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Power play fizzles in Flyers? Game 2 defeat

by Mike G. Morreale /
BOSTON -- Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger is in unchartered territory with regard to the team's psyche at this critical stage of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

After suffering a pair of one-goal setbacks to the Boston Bruins at TD Garden in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Pronger and the Flyers now find themselves down, 2-0, as this best-of-seven series shifts to Philadelphia for Games 3 and 4 on Wednesday and Friday.

The numbers certainly aren't in their favor. The Flyers are 7-20 all-time when losing Game 2 of a best-of-seven series and are 2-12 in series in which they've lost the opening two contests. The Bruins are 20-6 when leading a best-of-seven, 2-0.

"What's team morale right now? That's a good question and I don't have an answer for you," Pronger said following Boston's 3-2 victory in Game 2 on Monday. "I haven't tested the pulse of the team just yet."

It was another demoralizing defeat. Only this time, instead of an overtime loss, the Flyers allowed a goal in the final three minutes of regulation.

And unlike the opening game, when the team went a satisfactory 2-for-5 on the power play, the Flyers couldn't generate much of anything with the man advantage in going 0-for-4 on Monday. In fact, they only produced four shots in 7:56 of power-play time -- a telling statistic for a team that thrived on special teams all season.

"It was a little sloppy for me at times," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "It seemed like we got outnumbered and out-battled. Anything down low, it seems like they pressure quite a bit. We had some looks up top. I thought we might have been able to generate some shots, but we passed them up. Our power play can be better."

Flyers forward Danny Briere, who extended his points-scoring streak to four games with a goal and one assist, was puzzled by his team's struggles on the power play.

"I don't know what was going on," he said. "We couldn't even get out of our zone, which is unusual with the guys we have. That was the most frustrating part of the power play; not being able to even get past our blue line."

Still, Briere feels the Flyers are close to breaking out in this series.

"It's demoralizing to lose, obviously, but at the same time we're right there," he said. "There's not much that separates these teams. A couple of tweaks here and there or a bounce here and we could be up, 2-0. So we can't change too much. We have to go home and keep our heads up. We've been battling and playing hard. Good things are about to happen."

Through eight games in the playoffs, Philadelphia still ranks among the top five on the power play with a 26.3-percent efficiency (10-of-38).

"Our power play was sloppy," captain Mike Richards said. "We're not on the same page. I think when you try different units, it's always tough to get the chemistry that you need to do things, but our specialty teams are a big part. The next couple of days we can look at some video and figure it out and move on."

The Flyers finished third on the power play in the regular season with a 21.4-percent efficiency -- behind only Montreal (21.8 percent) and Washington (25.2 percent).

"I think it was our inability to shoot the puck in the second period," Pronger said of two missed power-play opportunities. "I think we got a little too cute. We got to get someone in front of the net to screen (Tuukka Rask). Goalies like him at this stage of the playoffs are dialed in and playing well, and we need to get in front of those guys for them to not be able to see the puck."

Both Richards and Briere feel heading back to Philadelphia will certainly give the team a motivational boost for Games 3 and 4. It might also revitalize the power play.

"We're going back home where we feel more comfortable and there's nothing to dwell on," Richards said. "We just have to win one game in this building (TD Garden). If we keep playing at the tempo that we are, hopefully we're going to get the results."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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