-- The Philadelphia Flyers
situation may look desperate, down two games to none, against the Chicago Blackhawks
in the Stanley Cup Final -- and it is. Only two of 33 teams that have gone down 2-0 in Stanley Cup Final history have rallied to win, including the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins
To have the confidence needed to rally, the Flyers have to look at the situation in a different way. For instance, in their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Boston Bruins
, the Flyers became only the third team in Stanley Cup Playoff history to rally from a 3-0 series deficit. Then in Game 7, they rallied from a 3-0 goal deficit.
They can come back, they've done it before and they consider themselves a very resilient team.
While history and probabilities are against them, the game is played on the ice and the reality is the Flyers have lost two one-goal games on the road. They led for a good part of Game 1 and were the better team in Game 2 for all but 30 seconds. They were all over the Blackhawks in the third period of Game 2 but couldn't score.
One statistic that they will look at and incorporate into their planning for Game 3 on Wednesday night (8 p.m. ET, Versus, CBC, RDS) is that only 56 percent of the shots
they've taken have been on net. The Flyers launched 55 shots in Game 1 and five scored, 27 were stopped by Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi
, 11 were blocked and 12 missed the net. In Game 2, they took 61 shots and one went in. Niemi had 32 saves, 18 were blocked and 10 missed the net. In all, of the Flyers' 116 shots, six have scored, 59 were stopped by Niemi, 29 were blocked and 22 missed.
Niemi has gotten credit for his play but a 3.00 goals-against average and .908 save percentage don't keep shooters up at night.
One-fourth of all the Flyers' shots have been blocked by the Blackhawks' skaters, or just about half as many as Niemi has stopped. The Blackhawks have been pulling a forward and both defensemen, in most cases, in front of the net to block shots from the best angles, including point-blank shots from the slot.
Don't forget, most of the missed shots have missed because the shooter tried to find a narrow opening at the sides of the net -- or they were credited as shots when, actually, they were passes to teammates who setting up at the side of the net.
"You try to find shot lanes the best you can," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette
explained. "In the playoffs, that's what happens. The attempts are there but they get blocked. We can still do a better job of getting in. It seems a lot of times the pucks are coming in and the screens are just off to the side. I think we need that extra step to get right in front of (Niemi), cause more havoc and chaos for him. Our opportunities to score last night were there, drastically there in the third period but we couldn't find it, couldn't find the back of the net.
"We believe there are holes there. We found them in the first game. We didn't get them to the back of the net in the second game. We need to continue to fire, we continue to create, we continue to clog it up and take as many looks and opportunities as we can at the net. Sometimes, that means changing that lane or that angle to get around those blocked shots."
Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith
led with six blocked shots in Game 2 and is the series leader with eight. Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson
led Game 1 with four blocked shots and has seven for the series. Brent Seabrook
has blocked four shots.
"These guys stepped in front of a lot of shots," Flyers center Danny Briere
said. "Last night, we had three or four good chances in the higher slot. They had two or three guys in line trying to defend those shots. We didn't look at specifically any videos of it, realizing we know. Sometimes, it's a case of maybe taking a step to the side or hitting a (teammate) at the side of the net instead of trying to pound it through them. It's something they're doing well and we'll have to adjust to it."
The Blackhawks are a young club, and the Flyers play them only once a season. Briere was asked if the two-game exposure to the Blackhawks in the Final has helped the Flyers get a better understanding of the skills and tendencies of individual Blackhawks players.
"We believe there are holes there. We found them in the first game. We didn't get them to the back of the net in the second game. We need to continue to fire, we continue to create, we continue to clog it up and take as many looks and opportunities as we can at the net. Sometimes, that means changing that lane or that angle to get around those blocked shots." -- Peter Laviolette
"We're starting to find out how they play, their lines and line chemistry," Briere said. "We know a little bit about their players that we didn't know much about. We talked about Dave Bolland
, that's a good example. (Kris) Versteeg and (Tomas) Kopecky have been playing well as a line. We all know about their top guys. On defense, it's tough to say his name, No. 4, (Niklas) Hjalmarsson, he's playing well.
"We talked about shot-blocking, them blocking a lot of shots, there are a few guys you get to know and try to adapt and put them in areas where they're not comfortable. I'm sure they're going to try to do the same thing."
Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger
has been having fun between games by teasing the media but it's apparent he's learned something about the Blackhawks after having five shots blocked in two games.
"What have we learned? I don't really think I want to tell you that," Pronger said, smirking. "We've learned lots. Let's see if we can implement it now."
Contact John McGourty at email@example.com