The question for the Flyers yesterday, with the Pittsburgh Penguins coming into the Wachovia Center today, is which part of the epic comeback win over Carolina should they focus on.
The last 20 minutes, when the Flyers scored four times to tie a game in which they were down 5-1 and then won in the shootout? Or the first 40 minutes, where they played listless, sloppy hockey, and fell into a hole they would not get out of against the Penguins.
The answer is easy . . . It's the first 40 minutes. Play like that today and they will lose.
"I felt like the atmosphere, the feeling on the bench wasn't there," said Scottie Upshall, who scored the third goal of the third period. "The crowd had trouble getting into it, [Carolina] scored on the first shift.
"For us we have to build momentum ourselves [today]. Our first has to be a big shift. We have to go and bang bodies and shoot the puck and definitely can't give up goals. That was kind of a tide turner [Thursday], no question."
Carolina is a good enough team that when it got up two goals, as the Hurricanes did in the first period, they should have been able to close it out. If that happens with a team like Pittsburgh, which beat the Islanders 9-2 Thursday night and come in tied with the Flyers in points, there will not likely be a four-goal comeback.
The Flyers know that and if they don't, John Stevens made it his message of practice.
"We addressed what happened, the first 40 minutes and the way we played," Stevens said. "You don't get away with that very often. On the flip side of that, it was certainly encouraging to see our guys stay with it and find a way to win the hockey game.
"It's an unusual occurrence for that to happen, but we had the ability to make it happen, but it's not a habit you want to get into. You could feel the energy out there [yesterday]. The guys felt good about themselves for winning the hockey game and they're looking forward to the game [today]."
One break the Flyers will get is the return of Matt Carle. On Wednesday afternoon Carle didn't know when his rib injury would heal enough to let him play, and then one day later the defenseman said he felt like he could have played against Carolina.
"It was really frustrating because we didn't really know what it is and then we had a couple of good days the last couple of days and now here we are," said Carle, who took warmups before the game Thursday but was alright with the decision to hold him out, keep Lasse Kukkonen in, and give him another day to heal.
Unless something feels differently this morning, he'll play today.
"I feel about ninety percent sure," he said. "Unless there is a huge setback between now and [today] but I don't see anything like that happening. I'll be coming to the rink ready to play." *