Facing elimination, Flyers can relax and play loosely


Friday, May 6, 2011
Posted: 10:17 a.m.

By Tim Panaccio and Sarah Baicker

BOSTON -- Mike Richards has often said hes not very good at giving speeches, even if he wears the "C" for the Flyers.

Barely a week into May, the Flyers find themselves in familiar territory Friday at TD Garden as they attempt to fend off a sweep by the Bruins in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Theres no speech that is needed, Richards said. Everybody understands the situation that were in. Theres words that will be said, but theres no speech ...

I think everyone is familiar with the situation were in and what we need to do to dig ourselves out of it.

Coach Peter Laviolette already gave his speech at the team meeting Thursday morning before practiceDanny Briere declined to get specific about what was said, but called the speech very similar to that which he made when the team was in this situation last year.

Now its a matter of the Flyers trying to get their nerves under control and playing the kind of hockey that led them to come back against the Buffalo Sabres in the first round. We havent seen that from the Flyers in this series.

Laviolette talked about how the Bruins took the fight out of his club in Game 3. The big, bad Bruins pasted the Flyers all over the boardsand the iceduring a 5-1 rout.

Thats what was most shocking about the loss: how the Flyers were outhit.

No one is expecting another 0-3 comeback. There has only been three of them in league historythe Flyers being the most recent team to do it last May. Yet what the coaching staff, the fans and the city expect is a decent showing in Game 4.

It's going to say a lot about us, how we respond to this, Laviolette said.

To some extent, since the expectations to get to the next round have now evaporated, the Flyers should be able to relax and simply play the game as it unfolds.

We dont have much to lose at this point, Briere said. Were just going out there and trying to have fun and win one game and go back to our building.

Win one game, and the Flyers play again on Mothers Day afternoon back in Philly.

You cant win four games on Friday, said Briere, whose math was correct.

There is the slim possibility that one win will give the Bruins pause about not closing this thing out. Probably notbut fans can hope.

Just one win would give us confidence, Claude Giroux said, And make them think about what happened last year. Just one win would put us back in the mix and going back in front of our fans, I have no doubt we could win a win there.

Its interesting that the Bruins Nathan Horton doesnt feel the Flyers collective will has been broken yet, even if thats the perception that was given on the Flyers' bench in Game 3 when they fell behind 4-0 in the second period.

Theyre a good team with a lot of good players, Horton said. You dont want to give them any life.

One little opportunity they get, they could score and get the momentum back. You just want to take their life away.

Keep pressing, keep playing and making it hard to play against. Keep finish our hits on them. Thats what the playoffs are about, right?

No skate
Because Bostons TD Garden was double-booked today, neither the Flyers nor the Bruins will have a morning skate. Instead, the arena will be filled with Northeastern students, and their friends and family taking part in graduation ceremonies.

Going without a skate is rather common during the regular season, but infrequent during the playoffs. Both teams will not skate until pregame warm-ups tonight at 7:30 p.m.

By the numbers
Heres some telling stats for Flyer fans to crunch on prior to Game 4:

Former Flyer defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who was often injured here, before being traded to Phoenix in 2006 for center Petr Nedved, is plus-9 in the series.

Matt Carle, Braydon Coburn, Kimmo Timonen and Briere are minus-4 in the series.

James van Riemsdyk, who was an impact player against Buffalo in the first round, is minus-3 even though he has three goals in the series.

Reliable Blair Betts, who finished the regular season at 50 percent on faceoffs, is 12 for 37 on draws in the series32.4 percent.

Richards, who also finished the regular season at 50 percent, is 17 for 4438.6 percent.

Richards is an uncharacteristic minus-5 in the series.

David Krejcis line (Milan LucicHorton) has six goals, eight assists and 14 points in the series.

Krejci (four goals, four assists) has the game-winning goal in all three games.

Loose pucks
Jeff Carter (sprained right knee) will attempt to play; Chris Pronger (backhamstring pull) remains doubtful. Even knowing that this is an elimination game, if Pronger, who has a high threshold for playing in pain, isn't out there, that tells you something about the gravity of his injury.Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to start in net.

E-mail Tim Panaccio at tpanotch@comcast.net or Sarah Baicker at sbaicker@comcastsportsnet.com

Related: Flyers hope added aggression can prolong seriesSource: Bobrovsky 'probable' to start in Game 4

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