Flying low: Philly must beat Devils to stay alive
Philadelphia, PA, United States (AHN Sports) – It’s not going to be easy for the Philadelphia Flyers when they battle the New Jersey Devils Tuesday in game five of the Eastern Conference Semifinal series.
Trailing 3-1 in the series is hardly enviable. Adversity is everywhere. Along with the fact the Devils are outhustling the Flyers and winning most puck battles, the Flyers will be playing without star Claude Giroux.
The MVP candidate has been suspended for a high head hit on former Flyer Dainius Zubrus in game four of the series. Zubrus has been effectively shadowing Giroux throughout the series.
The Flyers camp is surprised that Giroux, who has a spotless disciplinary record will be watching from the press box tonight. The one-game ban might be enough for a rest of the season suspension if the Flyers don’t turn things around immediately.
Giroux said through a statement issued by the Flyers that he respects the decision and would like to move on. It’s a tough blow for the Flyers.
“We’re just going to try to take this one game a time,” defenseman Kimmo Timonen said. “It’s all we can do.”
Many of the Flyers have been in this situation before. Timonen, defenseman Braydon Coburn and forward Scott Hartnell, among others, were part of the Flyers squad two seasons ago that made its way back from a 3-0 deficit against the Boston Bruins, also in the semifinal round.
The Flyers became one of only four teams in sports to ever rebound from such a dire situation.
“It was an incredible comeback,” winger James van Riemsdyk said. “I think that experience is something to draw from. It’s never over until it’s over. We proved that if you win one game, you can keep going as long as you win that next game.”
The Flyers can’t look ahead to Giroux returning. Not only does the team have to take one game at a time, it has to take one shift at a time. The Devils have been relentless while the Flyers have been primarily passive after winning game one of the series.
It’s odd witnessing how the series has played out since the high-scoring Flyers have been at their best this season when they have been aggressive, particularly with their plethora of talented youngsters, Wayne Simmonds, Jake Voracek and rookies Matt Read and Sean Couturier.
The series the Flyers have played this postseason have been as different as night and day. The Flyers pressured and scored seemingly at will against the favored Pittsburgh Penguins but the defensive-minded Devils have dominated the last three games, all wins for New Jersey.
Can the Flyers solve 40-year old goaltender Martin Brodeur and hold a lead, which has been a problem throughout the series?
“We have to play hard and not make mistakes,” Timonen said. “We have a lot of talent on this team.”
That’s true, even without Giroux. But it’s tough to replace a player, who excels in all situations. The Flyers backs are certainly against the wall and the Devils could stick their pitchforks in them Tuesday.