Down two games to one in the division semifinals, the Flyers are in a virtual must-win situation when they host the defensively superior New York Rangers on Friday night.
“We have a lot more to give,” captain Claude Giroux said after the morning skate Friday at the Wells Fargo Center. “We’re a young team with a lot of energy and passion. We love the game, so it (the passion) has to be higher.”
Winger Scott Hartnell agreed.
“We haven’t played our best 60, and really let them have it,” he said. “You’re at home to tie the series. We were loose out there this morning. It seems like it hasn’t been fun in here. Everyone is still real tense; all the media and all that stuff. We have to have fun tonight. When we’re having fun and loose, we’re a pretty hard team to play against. We’re fast, we’re hitting, all that kind of stuff.
“We have to go back to basics.”
Most of the Flyers regulars practiced on Friday morning -- Kimmo Timonen and Sean Couturier did not -- while Rangers coach Alain Vigneault opted to rest his players and give them the morning off.
“We’re desperate; we want to win this game tonight; we have to win this game tonight,” winger Wayne Simmonds said.
“We have to play our game, and can’t worry about being down, 2-1, or how we played the last game,” Giroux said. “It’s another day; we’re playing home in front of our fans and have to be ready to go. The confidence has to be there. This is the time of the year when you want to be on the ice, you want to have fun playing, and I think we got away from having a little bit of fun. We’re a team when we’re having fun, we’re successful.”
The Rangers have had a lot to do with demoralizing the Flyers, blocking 28 shots in their 4-1 win at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday.
Steve Mason is back in the nets Friday, making his first start since he was injured in a goal-mouth collision in Pittsburgh on April 12.
Giroux said Mason’s puck-handling will aid the Flyers, and he called him “one of our hardest-working guys in practice and in games. For him to be back, it’s good for the team, good for the room. It’ll be fresh, a little bit.”
The Rangers took the crowd out of the game by taking a 2-0 lead in the first 10:24 on Tuesday.
“There were some boos; it was a little frustrating,” Hartnell said. “We’ve got to come out with a better start.”
The Flyers have led for just 32:07 of the series' 180 minutes.
Breakaways. Flyers coach Craig Berube: “Overall, we can be more physical in situations, but on the other hand, we don’t want to be running around out of control. Listen, this is a good (Rangers) team that has a real good attack. They’re fast, they skate well. You‘ve got to be careful. You can’t be losing people up ice on the forecheck and being too aggressive. We don’t want to get into a rush game with these guys. We want to continue to play good defense, and try to grind them down low. We have to do better job of getting more pucks to the net.”…..In seven-game series, the Flyers are 33-35 in Game 4 and 13-14 in Game 4 when down in a series, two games to one…..Berube: We have to execute better. “You go 0 for 5 on the power play” _ as the Flyers did in Game 3 _ “it comes down to execution.”...Excluding an empty-net goal by Simmonds, the seven Flyers who scored 20 or more regular-season goals have combined for one goal (by Jake Voracek) in the first three games....In the playoffs, home teams are 21-10 _ West teams are 15-1, while the East is just 6-9.
PROBABLE LINEUPS (with series stats)
Scott Hartnell (2 pts.)-Claude Giroux (2)-Jake Voracek (2).
Brayden Schenn(1)-Vinny Lecavalier(1)-Wayne Simmonds (1).
Matt Read(1)-Sean Couturier(0)-Jason Akeson (1).
Zac Rinaldo(0)-Michael Raffl(1)-Adam Hall (1).
Kimmo Timonen(0, minus-4)-Braydon Coburn (0, minus-4).
Nick Grossmann(0, even)-Mark Streit (1, plus-1).
Andrew MacDonald(1, even)-Luke Schenn (1, plus-1).
Steve Mason (0-0, 0.00 GAA, 1.000 save percentage).
Rick Nash(4 pts.)-Derek Stepan(3)-Martin St. Louis (5).
Benoit Pouliot (2)-Deriok Brassard(1)-Mats Zuccarello (2).
Carl Hagelin(2) -Brad Richards(4)-Dan Carcillo (1).
Brian Boyle(1)-Dominic Moore(0)-Derek Dorsett (0).
Ryan McDonagh(0, minus-3)-Dan Girardi (2, minus-1).
Marc Staal (1, plus-4)-Anton Stralman (0, plus-2).
Kevin Klein (0, plus-2)-John Moore.(0, plus-2),
Henrik Lundqvist (2-1, 1.67 GAA, .930 save percentage).
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.