VOORHEES, N.J. –
Adversity is nothing new to the Philadelphia Flyers
. But they've got one giant batch of it facing them if they want to continue their quest for the Stanley Cup.
On the heels of last season's League-worst record, the Flyers suffered through a 10-game losing streak and a number of major injuries this season, but persevered to claim the sixth-seed in the Eastern Conference. They surrendered a 3-1 advantage in the first round of the playoffs of the Washington Capitals
before winning Game 7 on the road, and came back from a disheartening Game 1 loss in the second round to Montreal to take that series.
Now they're down 3-0 to the Pittsburgh Penguins
in the Eastern Conference Finals.
"You've just got to keep going," said Jeff Carter
after Wednesday's practice. "We had a 10-game losing streak this year. We learned from it. We just have to keep battling. You can't let up, you have to keep going, work harder. We've got one game here to turn things around."
"All year we've dealt with injuries, guys being out, losing 10 in a row, coming back and winning a bunch in a row to get back into the playoffs," Scott Hartnell
added. "Right now we've dug ourselves a hole. I think we realize what needs to be done to get out of it. Now we just have to go out and believe in ourselves that we can do it, and go on the ice and do it."
After dropping Game 1 against the Canadiens, the Flyers won the next four. That recent history is something Hartnell says he and his teammates will draw on.
"Montreal had our number all year long," he said. "They beat us four in the regular season, the first one (in playoffs), a real disheartening loss in overtime. We came back. We showed a lot of character, just doing the simple things, playing together hockey. We have to do it again. We know we can, we've done it before. We just have to do it."
Coach John Stevens
was happy with the mood of his team.
"I love the enthusiasm of our team," he said. "It seems like the questions come around, 'Oh no, we're down 3-0.' It is what it is – we've been outplayed by Pittsburgh in this series and we need to play better. I think the effort has been there, the execution hasn't. I love the enthusiasm today, and I'm looking forward to the challenge tomorrow."
-- Adam Kimelman
Shuffling the deck –
The Flyers had a different look to their forward group at Wednesday's practice.
was centering a line with Mike Richards
and Scott Hartnell
. Vaclav Prospal
, who had been playing left wing with Briere and Hartnell, was shifted to center between left wing R.J. Umberger
and right wing Joffrey Lupul
Also, Patrick Thoreson was skating in place of Steve Downie
on the fourth line, along with Jim Dowd
and Sami Kapanen
"It was just something I wanted to look at in practice," Flyers coach John Stevens
said. "Richy and Danny had an awful lot of success together this year, mostly on the power play, but their two of the best offensive players on our team and in the League and two of the leaders on our hockey team for years to come. I thought we'd give it a look and there's a good chance you'll see it (Thursday).
"Vinny's natural position is center ice. We probably played one of our best games of the year with him at center late in the year. He's a great distributor of the hockey puck, he's very good on faceoffs. … I liked what I saw today. Whether we'll go with it tomorrow or not I'm not sure, but I'm leaning that way."
The moves didn't bother the players.
"At this time in the playoffs, it's not about yourself, it's about the team," said Briere. "If Johnny thinks that's the best way to go, it's the best way to go. We're excited. I know I'm excited about the opportunity. We're down, so we have to find a way. If that works, than great. It's not about what you think at this time, it's what's best for the team."
Hartnell said it really didn't matter who was skating with whom.
"It'll give us a spark," he said. "I think anyone can play with anyone in this locker room. We just need to find that first goal. And once that first goal goes in, maybe give us a lead. We'll be excited for that and we'll keep on building for that."
-- Adam Kimelman
Biron caught in limbo –
Flyers goalie Martin Biron
admitted he was moving the wrong way when Marian Hossa
released his snapshot from between the circles and into the right-hand corner of the cage to give Pittsburgh a 2-0 edge just 7:41 into the first period of Game 3 on Tuesday.
"He kind of made of good play getting in front of (Lasse) Kukkonen and it almost looked to me like he was going to go around him and then, at the last second, he just snapped that puck past my toe," said Biron. "The shot caught me as I was going the other way. It's not often you see a player make a move like that. It was very, very quick."
It was the first of two goals for Hossa, who now has eight in the postseason.
Biron feels the Flyers will battle hard to get back into the series Thursday night.
"We definitely are feeling the effects of (Tuesday) night and what happened, but we have to shake it off, get on the ice and just play hockey," Biron said. "Everyone is focused on tomorrow and there's no other thing to do right now but go out and win one to regain our confidence."
-- Mike G. Morreale
Coburn back on the ice –
Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn
still looks like a nightmare, but he skated Thursday for the first time since being hit in the face by a puck early in Game 2 on Sunday.
"It felt good to get a sweat going," said Coburn, who wore a half-shield to protect his still-swollen left eye. "When you're not skating out there, it takes a little bit out of you. You want to be part of the team all the time."
Coburn said there's progress in the swelling in that he can open his eye just by using his eyelid, rather than needing to lift the eye open with his fingers.
Stevens said it just was nice to see Coburn back on the ice.
"Certainly it was great to see him out there skating, that's obviously a step in the right direction," he said. "It'll be one of those things where we have to wait until tomorrow to see how he feels after being on the ice today and see how he progresses."
Stevens said he would wait until game time Thursday to decide on Coburn's playing status. If he's out, rookie Ryan Parent
, who played 18:06 in Game 3, will stay in the lineup.
-- Adam Kimelman
Easy on Downie –
Coach John Stevens
was asked about the late hit rookie forward Steve Downie
laid on the Penguins' Petr Sykora
after feeding Ryan Malone
for his third-period goal.
The hit knocked Sykora out of the game for a while in the third.
"Let's not pick on Steve Downie
," said Stevens. "There were lots of plays in the hockey game and things happen. (Evgeni) Malkin had an elbow on Danny (Briere, in Game 2). It's just part of the game. It's a physical game and Steve's a physical player. I don't think we need to single him out for anything that happened."
-- Adam Kimelman