VOORHEES, N.J. -- If the Flyers are able to win one more game on Wednesday night, everything changes.
With one more victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Flyers escape the Eastern Conference quarterfinals unscathed. They move on to the next round of the playoffs having completely demolished the team that so many experts assumed would be fighting for the Stanley Cup come June they move on having made a big statement to the rest of the NHL.
The Flyers have been under immense scrutiny since this series kicked off a week ago, but they now face a different kind of pressure as they seek to close it out with a sweep of their cross-state rivals. For whatever reason, those fourth victories always seem to be the hardest to achieve.
Yes, the consequences might be big for the Flyers on Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center, but the teams approach to Game 4 will be just like their approach to the three that preceded it.
Its another game, Nicklas Grossmann said. We cant lose track of the way we want to play or the way weve been trying to play the whole series. Play hard, for each other. Play Flyers hockey. Thats what its all about.
Certainly, no one expected the Flyers would roll over the Penguins the way they have so far, especially after the way the first period of the series first game went. Even some of the players have expressed surprise at the outcomes of the last three games.
But when it comes to preparing for Game 4, the mantra remains the same: Start strong. Be disciplined. Worry only about yourself. Play Flyers hockey.
Things have been going well, so why switch our approach? Sean Couturier said. Ive personally been keeping the same approach and things have been going well, so Im not going to change it.
The Flyers expect much of the same from the Penguins that theyve seen over the past three games, as well. The same but, perhaps, ramped up. After all, the Flyers have a couple of chances to notch their last win in the series. With one more loss, the Pens will be headed for the golf course and the long summer that comes with it.
The Penguins lineup might look a bit different come Game 4, but theyll still have Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang. Theyll still be a desperate, angry team.
Just keep doing the same things, Brayden Schenn said. You know theyre going to come out hungry and ready and obviously going to be really competitive off the get-go. So weve got to be ready for whatever they throw at us.
If theres a team prepared to remain focused on the task at hand, its this years Flyers. All season long, coach Peter Laviolette has done a very good job of making sure his players follow his lead and refuse to get ahead of themselves. Laviolette wont ever discuss plans for a game in the future, instead electing to talk only about tonights game or his plans for the next game.
The sentiment was the same for the players after practice Tuesday afternoon at Skate Zone.
Were trying to still focus on one game at a time, Couturier said. And tomorrow is a new day, a new game. Well have to be ready.
Being able to off the Penguins in four games would be a huge boost to the momentum the Flyers have already begun to compile. It would be more than that, too it would enable players like James van Riemsdyk and Andrej Meszaros to make progress on returning from injuries.
But, like questions about a potential second-round opponent, the benefits of sweeping the series will have to wait to be discussed. For now, the focus is simply on winning Game 4.
We want to win every game, Braydon Coburn said. Going in, thats the goal. Thats what were trying to do.
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