Flyers vs. Devils, Eastern Conference Semifinals: Flyers Must Work Harder
After Flyers practice Wednesday, Claude Giroux minced no words on his line and the team’s Game 2 performance.
"We didn’t play hard.…we need to play harder….be hard on [New Jersey]….we want to be a team that works hard….outworked….lost battles….didn’t have jump….”
In just 1:53 of media availability posted to the team’s website, Giroux made the Flyers shortcomings quite clear.
They didn’t work hard enough.
It seems perplexing. A team in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs came out in a rowdy home environment and….didn’t work hard enough?
To those who watched the 4-1 Devils victory, the admission of being outworked came as little surprise. The Flyers were outshot early and often. Their vaunted power play didn’t register a shot until the fifth man advantage.
It’s been seen once before this postseason from the Eastern Conference’s fifth seed. In Game 4 against Pittsburgh, the team was beaten thoroughly on the ice and scoreboard, 10-3.
Then, the concerns of a young team finding success at every turn in the first three games seemed explanation enough. Perhaps they rested on their laurels thinking the end result would come out black and orange regardless.
After a Game 5 loss in which the team looked much better (not that they could look worse), Philadelphia seemed to be back on track. They swiftly ended Sidney Crosby and company’s season in the next contest.
That series had different dynamics, as each individual series will in these playoffs. Then, the Flyers had boatloads of house money to throw on the table. Pittsburgh came into the postseason as the odds-on favorite to hoist the Cup.
With a young team that had little regard for its cross-state rivals, nothing to lose was a motivating factor. After each game, the pundits wondered what had happened to Pittsburgh rather than what Philadelphia was doing right.
This series has the feel of a complete different animal. Here, the Flyers are the favorite. To some, they’ve earned the distinction of the new favorites to do the hoisting.
In Game 1, Philadelphia overcame what was tabbed as ‘rust’ to defeat New Jersey in overtime. Even then, they had chances to put the Devils away and instead, they let their Atlantic Division rivals come back.
Game 2 had the feel of a team that took a great exhale. New Jersey’s urgency to grasp new breath was enough to make the Flyers look hapless.
The playoffs will offer moments of reservation and complacency. A young team that is seemingly on top of the world can feel mighty good about itself. Reality checks remind them that nothing is easy in the elimination rounds.
Hopefully for the sake of Philadelphia, the realistic thud felt in Game 2 will serve as motivation moving forward. If they can regain their footing and wipe the slate clean, perhaps they will show why they were the heavy favorites in the series.
If they don’t, New Jersey will be more than happy to continue the gritty play that helped it steal home ice advantage away.
The momentum of the playoffs sits in every save, every shift, and every bounce of the puck. How do the Flyers get that momentum back on their sides?
Have jump, play harder, win puck battles, and outwork the Devils.
Simple enough, right?
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