Flyers don't expect same lack of offense in Game 2 vs. Sabres

Danny Briere battles Sabres' Paul Gaustad in Game 1.
Danny Briere battles Sabres' Paul Gaustad in Game 1.
Posted: April 16, 2011

CLAUDE GIROUX said this feeling, the one the Flyers have heading into tonight's Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against Buffalo, reminds him of that epic series against Boston last season.

No, the Flyers are not down by three games.

No, the Flyers aren't thinking they are going to need to duplicate one of the greatest comebacks in the history of professional sports.

And, no, the Sabres are not nearly as talented as last year's Bruins.

But the overwhelming reaction, the one inside the Flyers' locker room, is that they wholeheartedly believe that they outplayed Buffalo on Thursday night, despite coming out on the wrong side of an underwhelming 1-0 shutout loss.

It was the Flyers' first shutout loss in the playoffs since May 18, 2008, against Pittsburgh.

That's why another Flyer compared Game 2, which begins at 5 o'clock today at the Wells Fargo Center, to a roulette wheel at your favorite casino. Even after landing on red eight spins in a row, each individual roll is an independent attempt with the same odds as any other - despite what the electronic board next to it, or the scoreboard in the series, says.

"It's a totally new game," Kimmo Timonen said. "It doesn't matter if you lost or won Game 1."

That's why the Flyers have no plans on changing their strategy for tonight's grudge match, as they hope to take a series split to Buffalo for Game 3 on Monday night.

"I think we'll just stick with our game plan, what we've done the entire year," coach Peter Laviolette said. "We've scored a lot of goals this year, so I think there is a lot of confidence in that. We were one of the top scoring teams in the league."

Still, as Laviolette said on Thursday night: "This is a new team and a new year."

This isn't the same team that trumped Boston. And the Flyers seem to recognize that, and the fact that they have coughed up the home-ice advantage in this series already.

"We know we can win on the road," said Danny Briere, whose team set a franchise record for road wins in a season this year. "But yet, [tonight's] game is a big one. We definitely don't want to be in the hole two-zip."

Laviolette and the rest of the Flyers seemed to be happy with the intensity and energy levels. And that's fine. But there is no guarantee, even if they play well again tonight and fall, that they have the magic to do what they did last year. The Flyers know they are flirting with fire.

"I don't think it's the game that we have a problem with," Laviolette said. "It's the score. That's the issue. We're on limited time here in the playoffs. And if you don't make your mark, you don't get to go on."

Pronger update

The news continues to be less encouraging for Chris Pronger, who, once again, skated separately from his teammates early yesterday morning in an attempt to prepare himself for the Flyers' first-round matchup with Buffalo.

Pronger, who was not available to the media, focused mainly on skating and only briefly handled the puck.

Officially, the Flyers continue to list Pronger as day-to-day and a "game-day decision," with his right hand injury, though team sources say Pronger will not play tonight against Buffalo in Game 2. He remains unlikely to even be available for Game 3 in Buffalo on Monday.

Lineup change?

Nik Zherdev last played in a Stanley Cup playoff game back on April 28, 2009. He has had almost 2 full years to think about how his Rangers coughed up a 3-1 series lead to Washington - and how he didn't net a single point in the seven-game series.

Zherdev might finally get a chance to right one of those wrongs tonight in Game 2 against Buffalo. He flip-flopped lines in yesterday's practice, skating more with Kris Versteeg and Mike Richards.

Zherdev, who had 16 regular-season goals, was a healthy scratch for the 25th time this season, on Thursday. He was the key cog in the Flyers' 2-for-6 power-play success in Ottawa on April 5. Dan Carcillo is a prime candidate to come out of the lineup, having played a team-low 6 minutes, 26 seconds in a limited role in Game 1. Andreas Nodl was more noticeable with six hits in 11:07 of ice time.

Sabres' edge

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff has been around the game long enough to know the difference between a win well-earned and a win stolen - not that it much matters in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Ruff probably believes his team's Game 1 win was somewhere in the middle.

At the same time, he knows that posting just 25 shots again, without dominating the play in Game 2, will make it tougher on his team to leave with a sweep in South Philadelphia.

"We know we can be better," Ruff said yesterday. "We played a strong game. But we can play a better game. We didn't spend the time in the offensive zone we wanted. I think we really have to get after it in Game 2. I thought that hurt us."

Sabres forward Nathan Gerbe, who set up the game's only goal, said they need to do a better job of taking pressure off Ryan Miller.

"I just think everyone needs to come together," Gerbe said. "We're not going to put it on one person. Each game is going to get harder and everyone has to rise up."

Slap shots

Peter Laviolette said he thought rookie netminder Sergei Bobrovsky was "fine" in Game 1, stopping 24 of 25 shots . . . Interesting to note that backup goalie Brian Boucher is 4-1 in playoff games against Buffalo with a 1.94 goals-against average . . . The Flyers are 35-29 in Game 2s and are 18-16 all-time in Game 2 following a Game 1 loss. *

For more news and analysis, read Frank Seravalli's blog, Frequent Flyers, at

www.philly.com/FrequentFlyers. Follow him on Twitter at

http://twitter.com/DNFlyers.

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