Stanley Cup Final Game 4, the morning skate
The Philadelphia Flyers, who made the playoffs by winning a shootout on the last day of the regular season and rebounded from an 0-3 deficit in the second round against Boston, are accustomed to playing — and winning — must-win games.
That could work in their favor tonight, when they try to win their second successive home game and tie their Stanley Cup Final series against the Chicago Blackhawks at two games each.
But the Blackhawks, who lost to the Flyers in overtime Wednesday in Game 3, have not lost two games in a row in the playoffs this spring. So an argument can be made that they’re well-prepared to bounce back tonight and put themselves in position to win the Cup in Chicago Sunday in Game 5.
That’s why they play the games, eh?
Flyers Coach Peter Laviolette, asked why his team seems so loose, said after the morning skate Friday that his team has no reason to feel tense because the pressure sits on the shoulders of the Blackhawks. He left out the minor detail about Chicago still leading the series two games to one.
“We're in a position where the pressure for us … it's almost like we're on borrowed time,” Laviolette said. “Like I said before, at Christmastime we were 29th in the league. It comes down to the last game of the season.
“We are just a resilient group. We keep pushing. The pressure, I think, is more for teams that are expected to win, as the Blackhawks are, and everybody picked them before the series. We don't concede anything. We feel like we've got a confident group that's capable of winning hockey games.
“But I don't know if we feel the pressure as much. We're trying to keep it light. We're trying to have a whole bunch of fun.”
Not everyone picked the Blackhawks, but why let the facts get in the way of a good ploy?
Anyway, the Blackhawks weren’t buying. Asked if Laviolette was playing mind games, Patrick Kane nodded yes.
“I’m sure it is,” the Blackhawks' winger said. “We don’t feel any pressure. We feel that we’re in the driver’s seat up, 2-1. We’re in a great position. We win this one and we can go back home and hopefully do some special things in front of our crowd.”
Kane scored his first goal of the Final on Wednesday, converting a breakaway. He’s hoping that will get him going.
“Anytime you can score and put some points on the board it helps your overall confidence,” he said. “Overall I thought I had a pretty good game. I thought I was headed in the right direction. Right now the biggest thing is building off that and try to get more opportunities and try to create even more.”
The Blackhawks might have one lineup change. Forward Andrew Ladd, who missed the first three games because of an unspecified injury, is a game-time decision, Coach Joel Quenneville said. If he’s back, it’s likely that Adam Burish would be scratched.
Laviolette wouldn’t say if he plans to make any lineup changes.
More later at www.latimes.com/sports, including some comments from Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin, projected to be the first and second picks at the NHL entry draft June 25 at Staples Center.
-- Helene Elliott in Philadelphia