Flyers brimming with confidence
Though they trail by 3-1 in the series, they say all the pressure is on the Penguins.
Danny Briere knows about trailing by three games to one in a playoff series. Last spring, he and his teammates on the Buffalo Sabres ended up losing in the Eastern Conference finals to the Ottawa Senators in five games.
Though the scenario is the same in this conference-final series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, he says the mood is different.
When Buffalo, down 3-0, won Game 4, "It just felt like we just kind of squeaked by and we kind of got lucky," the center said yesterday before the Flyers headed to Pittsburgh for Game 5 this afternoon.
"We had lost [Dainius] Zubrus and we had, I remember, a couple more guys got injured really bad. They didn't even know if they were going to play," Briere said.
"I just have the feeling that the mood is different than it was when I was in the same situation last year. It's a lot more upbeat" now, he said.
Feeling upbeat while facing elimination may seem odd, but the Flyers say the pressure is on the Penguins to finish the series.
"It's not like we can blow a three-zero lead," right winger Scottie Upshall said. "We can play the same way we did the last game. We know we can't take any shifts off. When you think about it that way, there is no pressure here.
"Right now, we go into their building, and the pressure is on them to match the effort we'll put on them. We're playing with our backs to the wall. . . . If they don't respond, we'll make this series a lot closer than they want it to be."
The Flyers' top defenseman, Kimmo Timonen, said yesterday he thought he would be ready to go.
"I hope to be on the ice. I've got to trust the doctors that there is no risk at all if I play," said Timonen, who missed the first four games of the series with a blood clot in his foot. "The symptoms won't be gone, they will be the same, but it felt pretty good today at practice, and that's why I'm pretty confident I'm ready to go.
"I talked to the doctors and our trainers in the last [week]. I just want to make sure there is no risk of me going out there, and then something bad happens. . . . That's the only issue."
Having Timonen back would be huge for the Flyers, center Mike Richards said, because Timonen greatly eases the burden of getting the puck up the ice, which troubled the Flyers the first three games of the series.
"He's our best defenseman," Richards said. "He's the quarterback on our power play. He kills penalties. He's really one of the best leaders in our dressing room, and maybe even in the league. . . . The confidence that we have in him back there, it just echoes throughout the dressing room."
Timonen's partner, Braydon Coburn, is still having vision problems in his left eye but said he expects to play.
The Flyers said the keys to winning are doing what they did in Game 4: strong forechecking and getting quality shots on goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
"The first couple of games, I think we let him off the hook," Richards said of Fleury. "Not going to the net and trying to pass around him too much. . . . But when you get pucks to the net and he's having trouble seeing them, there are going to be rebounds."
The Flyers also need to move the puck easily out of their zone, keep possession enough to score, and reduce the Penguins' chances.
"We weren't making plays with the puck in Game 1 and 2," right winger Joffrey Lupul said. "It was so much energy just to get the puck out of our own zone. Last game, when we got the puck, we turned it into something on the rush, which we hadn't done in previous games. It's definitely a lot less taxing to play the game like that instead of chasing those highly skilled guys around."