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Brimming with Confidence

Friday, 04.24.2009 / 2:33 PM / News
By Adam Kimelman  - NHL.com
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Brimming with Confidence
The Flyers still trail the Penguins 3-2 in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series. But to listen to folks in the Philadelphia locker room, you would think they were in the driver\'s seat.
PENGUINS VS. FLYERS
SERIES STATUS: PENGUINS LEAD 3-2
GAME 1: PIT 4, PHI 1 | PHOTOS | WATCH | REACTION
GAME 2: PIT 3, PHI 2 (OT) | PHOTOS | WATCH | REACTION
GAME 3: PHI 6, PIT 3 | PHOTOS | WATCH | REACTION
GAME 4: PIT 3, PHI 1 | PHOTOS | WATCH | REACTION
GAME 5: PHI 3, PIT 0 | PHOTOS | WATCH | REACTION
GAME 6: SAT APR 25 @ PHI 3:00 PM | NBC, CBC
GAME 7: MON APR 27 @ PIT TBD | VS, CBC
 
RELATED STORIES:
John Stevens
Game Changer | NHL.com's Penguins-Flyers Blog
Game 2 Video: Stevens
Seven questions: Mike Knuble
Penguins vs. Flyers Series Storylines

(Voorhees, NJ) - The Flyers still trail the Penguins 3-2 in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series. But to listen to folks in the Philadelphia locker room, you would think they were in the driver's seat.

"It's pretty amazing," forward Danny Briere told NHL.com following Friday's media availability. "Even (Thursday), going and getting ready for the game -- it's weird, we're down 3-1 but it doesn't feel that way."

That's because of what the Flyers have been able to do since the middle of Game 2 of this series. Discounting the penalty-filled 4-1 loss in Game 1, the Flyers have had the better of the play. They've outscored the Penguins in the last four games 12-9, and except for three poorly timed penalties late in Game 2, they could be the ones ready to close out this series.

"After Game 1, where we didn't really play well at all, we made some changes and guys really grabbed it and went for it and that really made a difference," said goaltender Martin Biron.

"In our room we feel like we're getting stronger," said forward Mike Knuble. "After that first game and halfway though the second we've been a different team and progressively getting better. The good thing is time didn't run out on us. Sometimes your team gets better but your series runs out. We still feel like we have a ways to go, we still feel like we can get better as a team. Everything that's happening to us is positive. That helps the locker room, helps the momentum, helps you climb back into a series."

It also helps when your goalie delivers a 28-save shutout, like Biron did in Game 5 to keep the series alive and force a Game 6 in Philadelphia Saturday (3 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS). With a sunny, 87-degree day predicted, the always rowdy crowds that pack the Wachovia Center should be in a great mood.

"We expect it to be an absolute madhouse (Saturday)," said Knuble. "I've been here four years and this will be the most exciting game I've played here. All of us are looking forward to it."

The players all talked about being able to draw off the energy of the home crowd.

"They're loud and obnoxious in a good way for us," said Knuble. "When you're the home team it's a great obnoxiousness. The weather is going to be good, people are going to be tailgating and they're going to be in the mood to watch a hockey game."

- - -

The Philadelphia Flyers ran into a brick wall in Game 4. After Game 5, the Pittsburgh Penguins know just how that feels.

After Marc-Andre Fleury stole Game 4 for the Penguins, it was the Flyers' Martin Biron's chance to return the favor. Biron stopped all 28 shots he faced for his second career playoff shutout as the Flyers remained alive in the teams' Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series, now trailing 3-2.

"Part of the message before the game was we needed Marty to be great," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "I thought we had a really good start to the game. At the five-minute mark, we sat back and played a bit too cautious and played too much in our end.

"When Marty plays like he did, he allowed us to regroup between periods. He allowed us to start doing some of the things we had been doing in the series. We really got things corrected. I think Marty deserves a lot of credit for that because he held the fort early, he allowed us to regroup and really gave us a vote of confidence to get back playing."

It was similar to the effort Fleury put up in Game 4, when he stopped 45 of 46 shots as the Penguins took a 3-1 series lead.

Biron has played well in the series, posting a 2.29 goals-against average and .927 save percentage. In fact, his play has eliminated what had been a Philadelphia spring hockey tradition -- debating the value of the starting goaltender. He stopped all 15 shots the Penguins threw at him in the first period, and played his strongest game of the series when Philadelphia needed him the most.

Now the teams return to Philadelphia for Game 6, and the Flyers are feeling more confident all the time. It's a situation similar to last season, when the team knew Biron could and would stop everything thrown at him.

"Marty wants to be counted on," Stevens said. "We counted on him big-time last year in the playoffs. ... We knew he could play the way he did tonight."

Biron didn't have to make too many super saves, and got a bit of help when Evgeni Malkin's second-period goal was waved off after he kicked it into the net, but he inspires his teammates, which is about the best thing that can be said for any goaltender.

"Marty was great," Flyers forward Danny Briere said. "We're going to need that from him -- everybody knows that, he knows that. That first period he was huge. It's never easy when you come into somebody's building when they're trying to close it out. We knew that first period we had to weather the storm. Marty needed to be our best player in the first period and he did that. He kept us in the game, gave us a chance to get our legs under us and let us play how we're capable of."

Biron shrugs off his status as the key to the Flyers' playoff success.

"I said (Wednesday) that if I was asked to step up I would, but we all trust the guy next to us to step up," said Biron. "There are guys that played big roles and that's what we want."

But no one played a bigger role than the goalie, right when it was needed most.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 82 28 58 7 86
J. Voracek 82 23 39 11 62
W. Simmonds 82 29 31 -4 60
S. Hartnell 78 20 32 11 52
M. Streit 82 10 34 3 44
B. Schenn 82 20 21 0 41
M. Read 75 22 18 -4 40
S. Couturier 82 13 26 1 39
V. Lecavalier 69 20 17 -16 37
K. Timonen 77 6 29 5 35
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 33 18 7 .917 2.50
R. Emery 9 12 2 .903 2.96
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