VOORHEES, N.J. -- In the first round against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Philadelphia Flyers had no trouble getting emotionally invested in that series from the first puck drop in Game 1, and it seemed to play a large role in their six-game series win.
Reaching that same level through the first three games against the New Jersey Devils in the conference semifinals has been far tougher.
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"Of course we hate them," defenseman Andreas Lilja told NHL.com. "You have to hate them, we play them almost every night. We have to get more emotions involved."
Lilja said it was easy to get up emotionally to play the Penguins because there are, "a lot more guys in Pittsburgh I think who do more [stuff] after whistles. That's the main thing."
New Jersey, he said, is far more disciplined, which has made raising that emotional level a bit more of a struggle.
"As a team we just haven't used or played with enough emotion and passion as we have in the first round against Pittsburgh," forward Danny Briere said. "That's what we have to find. I don't know if we left a lot in the other series or what [but] that's certainly something we need to find again. Every single playoff game should be played with the most passion and most emotion. Obviously it wasn't there the last couple games."
However, no one with the team doubts their chances for a win in Game 4 on Sunday (7:30 p.m., NBCSN, CBC, RDS), which would even the series at 2-2 heading back to Philadelphia for Game 5 on Tuesday.
"Do I doubt that we can go into New Jersey and win a game? No, I don't have a doubt about that. I know that's very possible," coach Peter Laviolette said.
But to that, the Flyers will need to find the emotional will to win.
"You have to find something that gets your heart ticking," Briere said. "This is the Stanley Cup Playoffs. If that doesn't do it, then you're probably in the wrong sport."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK