Flyers Can No Longer Settle for Split with Penguins: A Fan’s Preview

The Philadelphia Flyers had some modest goals before starting their Stanley Cup playoff series with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Although Flyers fans like myself want them to win every single game, we figured it was more realistic to aim for a split of Games 1 and 2 in Pittsburgh. But after the events of April 11, that can't be enough right now.

The Flyers barely looked capable of winning one game in this series for the first 25 minutes of Game 1. Yet after their stunning rally from a 3-0 deficit to a 4-3 overtime win, Philadelphia now looks to win two opening games in a row. And the Flyers may need to do that in Game 2 on April 13, in order to keep the Penguins as down as they are right now.

Pittsburgh is obviously dejected and stunned over how it lost Game 1 - and how it blew a big lead to Philadelphia for the third time this season. After being hyped as Stanley Cup favorites and looking so dominant over the Flyers early on, the Penguins now desperately need at least one win at home.

As such, if the series goes back to Philadelphia even at 1-1, it will give Pittsburgh all the confidence in the world. Before Game 1, it seemed like the Flyers would be the big winners if they got an opening split. But now if they let the Penguins get new life and put the disaster of Game 1 behind them, it will be a much bigger disappointment.

Game 1 had the kind of win that should propel the Flyers to greater things - or at least control of this series. Meanwhile, the Penguins suffered the kind of loss that could put them in a major tail spin - but only if the Flyers can keep taking advantage. However, a convincing win in Game 2 would negate the horrors from 48 hours ago and show the Penguins that they are resilient as well.

Philadelphia already knows it can rally back from adversity and big deficits. But if this is going to be a real Stanley Cup contending team, it needs to handle prosperity and having leads once in a while. Given their pattern of only winning when they fall behind early, being ahead 1-0 in this series may be the worst thing for the Flyers - unless they can finally win without needing a comeback.

If they can do that and keep the Penguins buried, then this could be a much shorter series than we all think. Yet if Pittsburgh rallies back, then this could be the grueling seven-game bloodbath we all expected, which isn't ideal for Philadelphia in the short or long term.

As such, now that the Flyers will get no worse than a split, it can no longer be enough for them. Stanley Cup winning teams know how to get greedy and capitalize from defining wins like the one in Game 1. If Philadelphia is that team, it won't rest on its newfound laurels in Game 2 - since it probably can't afford to do so.

Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and a Flyers fan since the age of eight.

Other stories from this contributor

Briere gets revenge over Penguins with another playoff explosion

Penguins can't even hold lead over Flyers in playoffs

Flyers look to break postseason losing streak to Penguins

Flyers try to keep up road success in Pittsburgh

Flyers hope Bryzgalov rewrites his postseason history

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Updated Friday, Apr 13, 2012