PASCAL DUPUIS had no Mark Messier in him. Dupuis, the Penguins' scrappy forward, stopped short of guaranteeing a victory for Pittsburgh in Wednesday night's Game 4.
His words were short and sweet, as the Penguins stare down being swept for the first time in 33 years.
"It won't end like this," Dupuis said.
For the Flyers, the benefits of ousting the pompous Penguins with a handshake on home ice are endless - including handing their hated rival the dubious distinction of being only the second team in the 94-year history of the sport to be swept in the first round following a 50-plus win season.
For the record, the 1993 Bruins (51 wins) are the only team to be ousted in four straight - though that was before shootout wins boosted totals.
A sweep of the odds-on Stanley Cup favorite would give the Flyers a mental and physical edge in the next round.
Somehow, in a black-and-bruised series in which the winner was supposed to limp into the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Flyers could get more than a week of rest if they win Wednesday night.
The playoffs are a war of attrition; 2 complete months of battle for 16 wins. Injuries are a given.
Never mind the thought of falling out of rhythm with those extra days off between series. A sweep would mean three fewer opportunities - in Games 5, 6, and 7 - to navigate around the on-ice land mines that add to the list of walking wounded.
"We don't want to go back to Pittsburgh to take that chance," Max Talbot said on Tuesday. "You want to finish it as fast as you can. It's important to finish it [quick]. You'll have more time to rest. Obviously, you'd be moving on, so that's always a good thing.
"We're going to give everything we can to finish them. That's for sure."
Then, the Flyers can watch the East's other six teams beat one another up. Every other series in the East is guaranteed to go at least five games.
In fact, the Flyers could get James van Riemsdyk and even defenseman Andrej Meszaros back for the start of the second round, depending on how the schedule breaks. Both skated on Tuesday; Meszaros by himself. Van Riemsdyk, who participated in practice Tuesday, said he could play in Game 4 if called upon, but this isn't a desperate time.
"Some mornings are tough to get out of bed," said Jake Voracek, who has only seven career playoff games under his belt. "You can tell it's totally different hockey than the regular season. I'm not that bad [getting up], but I am sure some of those guys are pretty sore. We can win, rest up and get ready for the second round. Or, we can make it hard on ourselves."
History does not tend to be on the Flyers' side for a sweep. There have been only 13 successful sweeps in the 90 series (14 percent) played since the 2004-05 lockout season - only four of those by teams separated by 10 or fewer points in the first round.
The Flyers are 3-7 all-time in Game 4 when leading a series by a 3-0 margin.
Pittsburgh has been swept only twice (1972, 1979) in franchise history. The only other time the Penguins faced a 3-0 deficit, in 1997 against the Flyers, they forced a Game 5 before bowing out.
For the Flyers, who have scored 20 goals in the first three games, advancing to the second round is likely more of "when" than "whether." Only four teams in the history of the three major series sports (MLB, NBA, NHL) have ever rallied from a three-game deficit in a series: the 2010 Flyers, 2004 Boston Red Sox, 1975 New York Islanders and 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs.
Last spring, Detroit and Chicago both clawed back to force a Game 7. Both lost.
"We've got to make sure that we don't give them any breathing room," Voracek said. "Every game you can win in the playoffs is huge, especially [Game 4]."
If the Flyers were to fly back to Pittsburgh for a Game 5 or even Game 7, well, they say they're prepared for any eventuality. Jaromir Jagr, who has averaged less than 14 minutes of ice time per game with all of the penalties and shenanigans, said he feels fresh.
"I was always beaten and spent after the first [three] playoff games," Jagr wrote on his blog at iSport.cz. "But it is different now. It hardly comes to my mind that the playoffs have already come. I believe this can help me, in fact, if our team qualifies for the second round."
"Winning four straight games is like winning the lottery," Nick Grossmann said. "Your body can take more [abuse] than you think. You train all summer, all year for this. That doesn't mean we don't want to win now."