If Pens keep cool, Flyers are toast
They coughed up a pair of one-goal leads and allowed their first short-handed goal of the postseason in Game 2 against Philadelphia.
But from defenseman Brooks Orpik's perspective, it'll be incumbent upon the Penguins to play smarter rather than better tonight in Game 3.
"We played right into their hands," Orpik said after the Pens' 3-2 triumph in Game 2.
What Orpik was referencing was the very thing he had preached against prior to the outset of the Eastern Conference final -- being sucked into the Flyers' game.
"The first two periods were just stupid," Orpik continued. "They wanted to slow the pace down, and obviously the way to do that is just start scrums after the whistle. That's what they were doing, and we were playing right into it instead of just skating away.
"We're a speed team, the fewer whistles the better for us. We keep rolling the lines over, especially when they're short on guys and their defensemen are having a tough time with our forwards. They slow it down and it just gives them more rest, the guys on the bench and the guys on the ice."
Orpik and the Pens can expect a full-court press of post-whistle shenanigans tonight in Philly, and they know it.
"Especially in their building, they're just going to start doing more and more of it," Orpik said.
How could they not?
Most likely even the Flyers have figured out by now it's the only way they can win this series.
And even if they haven't, it's the Flyers' nature, especially at home and in desperation mode after having dropped the first two games.
The matchups won't matter, even with Flyers coach John Stevens having the last change at home.
What'll matter is the Penguins having the discipline to skate away when the circus act commences.
That and the Penguins maintaining focus better than they did in Game 2.
"We got caught up in the refereeing, too," Orpik said. "The referees aren't going to be perfect and we're sitting there the whole second period just yelling at the referees; we're not even worried about playing the game.
"Some of the penalty calls, every offside, every icing, we had something to say. You lose your focus and you get caught up in that stuff, it's a little discouraging."
What's encouraging is the problem has been recognized and dealt with in an appropriate fashion.
Orpik said the extraneous yapping was discussed between periods two and three Sunday night, and that, as a result, "in the third period we got around to playing."
More encouraging still is how inept the Flyers have appeared when trying to generate a breakout.
Their depleted defensive corps and continued reliance on long passes into the neutral zone have provided no answers for the trap the Pens have consistently sprung on Philadelphia.
The trap has produced turnovers and control of the series for the Pens.
The Flyers will rely on a trap of a different kind tonight, as they tried in Game 2.
Should the Pens avoid succumbing to it better than they did for 40 minutes on Sunday, they'll have a chance to polish Philly off before another Sunday session at Mellon Arena is necessary.
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