Flyers need to go back to their bully roots vs. Devils

The Devils' Martin Brodeur goes after James van Riemsdyk (21) after the Flyers forward ran into the goalie. The Flyers were outmuscled and outplayed by the Devils during Game 2 of their playoff series.
The Devils' Martin Brodeur goes after James van Riemsdyk (21) after the Flyers forward ran into the goalie. The Flyers were outmuscled and outplayed by the Devils during Game 2 of their playoff series. (MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer)
Posted: May 04, 2012

During the regular season, the Flyers were kings of the road. No NHL team had more road victories, and the Flyers will need to resort to that winning, focus-for-60-minutes formula as the Turnpike Series with the New Jersey Devils shifts to Newark for Game 3 on Thursday night.

"No easy games in the playoffs," said goalie Ilya Bryzgalov after Wednesday's practice in Voorhees. "The farther you go, the harder it gets."

The Devils dominated Game 2, registering a 4-1 win and evening the best-of-seven series at one game each.

"We did a lot of bad things last game, and that's not the team we want to be," center Claude Giroux said. "We want to be a team that works hard and plays as a team. We got outworked and that can't be allowed, especially in our building."

If the Flyers are going to regain the upper hand, they need to rediscover the relentlessness they displayed in Game 1 - and in the first-round upset of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On Tuesday, in one of their flattest performances of the season, the Flyers were outskated and outhit by a Devils team that was playing shorthanded because of a lower-back injury to star winger Ilya Kovalchuk, who is questionable for Thursday.

"I think it's more credit to everybody," Devils goalie Marty Brodeur said after the game. "Now, without Kovy in the lineup, we definitely have to go back to the basics and everybody chip in together and that's what we did.

"Our system works when everybody is in it. Our defensemen were activating, keeping pucks alive in their zone and that made a big difference in why we were able to put so much pressure on them."

The Devils outshot the Flyers, 35-20, and outhit them, 32-24.

"We need to be more physical; it's going to put us more on the puck," Giroux said. "We have to keep the tempo going."

After the first 10 minutes, the Devils spent most of the game in the Flyers' end, using a persistent forecheck and winning most of the board battles.

It was a stunning development because it's the Flyers who are usually the attackers and the ones who thrive in those aspects of the game.

The Devils, fatigued from a grueling series in which they won Games 6 and 7 in overtime against Florida in the conference quarterfinals, wore down in the series opener against the Flyers on Sunday. But they regrouped and looked refreshed on Tuesday, making the Flyers play on their heels.

"They played great offense, and it seemed we couldn't get out of our end, not for shifts at a time, but periods at a time," said left winger Scott Hartnell, part of a topline unit that struggled in Game 2. "I don't think it was our best effort. We lost a lot of battles. Our compete level wasn't there. It's going to have to be a lot better if we want to stay in the series."

"We're not doing the little things right," Flyers winger Matt Read said. "I think we're a lot better if we just keep moving our feet and do the simple things. No team can beat us when we're on our game."

The Flyers were 25-13-3 on the road in the regular season, including a 2-1 mark in New Jersey. Bryzgalov was 2-0 at the Prudential Center and allowed a total of one goal.

"The whole season, we found a way to be a good road team," Giroux said. "We go out there and get four lines rolling. And Bryz has been shutting the door. It's been pretty much the same all year, and hopefully we keep the same story."

The Flyers have already erased the memory of their dismal Game 2 effort, Giroux said.

"In the playoffs, it's about teams that can put (bad games) behind them and go forward and motivate themselves the next game," he said. "I think we're a team like that. We have a lot of character in this room."

Ditto the Devils, a team that won a dramatic Game 7 in Florida in the conference quarterfinals, then took away the home-ice advantage against the Flyers by winning on the road without their high-scoring winger.


Contact Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com, or on Twitter @BroadStBull.

 

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