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Flyers Express Confidence in Defense After Jarring Loss

May 22, 2010 – 9:30 AM
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A.J. Perez

A.J. Perez %BloggerTitle%

MONTREAL -- Don't expect a dreadful outing by the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday to lead to internal doubts about their defensive approach.

Those questions were asked and answered months ago.

"We went through a rough stretch when we first got here and had our system tested," said Flyers assistant coach Kevin McCarthy, who is in charge of the team's blue liners. "We had to hit the bottom as a team before we realized that we could get together as a team and play a certain style. Once we did that, things started to change."

McCarthy was on the Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette's staff with Carolina Hurricanes, a team they helped lead to the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals. When Laviolette was hired in December, he brought McCarthy and his up-tempo, aggressive system with him to Philly.

Flyers lead series, 2-1
Flyers vs. Canadiens: Series Page | Full NHL Playoffs Coverage

"It was little bit of an adjustment early on," said Flyers defenseman Matt Carle. "It took us a month or two to get used to it. I think we've taken to it pretty well. I don't think you'd find a guy say that they didn't like to play the way we play."

Adds veteran defenseman Kimmo Timonen: "This system demands that you have to be in great skating shape. It took us a while to get there and realize what everybody has to do and what kind of shape you have to be in. Once we all figured it out, it's been fun."

The top two defensive pairs -- Chris Pronger/Carle and Timonen/Braydon Coburn -- get nearly all the ice time for the Flyers, although not much of their time logged in the Montreal Canadiens' 5-1 victory in Game 3 was pretty. Whether it was turnovers, untimely penalties, or losing battles in front of their net, the Flyers defense that had backstopped six consecutive victories looked a little suspect.

"If we want to win, we have to have those top four guys shutting down their top players," Flyers goalie Michael Leighton said. "They're going to get the minutes, and we're all confident in them. We're not worried about that."

Pronger, long one of the league's top defenseman, and Carle were both minus-3 in Game 3. While Timonen and Coburn were even on the night, Coburn took three penalties and Timonen took one.

"We have to refocus and come back and play our game," Coburn said. "They were able to dictate their game and we need to get back to playing ours."

McCarthy also doesn't seem overly concerned.

"Things like this happen over the course of the playoffs," McCarthy said. "It happened in the regular season and we bounced back. That's why these guys are pros. They don't let one game bother them. They feed off of that and come back even stronger."
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