Sunday, April 17, 2011
Posted: 2:40 p.m.
By Tim Panaccio
Peter Laviolettes Flyers won 25 road games this season the most in franchise history.
So it probably goes without saying that traveling to Buffalo for Games 3 and 4 of this Eastern Conference quarterfinal playoff series is no big deal.
Just another road trip.
Its about consistency in the game and not so much the building or place you are at, said coach Peter Laviolette. We have a good group in here. I think the road is a place where it can be more difficult to win.
Buffalo will present challenges. They have a loud building just like we had here. We have to be ready for that. We know its coming.
The Flyers played well in Buffalo this year. Theres no reason to think that would change in the playoffs on Monday.
Part of that is because you look at the forwards and the defense and theres not a lot of bad matchups, Sean ODonnell said.
On the road, a lot of times, it comes down to who you have against who. No matter what happens out there, there is no real weakness, where if we dont get the matchup we want, oh my God, the Flyers have to get those guys off the ice.
Were pretty good at doing that. We seem to play more patient on the road, whereas maybe at home were too revved up. Were very confident on the road.
Its only Game 3, but the Flyers dont want to give the Sabres any cause to think theyre in the drivers seat. In fact, they need to take something back from Buffalo home ice.
Game 3 is a big game, ODonnell said. They took home ice from us and we want to get that back quickly. We like the way we play on the road. We dont want to go down 2-1.
So we feel like going into the Buffalo game, theres a lot of desperation. We know what they are going to be like in front of their home fans. Sometimes, that is an advantage and sometimes its not. You tend to come out a little too jacked up and you run around a bit.
Andreas Nodl suffered a nasty cut under his right eye in Game 2. He is questionable for Game 3.
This appears to be the chance for Laviolette to re-insert Nikolay Zherdev into the lineup. Zherdev often gives the Flyers an immediate jolt when he comes off the bench into the lineup, like he did in early April.
It just doesnt last even though he played well down the stretch.
When he came in last he had lot of pop right away and the first couple games back, he had an impact, Laviolette said.
The puck was on his stick a lot. He scored some power play goals in Ottawa. Even 5-on-5 in the New Jersey game. In New Jersey, the puck was on his stick a lot. He seems to have possession time and making plays.
As previously reported over the weekend, Chris Pronger wont be available for Game 3, although he made the trip to Buffalo.
Pronger said he would not be giving any interviews until he plays a game but even that is beginning to seem like a no-go.
On March 14, the Flyers announced that a CT scan had detected a small bone fracture in Prongers right hand. He under went surgery the next day in Cleveland and was to miss 3-4 weeks.
Pronger returned to the ice for practice on his own and even at morning skates with the team and began shooting pucks. When the Flyers were in Pittsburgh in late March, he reinjured the hand shooting.
On March 31, general manager Paul Holmgren announced that Pronger had suffered a setback and would not be available until the playoffs.
That was 17 days ago and hes still not shooting.
Buffalo defenseman Chris Butler, who has all of two playoff games for experience to draw on, was on the ice for 27:08 in Game 2 more than any player on either roster.
Butler logged 8:17 of penalty kill time. The Flyers had 10 power plays.
Yeah, thats a very dangerous power play, Butler said. I dont know what their percentage was during the season but we had a difficult time with them during the regular season and they put up a lot of goals.
They have a number of skilled players that make a lot of good reads and a lot of good plays. We look at the one that we gave up, it bounced off of Webby Mike Weber there and it was just kind of an unfortunate break. Overall, I think our penalty kill did a pretty good job.
A number of Sabre players along with coach Lindy Ruff said they need to better keep their emotions in check for Game 3.
It's something that we need to work on, we cant be taking extra roughing minors and little extra things like that, putting guys down, Butler said, referring to things such as Paul Gaustad taking down Danny Briere in a faceoff circle, though it wasnt called but triggered a barrage of penalties that followed.
That keeps a lot of guys off the ice, guys cant get into a groove when we are killing penalties that much.
Jason Pominville agreed.
Its definitely tough, in the playoffs, it takes rhythm out of everybody and the penalty killers had a lot of stop and starts and the guys that arent on the penalty kill are sitting on the bench and not really doing much, he said.
So, its definitely tough on everybody but I thought our penalty kill did a good job, kept us in there and limited there opportunities. Its been two games in a row where our penalty kill isnt to blame.
According to Elias, the last time the Flyers had 10 power plays in a game was Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against these same Buffalo Sabres in 1998 on April 24. Flyers also went 1 for 10 that night, as they did on Saturday. Flyers are 1 for 15 in the series on the power play.
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