You've noticed lately a lot of interaction and sharing of information with our SB Nation Philadelphia counterpart, Broad Street Hockey. Travis had an interesting passage in his game preview:
If the [Flyers] put show up to Mellon Arena tonight and put their money where their mouths are -- if they come out with intensity, if they cut back on the penalties, if they play Flyer hockey -- this is a series again. In fact, if they win tonight they eliminate the home ice edge the Pens currently hold and the face of this series is completely changed as we head home to Philadelphia on Sunday.
Those are a lot of ifs, though.
There is a lot of work to be done. They cannot flip a switch and take over the series. Pittsburgh still has the momentum that they have rightfully earned, and the Flyers need to earn the right to take control of it themselves.
He would go on to finish with:
Do it, Flyers. It's time to execute. This is a must win game, no exceptions.
You can feel the desperation, can't you? And for good reason, everyone knows the Flyers laid an egg in Game 1, took stupid penalties and generally got run over.
But Travis makes a good point: as bad as they seemed Wednesday night, if Philly can make their adjustments and steal a Game 2 tonight, they've done their job.
As coaches view things now, the train of thought is to consider a playoff series as a "Race to 4 Wins" rather than a "best of seven games". In a removed fashion, I like to look at it in another way. The first four games go two home and two away, regardless of where the series starts if you can split the away games and then take care of your home ice, just like that you're up 3 games to 1.
Of course, it's a lot easier to type that sentence than actually do it. Last year in the Pens first three series they were able to do just that though; protect home ice and then split one on the road (or flat out sweep). Then you wrap it up in your next home game.
I realize how simple that is and it just glances over all the troubles it takes to accomplish playoff wins and doesn't take into account the momentum shifts that happen from game to game. But that's just a way to look at things.
And even in that train of thought, if the Flyers win tonight, they've done their part to get a split on the road and will have taken the Pens home ice advantage. Further, the Pens would have to go into the rabid Philadelphia atmosphere with the Flyers having some momentum.
Make no mistake about it, the Pens need to win tonight too. Maybe it's not the desperation of a "must-win" scenario, but they have their foot figuratively on the Flyers neck. Time to stomp down and not give them a chance to get back in the series.