Flyers need to stay physical
Philadelphia was flat in Game 1 but physical in Game 2 against Tampa Bay, while the Lightning must dictate the pace to win the Eastern Conference finals.
Originally Published: May 12, 2004By Ray Ferraro | Special to ESPN.com
What is each team doing right?
Philadelphia: The Flyers were far more physical in Game 2 and got far more traffic in front of the Tampa Bay net than they did in Game 1. Philadelphia seemed much more determined on the puck in Game 2. That has to continue.
Tampa Bay: The Lightning didn't do much right in their 6-2 loss in Game 2, but in the series opener they used their speed and skill and was able to keep Philadelphia on its heels.
What adjustments can each team make?
Philadelphia: Consistency has been a big problem for the Flyers. They seem to lose their edge somewhat at times, and they want to be as physical as possible at all times against Tampa's skilled forwards. The more the Lightning players are pounded the more difficult things will be for them, so Philadelphia must play the body hard at all times.
Tampa Bay: Three guys need to step up: Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Richards and Cory Stillman. All three have been quiet through the first two games. All three made big contributions in the sweep against Montreal in the conference semis. Though Richards scored the winner in Game 1, the trio as a whole has been otherwise shut down against the Flyers. They'll have to step up their games if Tampa is going to steal a victory on the road.
Philadelphia: Sami Kapanen has been maybe the most underrated player in the playoffs. He showed his heart in the way he dealt with that crushing hit from Darcy Tucker in the deciding game against Toronto in the conference semis. And he's been all over the ice in the postseason, playing both forward and defense and manning the point on the power play.
Tampa Bay: The play of Tampa's fourth line guys -- Chris Dingman, Andre Roy and Eric Perrin -- has been a pleasant surprise, but it's not necessarily a good thing when a team's fourth line is as noticeable as its first line.
Philadelphia: The only disappointment for the Flyers is the way they came out flat in Game 1. They followed with a very good effort in the second game of the series, but Philadelphia needs consistent effort and jump in every game from here on out.
Tampa Bay: Conversely, Tampa has to be disappointed with its low energy level in Game 2. Nikolai Khabibulin's shaky effort in that game -- four goals on 12 shots -- is also a major disappointment.
How will each team win the series?
Philadelphia: The Flyers will win this series by continuing to play very physical hockey. The more the Flyers can beat up Tampa's skill players and the more traffic they can get in front of Khabibulin the better. If those things continue to happen Philadelphia will be in good shape.
Tampa Bay: The Lightning have more offensive potential with five players who scored 25 or more goals in the regular season; that group has to get going. Tampa has to push the pace on the Flyers in order to use their offensive skills and outplay the Flyers in their zone. If that happens, the Lightning has a chance to come out on top.
Ray Ferraro retired from the NHL following the 2001-02 season after an 18-year career and is now an analyst for ESPN.