh Penguins brought at
them shift after shift, period after period, shouldn’t surprise
the Philadelphia Flyers — they’ve see it from Sidney Crosby,
Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal 20 times over the past two

The fatigue and frustration it caused, and maybe the lack of
discipline it provoked? The Flyers didn’t seem prepared for
that, and already they find themselves in a likely must-win
playoff Game 2 against the Penguins.

The Flyers, just as they couldn’t during last season’s one-sided
Eastern Conference finals, didn’t handle anything the confident
and under-control Penguins brought at them during a 4-1
Pittsburgh victory in Game 1 on Wednesday night. The Flyers
retaliated with needless penalties, undisciplined play, a late
sequence of message-sending hits and not much else.

After allowing four goals or more for the fifth time in six
playoff games against the Penguins the last two seasons, the
Flyers appeared leg-weary and slightly discouraged. They also
seemed to be looking for answers in an Eastern Conference
first-round series that could get away from them as fast as
Malkin on a breakaway if they don’t win Friday night in

When an NHL team wins Games 1 and 2, it goes on to win a
best-of-seven series 87.2 percent of the time.

The Flyers know that any playoff series can turn with one good
effort, an unexpected goal, a clean but disruptive hit or a
night when determination trumps talent.

But Pittsburgh keeps beating them the same way over and over —
the Penguins have outscored the Flyers 24-10 in six playoff
games since May — and that must worry a team that is
desperately searching for momentum after going 11-11-1 over the
last six weeks.

“I don’t buy that we’re done by any means,” Flyers general
manager Paul Holmgren said Thursday. “Pittsburgh’s a good team,
and we have to play well to beat them — better than we did. We
need to play a more complete game.”

The Penguins? They want to keep playing the same uptempo,
keep-the-pressure on style that has enabled them to go 19-3-4
under coach Dan Bylsma.

“We’re going to play the way we know how,” said Crosby, who had
a goal and an assist in Game 1. “Hopefully, we’re skating and
they have to chase us. Hopefully, the result of our game is at
least getting scoring chances and then some will go in.”

The Flyers were criticized by coach John Stevens for drawing
numerous unnecessary penalties during a mistake-filled night,
and their breakdowns in discipline were illustrated by forward
Dan Carcillo’s whack to Penguins forward Max Talbot’s head with
7 seconds remaining. On Thursday, the NHL suspended Carcillo for
one game and fined Stevens $10,000. Talbot wasn’t hurt and
Carcillo wasn’t penalized for the hit.

“We held a conference call Monday with the general managers and
coaches of playoff teams and told them explicitly we would not
tolerate attempts by clubs to ‘send a message’ late in a game
when the outcome had been determined,” said Colin Campbell, the
NHL’s senior executive vice president of hockey operations.
“Organizations — players and coaches — will be held
accountable for such actions.”

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The Penguins avoided taking retaliatory penalties, even after
the Flyers appeared to target Talbot and forward Matt Cooke late
in the game.

“In the locker room we kind of talked to each other to make sure
we skate away from that stuff and kind of keep our pace going,”
Staal said. “I think it turned out great.”

So did Bylsma, a minor league coach until mid-February who has
enjoyed a successful NHL playoff debut as a head coach.

“We talked about the higher intensity level the playoffs bring,”
Bylsma said. “You have to walk the line. … It’s been a part of
every playoff series, it will be a part of every playoff series,
and Game 1, we did a decent job of controlling our emotions. But
it always is going to be there again game after game after game
after game.”

What the Flyers must find is a way to control the Penguins’
speed and depth. The Flyers not only didn’t slow the Crosby or
Malkin lines, they got little production from their own deep
cast of scorers after being the only NHL team this season with
six players who had 25 or more goals.

The Flyers also were the NHL’s most-penalized team, and they
spent so much time killing penalties that it wore down center
Mike Richards, whose 23 minutes, 17 seconds of ice time were the
most of any Philadelphia player except defenseman Braydon

“I think I probably did him a little bit of a disservice — he’s
arguably our best player and I relied on him I think a little
too much,” said Stevens, who, nevertheless, plans to keep
Richards on the penalty-killing unit.

The Flyers understand the importance of Game 2 against the
confident Penguins, who are 15-6 during the last two postseasons
and 10-2 in Pittsburgh.

“You never want to be down in a series, so obviously there’s a
little bit more pressure now to get this next win so we can
carry some momentum over into our building,” the Flyers’ Matt
Carle said. “But at the same time if we go down 2-0 in a series
it’s not over. We still have two games in our building. But it’s
definitely not a spot you want to be in.”

Last spring, the Flyers lost the first game in each of the first
two rounds but came back to win both series.

“Some of the message is the same. When you’re in a seven-game
series you have to take each game by itself, whether you win or
you lose,” Stevens said. “You can’t get caught up in that one
game, it’s one game.”