Call it a fatal attraction. The Flyers can't live without flirting with failure.
"Nobody said it would be an easy ride," Chris Pronger said. "It never is."
Unlike a cat with nine lives, the Flyers do not have a running tally in their locker room that will let them know when they've finally dug their own grave.
At some point, whether it is June 18 - the last day of the Stanley Cup finals - or sometime next week, the music will stop. The Flyers' ridiculously entertaining, if not nerve-racking, run in the Stanley Cup playoffs will end. The playoff beards will be shaven and the crowd will stop cheering, eventually.
The Flyers just never seem to know when they've had enough.
Brian Boucher was not lying yesterday when he explained the Flyers' situation in the Eastern Conference semifinals after their 7-3 Game 1 shellacking on Saturday afternoon in front of the home fans. The clichés, thrown around yesterday were plentiful.
"It's only one game," Boucher said. "We are down 0-1. Whether we lose a game, 1-0, in triple overtime, or 7-3, we are still down, 1-0. It wouldn't change how things are going."
True. But here's another sad sports cliché that the Flyers are now suddenly staring in the face as they prepare for tonight's Game 2: a must-win situation.
On the outset, it seems outlandish - especially considering all that this team has accomplished when given no other option but to win. The Flyers were one bounce of the puck away from being swept by the Bruins in overtime last May; they went to the Stanley Cup finals.
Just last round, the Bruins lost the first two games of their series against Montreal at home before rebounding to win in overtime in Game 7.
To say that the Flyers would be cooked if they dropped Game 2 tonight is not an accurate statement. But to say that the Flyers can routinely pull off these magic tricks because they are "just built for it" is just as foolish. They don't have nine lives.
The well of desperation that they have been going to repeatedly since April 11, 2010 - when they skated into the playoffs via shootout victory over the Rangers on the final day of the regular season - does not have an infinite depth. There are only so many times you can test nature. There is a reason why the statistics so heavily favor teams with two- and three-game leads in playoff series.
The Flyers are just 3-13 all-time when trailing 2-0 in any series.
"You start to wonder how many times you can make a change," Boucher was saying yesterday, comparing the Flyers' goaltending situation to their current situation. "[Saturday] we made a goalie change. If it would have held true to form, we would have come back and won that game."
It almost looked like that magic was there, when James van Riemsdyk scored 16 seconds after Sergei Bobrovsky entered.
"Obviously, [it] didn't go that way," Boucher said. "That's what I mean, sometimes it isn't going to make a difference. We don't want it to come to that situation, either. We just want to roll along and have a good start and have great games as we move forward."
Looking back at the tape from Saturday, Peter Laviolette said he found a "lot of things to be revealing," when he reviewed it with his team yesterday during their team meeting.
"But most of it had to do with attitude and competitiveness," Laviolette said.
"We realized how bad we played, how many mistakes we had, how many brain cramps we had," Danny Briere said. "Sometimes, it makes you realize that the effort needs to be at its highest. You can't afford to take it easy and hope that you will still be in the game. We can't just go in the game hoping to win, like we did [Saturday]. We have to believe that we can win."
That's the thing. The Flyers always believe they can win - even if they are in what seems like an insurmountable hole. That should be commended. The only difference is that their perception isn't always reality.
Does that desperation kick in tonight? Because of their success, it seems that the internal panic alarms take longer to go off than on most teams. This time, because of the opponent, because of the history, because of what's at stake, the Bruins are going to be that much more determined to not allow the Flyers an inch of wiggle room.
Just as the Game 1 result doesn't dictate the Game 2 score, the Bruins' logo on their jerseys doesn't dictate that a team will continually roll over.
"Two games at home, you don't want to waste both of them," Briere said. "I think we seem to play better when we are under pressure and forced to find desperation. For some reason, this team seems to play better in those situations. I wish we wouldn't have to go there all the time."
BY THE NUMBERS
0-6: The Flyers' all-time record in Game 1s against Boston. They have won three of the previous five series, though, including the 1974 Stanley Cup final and last year's Eastern Conference semifinal.
2: Assists for Claude Giroux in Game 1, marking the fourth straight game he's had two assists. Giroux leads all playoff skaters with 11 points.
8: Shots apiece for James van Riemsdyk and Mike Richards on Saturday, totaling nearly half of the Flyers' 34 shots. Van Riemsdyk leads all playoff skaters with 51 shots.
9-2: Amount the Flyers have been outscored in the first period in three of their last four playoff games, excluding their Game 7 win over Buffalo.
15-20: The Flyers' all-time record in a series when losing Game 1, including last round against Buffalo.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
David Krejci, Bruins: Krejci, pronounced "crate-gee," was a beast for Boston on Saturday, notching two goals, two assists, four shots, two hits, and one takeaway to go with a plus-3 rating. Krejci broke his hand in Game 3 against the Flyers last year but still managed three points in three games.
Chris Pronger, Flyers: Pronger should not be shouldered with any of the blame from Game 1's blowout loss, even though he was a minus-3. The Flyers seem to play with the same mentality that he brings. His legendary snarl in the corners and in front of the net can be contagious, which is what the Flyers were lacking on Saturday.
"There are things that we need to correct and do better. Especially in Game 2, because we know they are going to be better." - Bruins captain Zdeno Chara