Cechmanek will be great again, team vows

Posted: May 04, 2003

OTTAWA — If nothing else, Flyers goalie Roman Cechmanek has established a predictable pattern in these playoffs.

"He's been great, then not so great, so he'll be great next game," coach Ken Hitchcock said after yesterday's stinging 5-2 loss to the Senators in Game 5 put the Flyers on the brink of elimination in this best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Ottawa, which leads the series by three games to two, can wrap it up tomorrow night at the First Union Center.

The Flyers expect their schizoid goalie, who gave up a couple of bad ones yesterday, to be fine in Game 6.

"We expect it from him," Flyers captain Keith Primeau said. "It's kind of the way he has been. He will be a rock on Monday night."

Cechmanek didn't seem fazed after the game.

"We have to regroup and play a lot better than tonight," he said.

There were breakdowns in front of him yesterday. Unlike last spring when Cechmanek blew a gasket in Game 4 here by berating his teammates' defensive play, yesterday he chose his words carefully.

"I don't want to say something wrong, but I am not sure we played good in the neutral zone or our defensive zone," he said.

Cechmanek said it didn't bother him that he was lifted from the game in the second period. Asked what his state of mind will be for Game 6, the goalie replied: "I expect the same things as last time. Just relax, go in there and play like I know how."

Special teams. The Flyers' special teams were up and down the entire season even though their penalty-killing finished ninth in the NHL at 85.2 percent. Their penalty-killing has been woeful in the series against Ottawa.

The Senators scored two power-play goals yesterday and have connected on 5 of 21 chances in the series. That's 23.8 percent proficiency, which is pretty good.

"They were extremely successful on the power play all season," Primeau said. "Our penalty killing had been excellent for us all through the playoffs, and now we are struggling a bit. I'm not sure what it is. We have to make some adjustments."

Hitchcock said he sees the problem. The Flyers aren't winning face-offs on the penalty kill or getting the puck out of the zone when they have the chance.

"It's face-offs and being stronger on the clears," Hitchcock said. "We lost face-offs and it hurt us. And so did not clearing pucks."

Contact staff writer Tim Panaccio

at 215-854-2847 or tpanaccio@phillynews.com.

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