According to the Boston Globe, Philadelphia Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette said he felt all the pressure has now shifted to the Boston Bruins in their second-round playoffs series against the Flyers after winning two games in Philadelphia. The coach believes that now the Bruins have the pressure on them to close out the series, something they were unable to do just a season ago against these same Flyers, when they relinquished a 3-0 series lead and lost in Game 7.
“When you lose your first two games in your home building, I would say there’s a real expectation for the Bruins to win the series now,” said the Boston native. “So it relieves us of the pressure, I believe, a little bit to just go in and play a game in Boston. And while it relieves us of the pressure, it certainly mounts on them to be successful now that they have a 2-0 lead.”
Some truth to those statements, but also a bit of fallacy. There is some pressure, enhance by last season’s catastrophic collapse to the Flyers, on the Bruins close the series out. The Bruins aren’t playing with house-money in the playoffs. They’re a top-team in the East and had great expectations for this season.
Boston failed to win two playoff series in the same season since the early 1990s, and another early summer after a strong regular season could spell doom for Claude Julien.
The Flyers still have more pressure than their Beantown counterparts. They were the top-dog in the NHL’s Easter Conference throughout most of the season until the final weeks when the Washington Capitals up-ended Philadelphia to takeover the top-spot. The Flyers were picked by many to compete for the Stanley Cup this June. A second-round exit, whether it be in four games or seven, is just not an viable option for a team with such star power.
Philadelphia has clearly showed holes in their lineup, most glaring of which coming in net with the merry-go-round of goaltending by committee that would make Mike Keenan scratch his head. But with as deep a lineup as they have, the results must be better.
It is a smart move instilled here by Laviolette, and isn’t uncommon for coaches to try to differ some of the pressure off their players to other targets. Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau used these same tactics in the first-round against the New York Rangers after his team lost Game 3. He pointed a finger at everything from the referees to the benches and locker rooms at Madison Square Garden. The result? The Capitals responded and overcame a 3-0 third period deficit in Game 4 en route to a double-overtime victory. They followed it up with a statement victory over the Blueshirts in Game 5 to wrap up the series 4-1.
The Flyers are by no-means dead in the water, as evidence from 12 months ago. It is a smart move by a head coach clearly feeling the pressure of a blood-thirsty town that hasn’t won a championship since 1975. Anything to calm his players down at this stage of the season will only help his cause. Interesting to see, though, who the pressure will fall on if the Flyers find themselves down 3-0 after Game 3 in Boston.
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