Philly hopes to jump to 2-0 lead

Updated: April 27, 2004, 3:20 PM ET
Associated Press

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Now that the Philadelphia Flyers know how the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to play, they've made some adjustments.

The Flyers hope those changes help them take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinals series against Toronto. Game 2 is Sunday night in Philadelphia.

The Flyers won the series opener 3-1 on Thursday night. In that game, the Leafs gave Philadelphia some trouble by playing a tight defensive style that contrasted the more wide-open way they used to play. Toronto didn't allow many odd-man rushes and clogged up the neutral zone.

"It's a different look on that team," Flyers forward Tony Amonte said Saturday. "Both teams are trying to play tight, similar styles. Every game is going to be right there, right down to the end."

One switch Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock made during Game 1 was moving enforcer Donald Brashear up from the fourth line to play on a line centered by Keith Primeau. Brashear helped offset the size advantage of Toronto's forwards.

Hitchcock said he's also considering playing another enforcer, Todd Fedoruk, who was a healthy scratch in Game 1. Fedoruk probably won't play in Game 2, though.

"I think the big difference is, they're not running around taking chances or trying to take someone's head off," Brashear said. "They try to be a more complete team now, play defense. I think both teams are the same, they're physical teams."

The Leafs, already depleted by injuries to forwards Mats Sundin and Owen Nolan, likely won't have forward Joe Nieuwendyk because of an undisclosed injury.

"He's probably not going to play," Toronto coach Pat Quinn said, adding that Nieuwendyk shouldn't have played in the series opener. "We could see that his play wasn't where it needed to be and where it has been. It probably wasn't a good idea that he played, and eventually he had to pull himself."

Sundin, who has missed five straight games with a leg injury, looked good in practice on Saturday, but his status for Game 2 is uncertain.

"Certainly, the way it feels right now, I'll be back for this series for sure," Sundin said. "It feels a lot better."

Though they lost the opener, the Leafs are confident they can earn a split in Philadelphia. Despite playing after only one day of rest because they needed seven games to beat Ottawa in the first round, the Leafs stayed close for 55 minutes in Game 1.

"I think we're better prepared. We know Game 1 wasn't our best effort," forward Alexander Mogilny said. "We were right there. We just had a couple of bad bounces and we couldn't recover from it. We just have to find a way to get the puck at the net like they have. That's how they scored their goals."

Hitchcock wasn't pleased with his team's effort in the opener, and is concerned about the rest of the series.

"They had every chance to win the game, just like we did," he said. "I just feel like, even though we won the game, we have to play better. If we play the same game, I'm not sure that game is going to be good enough. We have to get more throughout our lineup. We need a better 60-minute effort. We played 40 minutes and got away with it. If we play 40 minutes again, we won't get away with it."

The Flyers are hoping to get defenseman Kim Johnsson (hand) back in the lineup on Sunday night. He didn't practice Saturday, but Hitchcock said he has a "50-50" chance of playing.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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