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Going into Game 3, Flyers familiar with deficits

EXACTLY 30 DAYS ago, the Flyers were in a two-game hole against the Boston Bruins - on their way back to Philadelphia for Game 3, fighting for their playoff lives.

EXACTLY 30 DAYS ago, the Flyers were in a two-game hole against the Boston Bruins - on their way back to Philadelphia for Game 3, fighting for their playoff lives.

The similarities and the comparisons to that Eastern Conference semifinal series and now, with the Flyers in that all-too-familiar deficit, are inevitable.

For much of the first two games against the Bruins, the Flyers controlled the play. They won the puck battles and they outplayed and outskated Boston. But they trailed in the only stat that really matters in May and June: wins.

History was made in that series.

Now, trailing 2-0 in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup finals against Chicago, the Flyers have the Blackhawks right where they want them.

They left Chicago knowing they won large chunks of those two games. That's like a 16-seed celebrating a close loss to the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament - it doesn't count for anything.

Maybe the Flyers have a penchant for pain. Or maybe they just really believe that skating with a vivid memory of their four-game reverse sweep against Boston in their back pockets, they can overcome anything. They have a shot to cut Chicago's lead in half tonight at the Wachovia Center in Game 3.

"We never make it easy on ourselves," Danny Briere admitted. "But we think we play better when we're in that situation. We're feeling more comfortable when we're in those situations.

"What I like about our team is the way we respond when we put ourselves with our backs against the wall. We've overcome it before and we're confident we can do it again."

Flyers captain Mike Richards said overcoming deficits like these are more mental than they are necessarily physical. It is not possible to win two games in one night, especially not in the Cup finals.

Peter Laviolette said his pregame speeches against the Bruins just asked: "Can we beat the Boston Bruins tonight?" They did not ask about beating the Bruins in four straight games. But one by one, those wins turn into a series.

"We did a great job against Boston just focusing on the one-game-at-a-time mindset and not looking forward to the big picture," Richards said. "It's unfortunate that we're in the situation. We're obviously a confident group. It's something that I think we have to play the cards we're dealt right now and move on."

The Flyers are battle tested. And with all they have been through - the injuries, the coaching change, the deficits and the pressure - Laviolette said he doesn't question his team's mental makeup. He knows what he is working with.

"We're way past that mental thing," Laviolette said. "If you're asking if this team can overcome obstacles or overcome adversity, we're so far beyond that. We've been toeing that line since Christmas.

"I don't think you get to this point in the season, where you're 29th [place in league] at Christmas and not be able to overcome adversity. We it did all year. We did it at the end of the year. We did it in the first round. We did it without players. We did it in the second round. This team is capable. I'm 100 percent confident in that, this team is capable."

Overcoming a 2-0 lead is not impossible in the Stanley Cup finals, even though 31 of the 33 teams to trail by two games at this juncture in the playoffs went on to lose the series. Pittsburgh did it just last year against Detroit.

"Not too many people have done it," Richards said. "But not too many people have come back from 0-3 either."

Then again, the Chicago Blackhawks are far and away the most talented team the Flyers have drawn in the playoffs. That doesn't scare them. The Flyers have not backed down against the Blackhawks once this series - grabbing leads of 1-0, 3-2 and 4-3 in Game 1 or when faced with a 2-0 third-period deficit in Game 2.

Just one goal was the difference in both games. Many of the Blackhawks admitted they "stole" the first game of the series.

"Sometimes when you get blown out of the water, it's tough mentally to come back," Briere said. "But looking at the chances for and against in both games, we feel like we're ahead of them.

"We kind of did the same thing against Boston where early in the series we were outchancing them. I think that's the point where we're at now. We're still feeling good about it. Obviously, we would rather be up 2-0 or even 1-1. But we've been in the same situation before, and we believe we can come back. We believe in our team. That's a big part of the battle."

Now, the battle shifts to the Wachovia Center, where the Flyers are a playoff-best 7-1 at home. Suddenly, the series does not look all that daunting.

"We've been in this position before," Chris Pronger said. "We have dealt with a lot of different things, a lot of question marks and have always come through in the clutch. This will be no different."

"You need four wins to win a series," Briere said. "With our team, it seems like we like to grind it out, make it tough. We're a team that can go a long ways with the way we play."

And the way they think.

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