Still, Flyers know they made some mistakes

Updated: May 10, 2004, 2:24 AM ET
Associated Press

BRANDON, Fla. -- Soon after the Philadelphia Flyers arrived at a practice rink Sunday, some of the players turned around and headed back to the hotel for rest and relaxation under the sun.

Down 1-0 to Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference finals, the Flyers didn't spend their day off working on a new way to beat the Lightning, who have won five straight meetings, including all four in the regular season. Instead, coach Ken Hitchcock made a last-minute decision to make practice optional.

Flyers captain Keith Primeau and forward Jeremy Roenick were among the players who decided not to skate once they learned they didn't have to.

"We understand the circumstances," Primeau said. "We're a resilient team. We've faced adversity and responded all season."

Encouraged by his team's performance in a 3-1 series-opening loss Saturday, Hitchcock felt time away from the ice would benefit the players more.

The Flyers executed their game plan against the Lightning but lost because they made too many miscues in their own zone and only scored one goal.

"We played strong, but we made mistakes we have to correct," Roenick said.

Philadelphia shut down the Lightning's main weapons, holding Vincent Lecavalier to no shots, NHL scoring champion Martin St. Louis and Brad Richards to one each and Fredrik Modin to two.

The Flyers clogged up the center of the ice and didn't allow Tampa Bay to use its speed to get shots off the rush.

"In terms of what we do system-wise and how we're going to play, we're going to play the same way, but we've got to do some things a lot better," forward Mark Recchi said.

Hitchcock said he probably will make changes on some of the lines for Monday night's Game 2. The Flyers want to put more pressure on Lightning goalie Nikolai Khabibulin. They took 20 shots in the opener, but few were quality scoring opportunities.

"I don't think we tested him enough to even be intimidated by how well he's been playing," forward John LeClair said. "Each game is different. Each team has different styles and different approaches to a game, and I don't think we tested him as well as we would have liked."

Though losing the first two games wouldn't be a disaster, the Flyers realize the importance of gaining a split. As the lower seed (No. 3 vs. No. 1), they eventually have to win at least one game in Tampa to win the series.

"We're going to approach it like a must-win," Primeau said. "You don't want to go home down 0-2."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press