Mum's the word on violent Game 3

Philadelphia's players remain above the fray for now

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VOORHEES, N.J. -- It was pretty obvious that the Philadelphia Flyers had engaged in pinkie swears or reached an agreement to remain mum about a certain aspect of Game 3 of their first-round playoff series against the Penguins.

No one was offering any bulletin-board material about the high number of penalties, fights and questionable hits -- many of them initiated by the Penguins -- in the 8-4 win that gave Philadelphia a 3-0 series lead.

The Flyers, who practiced Tuesday at Skate Zone after having a day off Monday, gave awfully standardized answers when asked about the rough stuff.

"The way things happen, for us it doesn't matter," former Penguins winger Max Talbot said. "We handled it pretty well.

"I don't think it's going to carry over. Who knows? But it's about playing a game right now."

And he was one of the more outspoken members of the club on the subject.

Asked if he thought the Penguins might try such tactics again tonight in Game 4 at Wells Fargo Center, center Sean Couturier said: "I don't know. We know they're going to come out strong. They're down, 0-3, so they can't afford to lose. They're going to be hard to play against. We're going to have to be ready."

Coach Peter Laviolette specifically pointed out that the Flyers weren't talking about the extracurricular activities in Game 3, and said, "We're going to continue to try to stay out of it."

It figures the Flyers were cohesive on the subject. They've been a resilient bunch so far, coming back from a deficit in each game, dominating on special teams, amassing 20 goals and limiting regular-season scoring champion Evgeni Malkin to a quiet four assists and a plus-minus rating of minus-4, worst among the Penguins.

Laviolette has gotten a lot of credit for much of that. The Flyers seem to have responded to his coaching, including timely timeouts each game.

"There's different ways to fire up the team," winger Jaromir Jagr said. "He did it differently. Once he screamed, once he was cool. Once he said, 'You guys have got nothing to lose. Let's try to win it.' The second time, he was very mad."

If there are any secrets to Laviolette's coaching style, he isn't divulging them.

"More than anything, when it comes to dealing with your team, you just have to read it from day to day and situation to situation and act accordingly," Laviolette said. "There's no science to it."

There's not a lot of complicated math in what's ahead for the Flyers, either. One win, with four possible tries, and they eliminate a team that was a favorite to win the Stanley Cup.

"Anytime you've got a team on the brink, you expect their best effort," defenseman Braydon Coburn said.

"[Games where you can clinch] are always the toughest, but we've got to prepare for it like any other game."

Predictions before the series fell toward the longer term, six or seven games, and that led to the notion that the winner would be a group of players worn down by a physical series.

It hasn't been as close once thought -- "If you would have asked me at the start of the playoffs if we were going to be up [3-0], I would say no," Talbot said -- but it has still been rugged. The teams have combined for 225 hits in the three games.

If Philadelphia can wrap things up sooner rather than later, one of the rewards will be several days off before the next series. If the Penguins win tonight, the series shifts back to Consol Energy Center for Game 5 Friday night.

"Every time you've got a chance to finish a series, whether it's [Game] 4, 5, 6, you want to give it your all to finish it as fast as you can," Talbot said. "It's important because you can have more rest, rest your body.

"You don't want to go back to Pittsburgh, take that chance [of letting the Penguins back in the series]. We're going to give everything we can [tonight] to finish it."


First Published April 18, 2012 12:00 AM


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