PHILADELPHIA -- If there’s a bright side for the Flyers to being in a situation that is almost impossible, it’s having been in one before. Not very long ago in fact.
Philadelphia was actually worse off in round two when it lost the first three games to Boston, so there is something for the Flyers to draw on. And that's probably the biggest reason the Flyers aren’t getting all bent out of shape after dropping the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals in Chicago.
“We're way past that that mental thing,” said Flyers coach Peter Laviolette after the team returned home to prep for the crucial Game 3 on Wednesday. “If you're asking if this team can overcome obstacles or overcome adversity, we've been towing that line since Christmas.
“I don't think you get to this point in the season where you're 29th at Christmas and not be able to overcome adversity. We it did all year. We did it at the end of the year. We did it in the first round. We did it without players. We did it in the second round. This team is capable. I'm 100% confident in that this team is capable.”
Maybe. Despite the two one-goal losses, the Flyers were not really outplayed by the heavily-favored Blackhawks and might have come away with at least one victory had a bounce or two gone in their favor. And Philadelphia dominated the third period of Game 2, only to be frustrated by some great work by Chicago goalie Antti Niemi.
It was arguably the best 20 minute effort by either team so far in a series in which neither one has looked consistently impressive and has featured more in the way of sloppiness and breakdowns than skill and talent.
But the bottom line is that Niemi has been just a little bit better overall than Philadelphia’s Michael Leighton and the Blackhawks have able to find ways to win one game that had a run-and-gun flavor and another that was tighter and more physical. And that puts the Flyers in a precarious position since 31 of the previous 33 teams that have done so have gone on to win the Stanley Cup.
“We had a little bit of a meeting and we were reminded of the Boston Series were we played well and did a lot of good things and found ourselves down 0-2, so it's not the time to get discouraged or to try to do different things on the ice,” Flyers captain Mike Richards said. “I think if we keep plugging along the way we have been playing, and doing the things we have been doing, the results are going to come.”
Obviously that’s the way the Flyers have to approach things. They have overcome difficult situations all season and they have done some things well in this series, most notably containing the Blackhawks top line of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien. Between them, the Chicago unit has managed just one assist so far, which could be interpreted as a troubling sign because it hasn’t prevented the Blackhawks from coming out on the long end of scores.
“We have four lines that can contribute offensively, and that's the reason we're here,” said Patrick Sharp
And being here is another reason for the Flyers to be concerned issue since Chicago is carrying a seven-game winning streak on the road into Philadelphia. The upside though is that Flyers will get the advantage of the last line change which should help with the matchups, and Philadelphia has won seven in a row in its own building.
Still the Flyers will have to find ways of getting the Blackhawks to play at the pace they want and to get more traffic in front of Niemi. And avoiding another poor start, which could take crowd out of the game, wouldn’t hurt.
“Looking at the chances for and against in both games, we feel we're ahead of them, we’re just missing a little something around the net,” Danny Briere said. “But you need four wins to win a Series. With our team, it seems like we like to grind it out, make it tough. We're a team that can go a long ways with the way we play.”
And maybe make a little more history along the way.