Sunday, April 20, 2008

Is the pressure now on the Flyers?

Capitals 3, Flyers 2

I've never really been one to believe that a young team needs to "learn" how to win playoffs games. After all, a team is playing the same sport they've played countless hours in their lives to that point and although playoffs games do have a different feel, one would expect the players to be prepared for them given how much the players do know about hockey. Yet it seems that almost every year a young, talented team fails to live up to its promise in the postseason.

Thus far this year it has been the Washington Capitals, who dropped three straight to the Philadelphia Flyers after a comeback victory in the first game of the series between the two teams. The Capitals do appear to be learning however: they played much better in Game 4 than in Game 3, and better in Game 5 than in Game 4. Given the Capitals' impressive run to end the season and the fact that they seem to be finding their groove the question is: is the pressure now on the Flyers?

After all, the orange and black missed their first opportunity to close out the series on Saturday afternoon when they let the Capitals come out and dictate the flow of play. Game 6 is going to be the Flyers best chance to close out the Capitals because if they lose the Capitals going in to a Game 7 at home, with momentum. While the Flyers do have the home ice advantage, the home ice advantage comes with pressure; pressure not just to win but to win in style and to please the crowd (especially in Philadelphia where fans can be...unforgiving to say the least). The Flyer faithful love their team's Broad Street Bullies persona and that, coupled with the fact that Capitals controlled the physical play on Saturday, means the Flyers have the potential to put themselves on the penalty kill both early and often. Playing against a Capitals team that's clicking on the powerplay for the first time this postseason the Flyers could be down and out if they succumb to the pressure of trying to close out the series at home and become undisciplined.

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