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Flyers' top line finding tougher go in second round

by Adam Kimelman

Claude Giroux was the most dominant player in the League in the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Through two games of the second round, however, he and linemates Scott Hartnell and Jaromir Jagr have been far less effective.

In the first two games against the New Jersey Devils, the trio has combined for one goal, 10 shots, a minus-5 rating and zero even-strength points.

Those numbers stand in stark contrast to the offense they generated in the first round -- nine goals and 17 points, with 13 of those points coming at even strength.

"We had zero forecheck," Hartnell said after practice Wednesday. "Our line, I don't know if we had a shot five-on-five. Definitely our line has to pick it up. We have to lead the way for everyone else to follow suit. Definitely wasn't up to par [in Game 2].

Hartnell, who had one shot and minus-1 rating in 16:43 of ice time in Game 2, said any critics should point the finger at him.

"I wasn't forechecking, I wasn't hitting," he said. "Seemed like my legs weren't moving. When you don't have a guy going on a line, it's tough to get the other two guys going as well. I have to be better. I have to get emotionally into the game. Felt like it was too easy for them. And that's part of my mold, is to make it hard on them."


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Hartnell, who had the best regular season of his career in 2011-12, hasn't produced at the same level in the playoffs, with just two goals and three assists in eight games, and just three shots in two games against the Devils. He also blocked a Marek Zidlicky shot 7:21 into Game 1 that had him limping that night, but when asked about it Wednesday, Hartnell said he was "fine."

Devils coach Peter DeBoer didn't match lines with the Flyers much in Game 1, but in Game 2 the Giroux line saw a healthy dose of the trio of Adam Henrique, Steve Bernier and Alexei Ponikarovsky.

However, Giroux said it wasn't so much what the Henrique line did as what he and his linemates didn't do as far as executing what has made them successful.

"I don't think it's about them," he said. "It's us. We didn't work, we didn't play hard. We lost a lot of battles. We didn't have the jump we had in the first series. We'll have to change that in New Jersey."

Giroux said he feels the game Tuesday was an anomaly, and said he trusts that the success he had with Hartnell and Jagr this season will show itself again when the teams hit the ice for Game 3 of the conference semifinal series Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).

"I think we've just got to go back to what we were doing," he said. "We had a successful season, and obviously during the season we had some bad games, but we found a way to step it up after. The series is 1-1 going to Jersey. We just have to find a way to win that Game 3 and go game by game."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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