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Orange & Black Breakdown

PHI @ PIT: Game 5 - Believe

This one took a while.

As the madness that was Game 4 unfolded, I found myself in complete awe of what was happening - and not in a furious manner. I was so genuinely blown away by what I was witnessing that I had completely scrapped my desire in the outcome and instead started focusing on trying to figure out what could possibly come next (spoiler alert – it was always a goal).

Here was a Flyers team fresh off two back-to-back 8-goal performances and on the verge of sweeping the seemingly listless Penguins, but getting completely shelled in all aspects of the game. Here was a team that had matched the Penguins power-play tallies up to this point with shorty’s of their own on an endless parade to the box that would ultimately lead to 4 power play goals for the opposition.

Simply put, here was a team that didn’t look like it was on the verge of advancing in the NHL Playoffs.

But hockey doesn’t rely on the aggregate total of goals or just one game to decide the superior team, and the position the Flyers were in on Wednesday has not changed. With just one more win, the Flyers can advance and send Pittsburgh packing. It’s time to treat Game 4 like one of its many pucks and forget about it, because it’s already behind them. They need to believe, because they stand on the verge of the ultimate vindication.

The one constant this series besides offense

Before moving on, I think it is interesting to take a second to try and figure out exactly what happened that allowed Game 4 to get so ugly in order to make it more applicable. Actual gameplay aside, I think a lot of it had to do with the mindset of both team’s heading into the game.

The Flyers were in a position they could not have imagined in their wildest dreams, being up 3-0 against a severely undermanned Pittsburgh squad and playing for the sweep at home. Some might worry about the pressure of finishing it off, but I’m more focused on the sheer madness of how they got there that may have thrown them off a bit.

With such an uncharacteristic edge, the Flyers had no idea what to expect heading into Game 4. They had played Pittsburgh perfectly up to this point by sheer hard work, winning battle after battle in both even strength and special teams, but they were bound to flatten out a bit and doing so during a series of PK’s like the 2nd period on Wednesday will almost always end badly. The loss of Grossmann mid-game can also not be overlooked enough.

Adversely, the Penguins were playing with almost nothing to lose but days of frustration. Everyone had essentially written them off for dead, but with such high expectations just a few days prior you had to expect them to show life EVENTUALLY. The Miracle of life occurred and the offense exploded, continuing to capitalize well after the game was out of hand and the Flyers had mentally checked out. The Flyers realized pretty quickly they didn’t stand much of a chance in that contest and it showed.

Danny Briere has become a playoff folklore

Now, this isn’t an ideal situation for the Flyers. They sit in an interesting position because they are the most recent team to recover from such a deficit, and they did so with Laviolette behind the bench. It has made a comeback like this more feasible in the eyes of those who remember it happening. This memory, coupled with the now deafening notion that Pittsburgh is somehow back in this series due to their talent is sure to be prevalent in the forefront of their thoughts, and can lead to a team lacking confidence and thus playing scared hockey. They need to believe they’ve earned their lead; otherwise they’ll constantly be playing from behind.

But here’s the thing: they HAVE earned it. They earned that right to bottom out in tremendous fashion by going up 3-0 in the series in the first place, and they still stand in commanding lead because of this. Having been there before, the Flyers should know what to expect heading into tonight and be prepared to overcome it. If they get back to believing they’ll get back on track. And there is no better place and time to revitalize that belief than the Flyers home away from home in the Keystone state with JVR back in the mix.

This has been a rather lengthy preview to be devoid of actual hockey game planning for Game 5, but what’s the point of even speculating how this one will go when you look at how unpredictable the games have been thus far. I can spend hours talking about the defensive corrections both teams need to make, but this one can just as easily end up 10-9 again and I bet no one would be surprised. So what will it take to win this game for the Flyers?

Good, old-fashioned hard work. They win this game if they get back to winning the puck battles that vaulted them to three victories in the first place. But most importantly, they’ll win this game if they believe they should, because they stand in the position to dictate the play. Sometimes it’s not about how you get there, it’s just about getting there: this is definitely one of those times.

The Flyers make a welcome change to their line-up tonight: Hello JVR

The Flyers need to believe they are the best team in this series. Every second of doubt is another opportunity for Pittsburgh to seize that belief from their fingertips. They need to believe that losing this game is not an option, because the playoffs won’t settle for anything less than the best. They’ve played their asses off to take control of the series; it will take a similar kind of effort to finish it off tonight in Pittsburgh.

Continue the discussion with us on twitter (@marcs797 and @thevintern), email (theobbreakdown@gmail.com), or in the comments below

Lets Go Flyers!


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About Orange & Black Breakdown

The Orange & Black Breakdown looks to be the ultimate, around the clock source for news and information on the Philadelphia Flyers organization and it’s ever-present quest for the Stanley Cup. Focusing on what the team can do to achieve success is the ultimate goal.

The OBB is written and maintained by myself - Marc Siciliano. I’m a college graduate and media production professional in the sports industry with credits on projects like Hard Knocks: Bengals and 24/7 Penguins vs. Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic. A man of many hobbies, I always seem to find a way to spend a disproportionate amount of my daily routine with two things: Flyers hockey and social media (much to the dismay of my hockey impartial friends on twitter).

So what does this mean for you? The plan is to combine these time-wasting habits passions with my love for writing to provide you with complete coverage of the Flyers from both my head and around the web, 24/7.

This is my second writing stint focusing on the Flyers, but for a much larger audience - so do be gentle. Different perspectives and opinions on the organization are welcome and encouraged. Just because I see it one way doesn’t mean I’m beyond seeing it your way as well, so speak up!

I’m always interested in interacting with readers, so find me on twitter (@marcs797) or email me (theobbreakdown@gmail.com) and let’s talk hockey.

Thanks for reading; Lets go Flyers!