Better With Popcorn

Flyers Vs. Devils, ECSF Game 3: The Time For Excuses Is Over

There is a laundry list of reasons given when a team doesn’t perform well: tension in the locker room, injuries, a lack of jump, so on and so forth. The team vows that they’ll play better next time, that they’ll keep working at it, and they’ll be just fine.

That’s a vow the Flyers are going to need to keep in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, after dropping two games in a row to the New Jersey Devils and falling a game behind in the series.

A one-game deficit might not sound like that big of an issue, but with the way the Flyers have played over the last two games, tying the series up seems like a much more daunting task than it usually might. 

There have been slow starts, lapses in communication, weak goals allowed, and defensive breakdowns – things that the team has been dealing with all season. After 91 games, it’s about time that they figure out a solution to those issues.

At times, there have been flashes of greatness. Danny Briere’s playoff heroics have come back in full force, Ilya Bryzgalov has made some very good saves and kept his team in the game at different points, and Claude Giroux’s aggressiveness and talent has led to scoring chances and dazzling goals of his own.

But those times have been few and far between in these last two games, and the Flyers need to re-establish their dominance. Right now, the Devils are looking like the better team, and the pressure is on the Flyers to get themselves back in it.

Some of the Flyers players have admitted that they entered into this series thinking it was going to be an easy ride. They must not have realized that the Devils ended the season just one point behind them in the standings.

The Devils are a good hockey team, and they need to be approached as such. When the Flyers are playing up to their full potential, they can perform well against New Jersey and beat them. They’re not doing that right now.

So who needs to step up? Well, at this point, everyone does. But it starts at the top.

Claude Giroux, who is considered the team’s de facto captain at this point, admitted that he needs to do more. He’s right, but he’s not the only one.

The forwards need to play harder and crash the net more. James van Riemsdyk has looked great so far in these playoffs, and he’s one of the players that is most effective when he’s crashing the net. He needs to do more of that, and his teammates need to follow suit.

The defense needs to be stronger and tighter. They need to do a better job of covering the Devils players and keeping them out of the Flyers’ zone.

And Bryzgalov needs to buckle down and revert to his March form. Not all of the goals allowed in this series have been his fault, but those that have been were just weak goals that should have easily been stopped. Whatever was working for him back in March, he needs to get that back.

The team needs to be better, period. Come out strong in the first and maintain that momentum, eliminate turnovers, be more aggressive, and just play hard.

They don’t need to jump through hoops to beat this Devils team; they did it three times this season and in Game 1 of the series. They just need to get back to their style of hockey and play a full 60 minutes.

It’s been a mantra for the majority of the season, but it may mean more for Game 4 than any other.


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