Skip to main content

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

three seconds remaining. The NHL held a disciplinary hearing

Thursday to decide whether Carcillo will be suspended.

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."


Joakim Kemell

Top 2022 Draft Prospect Joakim Kemell has Learned From His Ups and Downs

An unfortunate injury stalled Joakim Kemell’s incredible start against men for his ‘dream’ team, but the youngster has chosen to look on the bright side.


Blues' Binnington Expected to Miss Time

According to reports, St. Louis Blues netminder Jordan Binnington will miss at least Game 4 with a knee injury.


Lightning Fans Lend a Helping Hand for Toronto Charities

Despite another first-round playoff loss, the Toronto Maple Leafs still managed to benefit thanks to the help of Tampa Bay Lightning fans who helped donate to Toronto-area charities.