Commentary

Flyers irked by Sabres' play after whistle

Updated: April 21, 2011, 9:22 PM ET
By Scott Burnside | ESPN.com

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Up is down, cats lying down with dogs, the Buffalo Sabres manhandling the once-feared Philadelphia Flyers.

A day after the Sabres posted their second 1-0 shutout of their opening-round series against the Flyers, knotting the best-of-seven affair at two games apiece, there was plenty of discussion on both sides of the fence about the Sabres' alleged bad behavior.

Philadelphia captain Mike Richards, who was assessed a five-minute penalty for elbowing Patrick Kaleta in the third period of Wednesday's game, was asked about the extracurricular activities that were taking place after the whistle.

"Lots of plays" after the whistle, Richards said with a wry grin.

Normally officials take care of that stuff, but the Philadelphia center said it hasn't been taken care of yet.

"It hasn't happened in the series yet, but I like our discipline. I like what we're doing walking away [from] it. Eventually I think, I mean you'd hope, something's going to happen I guess. If not, like I said, we can't worry about that stuff," said Richards, who has one assist in the series so far.

Patrick Kaleta and Claude Giroux
Bill Wippert/NHLI/Getty ImagesThe Sabres' Patrick Kaleta exchanges words with the Flyers' Claude Giroux during a stop in play.

"Obviously it can be better [in terms of discipline]. It can always be better, but at the same time, we've done a lot of good things from walking away from the scrums and not kind of feeding into their B.S.," he added.

Even the normally mild-mannered Kimmo Timonen said he felt the Sabres were taking liberties, especially after and away from the play, and lashed out a couple of times in Game 3.

"There's some things happen after whistle, like you said, I don't usually get mad, but once things get out of control and there's hitting behind, hitting to the hands, hitting after the whistle to your calves. Those are things I can't take it and sometimes you get emotional about it. But that's again yesterday, and I'm focused on tomorrow," Timonen said.

The Finnish defenseman said he expects the Flyers to be even more physical at home Friday.

"I'm expecting us tomorrow to come hard, really hard. I don't know how many hits we had but I going to say we got double for tomorrow," Timonen said.

As players were working out at the Flyers' practice facility, word came out of Buffalo that coach Lindy Ruff didn't think much of the Flyers' concerns.

"I just feel that they're doing a lot of whining. They're really doing a lot of whining. I didn't hear any whining when they had 10 power plays in Philly, and I didn't hear any whining when the power plays in the first game were lopsided," Ruff told reporters in Buffalo before the team jetted to Philadelphia.

"But all of a sudden there's all this whining about, 'We're getting away with murder.' That's a bunch of crap. That's for the media. That's for the officials to read. That's, 'Here, let's get the next call.' That's a bunch of crap. Let's just play," Ruff said.

"We're just playing. There hasn't been one word about the officiating out of us. If they want to cry about the officiating or whine about different calls, go ahead, go ahead."

Ruff's counterpart, Peter Laviolette, would not be drawn into any kind of war of words with Ruff.

He said he didn't know whether the Sabres were deliberately trying to goad the more skilled Flyers into taking retaliatory penalties.

"You're trying to give everything you got, get out of the first round, and sometimes emotions get high and tempers flare," Laviolette said.

Ruff's comments reminded us of a playoff series right after the lockout that saw then-Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock verbally sparring with Ruff as the Sabres knocked off the Flyers.

Wednesday's game ended with emotions running pretty high, and the consensus is that Friday's pivotal fifth game will bring more of the same now that the series has shifted back to Philadelphia.

"I'm a big believer of grabbing the energy. It's got to be within the realm of discipline I think, but there'll be lots of jump tomorrow night, lots of jam. We've got to harness that and use that to our advantage," Laviolette said.

The to-ing and fro-ing over who was being mean and who wasn't overshadowed a basic truth for the Flyers.

When they have beaten Buffalo netminder Ryan Miller, they have won.

The Flyers have as deep an offensive lineup as there is in the Eastern Conference, so it is more than a little ironic they find themselves in a best-of-three series having apparently solidified the goaltending issue with Brian Boucher but falling short offensively.

"The guys went out there and they gave a lot and the results we're not happy with. It's not good enough to just walk away saying all right, good try. This is a playoff series. You've got to win four games before the other team does," Laviolette said.

"We lost a couple of one-goal games where we feel like we did the things that we needed to do, but it's disappointing and a little bit frustrating because we don't get the results. We're in a dogfight now; it's 2-2."

The Flyers' challenges in beating Miller, who was especially other-worldly in Game 4 stopping all 29 Flyers shots, won't get any easier. It's unknown whether Jeff Carter will be available after he left Game 3 with an injury. He did not skate Thursday. Chris Pronger did skate, but he, like Carter, was listed as "day to day" by GM Paul Holmgren.

Is there a sense of frustration given the weapons the Flyers possess?

"Definitely not. I think when you're this deep, I think you know you can score, so obviously when you don't, you have to find different ways to, but you also know there is a lot of weapons," said winger Kris Versteeg, who was a member of the Chicago Blackhawks squad that won the Stanley Cup last spring.

Scott Burnside covers the NHL for ESPN.com.