Sunday, June 6, 2010
The Flyers picked the worst possible time to be off their game when they came out completely flat in a first period that looked like a 20 minute Chicago power play. For a while, the Flyers actually looked like they might weather the Blackhawk storm and get out of the first unscathed but Chicago eventually found their scoring touch and built a 3-0 lead. The Flyers did finally wake up in the second and attempt to make a game out of it but didn't play solid enough in their own end to make another memorable playoff comeback.
Defense, or lack thereof, was the story of the night for the Flyers. While Michael Leighton was run from the game yet again, he really only let in one truly bad goal; the rest of the damage was done due to a number of breakdowns in their own zone. From Braydon Coburn making egregious turnovers to Chris Pronger (-5) playing a truly terrible game, the Flyers defense was exposed early and often in this one. To make things worse for Pronger, his nemesis Dustin Byfuglien finally got going, picking up 2 goals and 2 assists after being basically shut down in the previous 4 games. The one silver lining about Pronger's poor game is that he laid an egg in the Montreal series, putting up a -3 in Game 3, and bounced back to help the Flyers eliminate the Canadiens in quick order. Hopefully he can be the leader in turning the Flyers defense back around.
The goal remains the same for the Flyers after Game 5: they still must knock off the Blackhawks in Chicago. Of course, they also still have to protect their home ice in Game 6 to earn a return trip to Chicago but they have been a solid 9-1 at home so far in the playoffs. As we have learned all playoffs long, the Flyers do well with their backs against the wall, compiling a 4-0 record in games where they have faced elimination. You can bet that Peter Laviolette will make the proper defensive adjustments and that the Flyers will not go out without a fight. This team really seems to thrive when their season is on the line so I'm expecting them to come out with a ton of energy in Game 6; hopefully that energy carries them into a Game 7 and they get another crack at knocking off the Blackhawks in Chicago.
They're down but not out, Flyers fans. If you think they aren't going to fight until the final horn blows and 4 losses are on the board, you haven't been paying attention.