If there is one intangible the Flyers have in Game 6 even though they are behind in their playoff series with the New York Rangers, it’s this: The Rangers are very cognizant they had to play three Game 7s over the past two playoffs. And despite their dominance over the Flyers at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers don't want to play another Game 7 on Wednesday night.
“You have to match their intensity,” Rangers center Derek Stepan said. “You have to match their desperation, and that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned in my short playoff career. You have to make sure that you come out with the same intensity as they have or even up your level.
“You don’t want to push to a Game 7. Our main focus is getting ourselves ready for Game 6 and doing the things we did for the ones we were successful in the first five [games].”
The Flyers' focus Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center will be about aggressiveness and initiating, instead of reacting, to what the Rangers are doing.
Aggressiveness with the puck is pivotal if the Flyers are going to force a Game 7. And so far, they’ve been woefully lacking in that department.
“No reason [for it],” Wayne Simmonds said. “We've got to be more aggressive. Be better. We can’t be scared out there. We have to go out there to win.”
Simmonds is always blunt. He feels the Rangers have been more aggressive in attacking with confidence while the Flyers have been tepid, at times concerned about being beaten in overloads.
Coach Craig Berube said it has shown just in the poor shot selection from the outside on goalie Henrik Lundqvist, which hasn’t yielded rebounds.
Better shots from the hard traffic areas will result in better scoring chances but also expose a team to quick counters up the middle.
The Flyers, at times in this series, have seemed wary of the Rangers’ impressive speed, especially off the counter attack.
“Maybe a little bit too cautious,” Berube said. “Maybe thinking a little bit and don’t want to make a mistake. Speed can do that to you sometimes. We need to counteract that.”
Defenseman Kimmo Timonen didn’t have a single shot in Game 5. Then again, the Flyers' entire defense was in full retreat most the game.
“We have to be more aggressive,” Timonen said. “We have to get more shots and when we are more aggressive, we create more turnovers. We score more. We get more shots on the net. It comes down to being more aggressive.
“Sometimes you sit back a little too much and you give too much room for the other team. That’s not really our game. Our game is skating and forechecking hard and being aggressive. To me, tomorrow we’re gonna be home and we have to play our game.
“It doesn’t matter what they do. Sometimes you worry way too much about what they do and how many shots they block. Who cares? Just go out there and do your job and you’ll be fine.”
The Flyers have done a poor job attacking Lundqvist and making him work hard for the three wins New York has thus far. They’ve made it easy on him by not generating traffic or rebounds.
“We’ve got to get more shots,” Timonen said. “Like, 22 shots per game, that’s not enough. We talk about them blocking shots … it’s our job to find the lanes to the net. They do a good job, but who cares?
“We have to give them credit. They play a hard game. They play defense hard. They’ve got five guys on you hard. They skate hard. They’re a fast team. Still, the whole year we didn’t care who we played against. It shouldn’t change in the playoffs.”
What has to change, Berube said, is the Flyers' mental approach in an elimination game.
“We need five guys on the ice with more of a killer instinct right now,” Berube said. “They’re a fast team.”
The Rangers speed has taken time and space away from the Flyers. Just ask Claude Giroux. He, Simmonds and Scott Hartnell have been reduced to non-factors in the series from an offensive standpoint in terms of generating scoring chances and goals.
“I think it’s just a mindset more than anything,” Berube said. “From the start of the game, we really need to skate and attack and be an aggressive team.
“Like I said [Sunday], if we execute in the first period and we have a little better mindset, who knows what happens in that game?”
If it doesn’t change for the Flyers on Tuesday, they’ll be wondering about it all summer.