After a six-day layoff between the first and second round, the Flyers' power play has gone from tropical to freezing, from eye-opening to an eyesore.
And while head coach Peter Laviolette downplays the layoff's impact, the power play is clearly out of sync.
"We are definitely not working hard enough on the power play," center Danny Briere said. "It's as simple as that."
The Flyers are 1 for 11 (9.1 percent) on the power play in the first two games of the Eastern Conference semifinals against New Jersey, after going 12 for 23 (52.2 percent) against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the opening round.
The Devils set a post-expansion (after 1967-68) NHL record with an 89.6 percent success rate on the penalty kill in the regular season, but they allowed nine goals on 27 attempts to Florida in the conference quarterfinals.
Forwards Patrik Elias, Zach Parise, Adam Henrique, Danius Zubrus, and Travis Zajac have frustrated the Flyers on the PK. So has the defensive corps led by Anton Volchenkov and Bryce Salvador.
The Flyers were 0 for 5 on the power play Tuesday and managed a total of one shot. Their passing and setup were not nearly as crisp as they were against the Penguins.
"Their skating was better," Laviolette said about the Devils, adding that they took away time and space "quicker than our movement, so we've got to do things faster, I think, on the power play."
"New Jersey is doing a great job," winger Matt Read said. "They are taking away all of our passing lanes. They are keeping us on the half wall."
The Flyers lost the opening faceoff on all five power plays Tuesday, contributing to their ineffectiveness.
Giroux line stifled
The Flyers' top line of Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, and Jaromir Jagr was stopped by the unit centered by rookie Adam Henrique on Tuesday.
"I don't think it was as much of what they did as what we didn't do," Hartnell said.
Hartnell, who appears slowed by an injury, blamed himself.
"I wasn't forechecking. I wasn't hitting. It seemed like my legs weren't moving, and when you don't have a guy on your line going, it's tough to get the other guys going as well," he said. "I have to be better. I have to get emotionally into the game. It felt like it was just too easy for them. It's part of my mold to make it hard for them."
Hartnell said he was "fine," but he has seemed hindered after blocking a first-period shot with his left foot in Game 1.
The Giroux unit had no goals and just four shots Tuesday.
"Our line has to pick it up," Hartnell said. "We have to lead the way for everyone else to follow suit, and it definitely wasn't up to par."
Henrique's line also included Steve Bernier and Alexei Ponikarovsky.
For the last several months, goalie Ilya Bryzgalov has gone from outgoing and engaging to quiet and dull. After Wednesday's practice, he was upbeat and funny in an off-the-cuff session with reporters in which he said he would be an astronaut if he weren't a goalie, and talked about monkeys in space and the Roman Empire, among other topics.
Old Bryz had returned.
The Devils haven't ruled out the possibility of right winger Ilya Kovalchuk returning to the lineup Thursday. He missed Tuesday's game with a lower-back injury.
"I'm sure you're going to see him again in the series," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said in a radio interview with WFAN (660 AM) on Wednesday. "It could be sooner than later."
DeBoer said Kovalchuk was feeling "much better," but he didn't know if the veteran would be available for Thursday. He said the team will see how Kovalchuk feels Thursday morning before deciding whether he will play in Game 3.
In the playoffs, the Flyers are 1-3 when they have scored first, and 4-0 when opponents have scored first. Go figure. . . . The Flyers' 20 shots on Tuesday was their lowest total in their last 22 games, including the regular season.
In eight playoff games, the Flyers have scored four or more goals in each of their five victories. . . . The Devils had a team meeting but did not practice Wednesday.