Flyers can't keep up the pace in playoff loss to Penguins

| Thursday, April 19, 2012

PHILADELPHIA — A 3-1 lead in a best-of-7 playoff series against the Stanley Cup favorites would have pleased the Philadelphia Flyers a week ago.

It still does, winger Jaromir Jagr said Wednesday night after a 10-3 loss to the Penguins in Game 4 of Round 1.

However, there is one issue that might prevent the Flyers from wrapping up this series on Friday when it returns to Consol Energy Center.

Surprise, surprise — that issue is not goaltending, though starter Ilya Bryzgalov's 17 goals allowed on 109 shots hardly has provoked looks of confidence from his teammates.

That issue is composure. The Flyers appeared to possess no shortage of it until this drubbing, but they were penalized 16 times in Game 4 and their mistakes with — and away from — the puck at least doubled that total.

"It's embarrassing," Flyers center Claude Giroux said. "It won't happen again."

The Penguins went 4 for 9 on the power play, as the Flyers steadfastly refused to display any discipline in what was an elimination game for their opponent. Players said they were told before the game that referees would call a tight contest because Games 1-3 were "a circus," Jagr said.

"There were a couple of penalties I thought they should have let go," Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen said. "But it wasn't (officiating), it was us."

He also said the Flyers' overall defensive lapses — nine giveaways, only 42 percent on faceoffs — were an issue to be addressed at practice today.

Timonen did not place the blame for the Flyers' 22 goals surrendered through four games on Bryzgalov, who was yanked from Game 4 early in the second period after allowing five goals on 18 shots. Backup goalie Sergei Bobrovsky also let in five goals.

"Generally speaking, we all need to be better at what we do. But he needed to come out of that situation," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said about Bryzgalov. "So, I changed it up, tried to shake the tree a little bit."

This was not the performance Laviolette wanted from his players, who conceded there is danger in letting up against an opponent with 11 regulars from the 2009 Stanley Cup squad on its roster.

"They're too good," Jagr said. "They've got so many guys that can score so many goals. They're not just going to give it to us. We have to try to take it from them."

Circumstances still favor the Flyers in the series. Only three clubs in NHL history have lost a series after holding a 3-0 edge.

Still, as the Penguins kept posting goals in Game 4, the mass of once frenzied orange-clad fans at Wells Fargo Center grew quiet.

The fans, like Giroux, were aware the Penguins had amassed regular-season winning streaks of five, eight and 11 games. The Flyers had two days between Games 3 and 4, two days to listen as the hockey world praised them and buried the Penguins.

Nothing was going right for the Penguins. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury had been busted for 17 goals. Presumptive league MVP and NHL scoring leader Evgeni Malkin had been held without one. The Penguins also had three players suspended for Game 4, including 40-goal scorer James Neal.

The Flyers were the favorites as of Wednesday, and as did the Penguins before them, they proved fantastic failures at handling that pressure. At least the Flyers know they can take a punch, so this walloping shouldn't stagger them heading into Friday.

"It was one of those wild games," Bryzgalov said. "We didn't expect to lose like that."

The Flyers can only hope Game 4 represented a simple "off" day, and not the turning point of a series that before last night they had all but locked down.

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