Even after getting their nose bloodied in a 5-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Center on Thursday in game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Flyers have reason to be optimistic about a turn around in game 4.
And that reason is easy — they are not happy.
“It’s one game. They caught up to us,” said tight-lipped Flyers coach Peter Laviolette, whose team still leads the series 2-1. “We will be better next game.”
In a role reversal from games 1 and 2 in Philadelphia, the Canadiens took the early lead then doubled it with first period goals from Mike Cammalleri and Tom Pyatt. From that point forward, the Flyers were never in the contest.
“From my experience, it’s never about momentum, it’s all about desperation,” Laviolette said. “Desperate teams are tough teams.”
Hinting that his team didn’t match Montreal’s intensity, Laviolette barely fought off his urge to give one-word answers. On the other hand, Flyers captain Mike Richards had lots to say.
“It was a good ole’ fashioned ass kicking and they handed it to us right from the get-go,” said Richards. “I didn’t know if we thought we’d show up and throw our sticks on the ice and it was going to be easy.
“It’s my responsibility being the leader and the captain of this team that we were not ready to play. It’s got to change, and obviously, in a hurry.”
The Flyers showed some fire midway through the third period when Simon Gagne ended Jaroslav Halak’s shut out with a goal from the slot, making the score 4-1 Habs.
But instead of let the time run out and allow the listless and beaten Flyers to drift into the Montreal night, Canadiens blue liner Jaroslav Spacek decided to apply some rougher-than-usual stick work on Flyers forward Danny Briere. Noticing the bullying of Briere, Richards quickly came to the rescue and a melee ensued. Eventually, Roman Hamrlik and Flyers Scott Hartnell dropped the gloves with Hartnell winning the decision.
If the Flyers want to have success on Saturday in game 4, they will need to harness the anger they displayed at the end of and immediately following the embarrassing defeat. And with the experience and steadfast resolve they showed thus far in the post season, there is no reason not to believe that the Flyers will make game 4 an all out war.