CHICAGO - After the Flyers won three straight games against Boston to even the conference semifinals at three victories apiece, the players said unless they won Game 7, their rally from a 3-0 series deficit would be meaningless.
They have the same attitude about the Stanley Cup Finals.
Unless they win it all, several players said before Game 1 on Saturday in Chicago, their remarkable playoff journey won't mean much.
"Who remembers the losers? Nobody," right winger Ian Laperriere, 36, said before the Flyers' 6-5 loss to the Blackhawks. "There's only two teams left, and we made it that far, we might as well win it. Like I told my young teammates, just because you made it to the Finals this year . . . don't expect it to happen all the time, especially with all the parity in the league now.
"They have to realize this may be their first chance and their last chance."
Claude Giroux, the blossoming 22-year-old center who led the Flyers with six points and a plus-7 rating in the conference finals against Montreal, said "anything less than winning a Cup would be a disappointment for this team. We know it's not going to be easy. We're facing the best team that we're going to face in the playoffs, so we have to give it to them and play hard."
Right winger Ville Leino agreed with his teammates, saying the first three series wins won't be as special if the Flyers don't finish off the Blackhawks.
"They don't give silver medals away here like the Olympics," Leino said. "Obviously you don't remember the losers, so we've got to win this to make this count."
Leino's situation is rare. He has made it to the Finals two straight years, having played for Detroit when it lost to Pittsburgh in last year's championship round.
"It's not a whole lot of fun to lose these Finals, so we're going to be ready right away," he said.
Leino, by the way, entered the Finals with 12 playoff points (in 13 games) - one more than in 55 regular-season games.
, Chicago's third-line left winger, did not play Saturday because of a shoulder injury and was replaced by
who had three goals in 11 playoff games and was plus-2.Kopecky went on the score the game-winner in Chicago's 6-5 win Saturday.
Ladd, who was more consistent than Kopecky in the regular season, had two goals in 16 playoff games and was minus-1.
Both players have won Cups - Ladd with Carolina on a 2006 team coached by Peter Laviolette, and Kopecky with Detroit in 2008.
"We're pretty confident in both of them," Chicago winger Patrick Kane said.
The checking line of Dave Bolland, Kris Versteeg and Kopecky began the night assigned to Mike Richards' line.
was excited to be the Flyers' backup goalie Saturday - a status that changed when he replaced starter
in the second period.
"It's nice to be in the locker room with the guys and be a part of things," said Boucher, who had not dressed for a game since spraining both knees in the conference semifinals against Boston on May 10. "I told Jimmy (McCrossin, the trainer) to make me a believer because I was hurting pretty good there, and he assured me this would be the case. Kudos to him; he knows his stuff. He pushed me along and I feel good."
Added Boucher: "Obviously, there's soreness there, but from a medical standpoint, they say I cannot do more damage by just doing normal stuff. If someone falls on me, that's a different story, but that can happen to anybody."
The line of Danny Briere (game-high six shots), Scott Hartnell and Leino combined for nine points and a plus-5 rating . . . Both teams' first lines were scoreless. Richards, Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne, the Flyers' first-liners, were a combined minus-7, and the Hawks' Jonathan Toews, Dustin Byfuglien and Kane were a combined minus-9 . . . Byfuglien had 10 of Chicago's 37 hits. The Flyers had 40 hits . . . Chicago won 63 percent of the faceoffs . . . The Hawks scored six goals despite not getting a single power play. The Flyers were 1 for 4 on the power play . . . Chris Pronger played a game-high 32:21
Giroux entered Saturday second in the NHL with a plus-10 rating in the playoffs, behind only Detroit's
(plus-11) . . . Heading into Saturday, the playoff faceoff leaders among players who had reached the Finals were: Chicago's Toews at 57.9 percent; the Flyers'
at 56.6 percent; and the Hawks'
at 50.6 percent. No one else was above 50 percent . . . In the first three playoff rounds, the Flyers trailed 24 percent of the time, while the Hawks trailed 27 percent of the time.