VOORHEES, N.J. – It’s one thing to make history by doing something only three teams had done in 100 years of National Hockey League play.
It’s quite another to maintain any sort of momentum from that feat.
The Flyers bounced back from a 7-0 loss in Game 1 against Pittsburgh with a 5-1 victory in Game 2.
That trio of aforementioned teams – Montreal, 1919; Boston, 1953; Los Angeles, 1970 – which recovered from a seven-goal-or more loss to win Game 2 didn’t have to deal with all the pressure which players have to today.
So the Flyers squared the best-of-seven series vs. the Penguins at 1-1.
But now they have to come back to the cozy confines of the Wells Fargo Center on Sunday afternoon and try to gain an upper hand in this Stanley Cup playoff preliminary round battle.
It won’t be easy.
While the Flyers entered the series with a record of 12-5-2 since the opening of PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, they were only 7-7-1 at WFC.
This 3 p.m. game promises to have a circus-like atmosphere, with national TV (NBC) coverage and a sold-out building raising the roof with noise.
The key for the Flyers might be maintaining the discipline they showed in the win on Friday night in the Steel City.
Question is: Will the Flyers’ kids — like Nolan Patrick, Oskar Lindblom, Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim – be able to keep from getting caught up in the emotion of the moment?
Captain Claude Giroux hopes that is the case.
“I remember my first playoff game here in Philly,’’ Giroux recalled after Saturday’s optional practice at the Skate Zone. “It’s pretty hard core, it’s pretty wild. It’s a good time.
“So you have to be able to take it all in and at the same time remember there’s a hockey game here and do the right things.’’
After completing two regular seasons, Konecny believes he can keep his emotions in check, although he did get a little feisty in Game 2 and took a questionable penalty.
“We have to make sure we channel our energy the right way,’’ Konecny agreed. “Not too high, not too low.
“We’ve talked about it already. It’s just a matter of finding that middle ground. Come in and be excited and use the fans to your advantage but not get too out of hand, running around and wasting a lot of energy early in the game.’’
Sean Couturier played his first playoff game at age 18 (against the Penguins no less) in 2012. He knows the Flyers can’t afford to get out of control against a team as talented as Pittsburgh.
“We’re a young team and sometimes you try to put a show on (in front of the home fans) and look good,’’ he remarked. “Sometimes less is more. There’s maybe pressure from the fans but inside our room we have to do what we have to do and play our game.’’
No discipline for Giroux
There was talk that Giroux might receive a suspension for his unusual “collision’’ with Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang in Game 2 but nothing came of it from the NHL office.
Giroux fell backwards into Letang, knocking him to the ice and leaving him temporarily dazed.
“I didn’t hear anything (from the NHL),’’ a relieved Giroux said. “Like I said yesterday, everything happened quick. I saw him last minute, I braced myself, it didn’t look very good but I’m glad he came back.’’