(Philadelphia, PA) - So what's it like the day after putting the finishing touches on one of the biggest playoff comebacks in sports history?
For the Philadelphia Flyers, it was just like any other day at the office. Upon returning to their practice facility in Voorhees, N.J., coach Peter Laviolette held an optional skate on Saturday -- only a handful of players participated.
A surprise addition to the morning group, however, was forward Ian Laperriere
, who skated for the first time since suffering a brain contusion after blocking a shot in Game 5 against the New Jersey Devils on April 22. Laperriere has been cleared to skate, but not cleared for contact. He's not aware when the next MRI is scheduled either.
The Flyers became just the third team in NHL history to win a series they trailed 3-0 on Friday with a 4-3 victory over the Boston Bruins. But unlike the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and the '75 New York Islanders, the Flyers were forced to rally from a 3-0 hole in the series finale at TD Garden.
|Josh Gorges of Montreal Canadiens is hit into the boards by Mike Richards of the Philadelphia Flyers earlier this season. (Getty Images) |
But with the Montreal Canadiens coming to the Wachovia Center for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday night, there was little time to celebrate.
"We've turned the page pretty quickly," defenseman Chris Pronger
said. "We've got a game (Sunday) night against a team that's playing very, very well. So it's going to be … we're going to really need to focus and prepare and we've got to concentrate and focus on being prepared for Game 1, because it's going to be a battle."
Laviolette admitted it was tough to get to sleep following his team's dramatic win against the Bruins, but agreed that it's time to move on.
"We left the game and no one went to bed early last night. I didn't need to call anyone because everybody was there with me," said Laviolette, a Massachusetts native. My wife, children and mom and dad were there. It was hard to get to sleep and then you're up here (Saturday) morning trying to sort everything out and talking to players and trying to dial in."
The Canadiens' run to the conference final is equally as unlikely as Philadelphia's -- they ousted top-seeded Washington in the first round and beat the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the second, winning Game 7 in both series on the road.
"Montreal has done an excellent job of defending their end," Laviolette said. "They're a very good offensive team, and I think that flies under the radar -- especially when you're playing the Pittsburghs and the Washingtons of the world. Yes, they had to be good defensively, but they were also good offensively."
Flyers captain Mike Richards, who leads the team with 12 assists and 17 points, doesn't think his team will experience a letdown after the emotional comeback against Boston.
"I think it can go two ways," he said. "I think if you have a letdown and kind of take a breath after (Friday's) game, it's probably not going to go the way that you want. But I think if we carry the momentum that we've built over the last four games and winning the series … I think we're going to like the way we play.
"We have to kind of approach (Sunday) like we did every other day after a game and just move on and focus on the next opponent, which we did (Saturday morning). Just come in (Sunday) morning and be excited and ready to play a hockey game."
Forward Danny Briere
, who'll be playing in his fourth conference final in the last five seasons, feels the team's success is due to a combination of Laviolette's aggressive approach to each game and the chemistry that has formed within the locker room.
"We have to give a lot of credit to Pete's system but, at the same time, team chemistry begins when you start winning," said Briere, who had 5 goals and 10 points against Boston. "That's how you build those special bonds with teammates. What just happened against Boston is going to be with us forever. We've formed a special bond and, hopefully, that chemistry will help us moving forward this year."
Briere also sees an advantage starting their series against the Canadiens sooner rather than later -- the .
"I think it'll be easier than the last series when we were idol for almost a week before we got started," he said. "I think it's going to be easier to just keep going. We're feeling good. We're happy about our game. We just won four in a row, including some big clutch games. I wish we'd start (Saturday). Everyone is confident, excited and we're on a high. I'm glad we're going to keep it going."