Flyers' new approach fails
Two games. Two different styles. And neither has worked for the Philadelphia Flyers as they find themselves down, 2-0, to the Penguins in the Eastern Conference final.
After using a run-and-gun style against the Penguins to no avail in Game 1, the Flyers attempted to be the more physical team in Game 2. All that did was lead to nine minor penalties that gave the Penguins six power-play opportunities against their depleted defense.
Not surprising, the Penguins scored a pair of power-play goals -- and gave up a shorthanded tally to Mike Richards -- on their way to a 4-2 victory at Mellon Arena.
"We were shorthanded most of the first period, and you know that's how it's going to be against this team," Flyers forward Joffrey Lupul said. "They're going to get more power plays than us. That's just the way it is. They're the Pittsburgh Penguins, and we're just going to have to find a way to kill these penalties and get our chances."
Not only were the Flyers taking penalties in the first period -- five, including a fighting major to Scottie Upshall for a middleweight bout with Penguins forward Tyler Kennedy -- but they also lost defenseman Braydon Coburn at 1:51 when he was struck just above the left eye with a puck and left the game.
"My left eye is swollen shut right now," Coburn said. "I will keep the ice on it and get the swelling down and see what happens (today)."
Coburn could play in Game 3 Tuesday at Wachovia Center, but losing him so early was a logistical nightmare, as the Flyers were down to five defensemen, all of whom were averaging at least three fewer minutes a game.
"It's tough," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "Coby's an all-situations player for us. I thought we got big contributions from all of them. I thought we got better play tonight than we did the game before. I thought they stepped up and played (well)."
Coburn was only the latest casualty to an already banged-up defensive corps. Philadelphia learned Thursday, the day before Game 1 of the series, that it would be without its top blue-liner, Kimmo Timonen, because of a blood clot in his foot.
Minus Timonen, the Flyers knew they would struggle at times without his ability to shut down the opponent's best forwards and his skill on the power play. Losing him also took away a player who logged a team-high 24 minutes, 55 seconds per game.
Philadelphia redistributed much of that time throughout the lineup and was successful in Game 1, as three defensemen were on the ice for more than 20 minutes.
What became a problem for the Flyers in Game 2 was that Coburn left the game after only two shifts and 1:07 on the ice. Coburn came in averaging 24:03 per game - second only to Timonen - and led the team with 25:09 in Game 1.
"I thought our defense did a great job," Lupul said. "The rest of the guys really stepped up and they played well. Some of the guys came from out of the lineup and did an excellent job, and other guys have gotten their minutes bumped up and they're doing well, too."
When Timonen went down, Jaroslav Modry took his place in the lineup and admirably filled Timonen's spot on the man-advantage, assisting on Jeff Carter's second period power-play goal. Now, with the possibility of being without Timonen and Coburn, the Flyers are running out of defensive options ... and game plans.
"That's the game of hockey, and it's a game of opportunities," Modry said. "Someone else needs to step up. We've got lots of leaders in this room and we've got to find a way to win games."
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