After being shut out in each of the first two games of the series, Montreal’s players kept talking about needing a lucky bounce to kick start their offense, and they got it when Mike Cammalleri fired home a rebound that came off the back boards seven minutes into Game 3. Montreal went on to win 5-1 and at least temporarily seized the momentum in the series. Now Philadelphia’s players are trying the verbal approach to get it back.
It certainly can’t hurt the Flyers to keep telling themselves, and anyone else who will listen for that matter, that they’ve yet to play as well as they should. Many of them kept insisting there was more to give even after Philadelphia won the first two games of this series at home, but after the Flyers were beaten badly in Montreal by the Canadiens in Game 3, it certainly rings a lot truer.
“It's just a good wake-up call for us,” Simon Gagne said. “We definitely have to be more hungry.”
Playing with a little more desperation wouldn’t hurt either, and neither would some improvement at even strength. But most important, the Flyers insist they need to be readier at the outset of the games, which is starting to sound like a stump speech for them.
“We might have got away with it a little bit in the first two games in Philly because we weren’t at our best,” Danny Briere said. “But last night we just weren't sharp from the start and we never had the chance to come back in the game
One reason was that goalie Michael Leighton looked decidedly ordinary. Leighton was brilliant early in both Games 1 and 2 and kept his team alive, but coach Peter Laviolette kept expressing concern heading into Game 3 about his team “rolling the dice” with the way it came out of the gates. Those fears that proved well founded as Montreal took control early and never let go.
“We got a little cocky, a little full of ourselves just thinking we could go out and play,” captain Mike Richards said. “This was a long way coming. We didn’t play all that well over the first couple games they handed to us right from the get-go.
“I don’t know if we thought we could throw our sticks on the ice and it was gonna be easy but give them credit. They played hard, they were all over the ice.”
Richards said the bright side in all of this was in the message sent by the one-sided loss.
“Maybe if we would have lost 3-2 or 2-1, we might not have thought about it too much,” he said. “But with a score like that in a game like that, I think questions have to be raised and looked for answers.”
Some of them presumably came in the video session the Flyers engaged in on the off-day. Philadelphia spent a fair amount of time looking at tape before holding a spirited practice that featured Ian Laperriere skating on a regular line for the first time since suffering a brain contusion after taking a slapshot to the face in round one.
His status for Game 4 remains unclear, but if Laperriere is able to return, he will add an edge to Philadelphia’s lineup in a series that is starting to develop some noticeable antagonism. The Flyers were bumped around a lot, and at one point, Cammalleri was got on the giant screen sticking his tongue out at Danny Carcillo. But what seemed to irk the Flyers most was Montreal’s decision to send its top power play unit on in the final minute with the game already decided. Richards said Philadelphia would take the bitter taste of that episode into Game 4.
“It is what it is,” Richards said. “I'm not sure what they were trying to do, maybe stick it to us a little bit because we were maybe rung around a bit.
“But Karma sometimes comes back to you too.”