After going 12-for-23 in the opening round against Pittsburgh to set a franchise record for power play goals in a season, the Flyers are just 2-for-16 against the New Jersey Devils.
The second-round famine that has emanated from the first-round feast has everyone scratching their heads. The Penguins and Devils were among the top three penalty killers during the regular season, but both play different styles, and after three games in the Eastern Conference semifinals, coach Peter Laviolette's has yet to adjust to New Jersey's style.
That lack of adjustment has the Devils leading the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series two games to one, with Game 4 scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
"It's two totally different teams, two different penalty kills," the Flyers' Brayden Schenn said after the overtime loss in Game 3. "We just have to find a way to adjust and be better."
That might not be so easy.
"Well, they're completely different series right now," Laviolette said Friday after giving the team a day off to regroup and refresh physically and mentally.
"The real estate is hard to come by," he admitted. "The scoring chances are not as significant. The speed up and down the ice is not as significant. It's more zone time and battling as opposed to rushes up and down the ice. I think it's just a completely different look and feel than the first series."
It's particularly different for Flyers star Claude Giroux, whom Laviolette called the best player in the world during the Penguins series. This time out, Giroux has generated one goal, no assists and is minus-3 in the series. He led the playoffs in goals with six coming into the series.
"Claude's an elite player," Laviolette said. "There's pressure, and I think all players have pressure to be successful, whether you're a penalty killer or a goaltender or a second-line center or one of the leading scorers in the league and a top player in the game, I think there's always pressure.
"I don't necessarily see him struggling with that, I'm not sure where you're getting that from," he said in trying to defend Giroux's performance. "I think in a game like [Thursday] night, there's a disappointment that we're not successful. We lost a game in overtime and we had looks and opportunities to win. I think there's a disappointment. I don't know if it's a frustration or not, but certainly we're disappointed that we didn't have a better result last night."
Right now, this is as close as do-or-die as it gets for the Flyers. The Devils are on a two-game winning streak and have won at both the Wells Fargo Center and the Prudential Center. The Flyers need to sneak one out of the Rock because coming back from a 3-1 series deficit is a daunting task for any team.
"They're playing a very tight checking game," Laviolette said. "We're trying to generate more offense and trying to generate zone time. It's a much tighter-checking series [than against Pittsburgh]. You've got to take what you get, you've got to battle pucks out and get them through and look to generate offense when you can."
Perhaps that's the real problem, that everyone — even the coach and players — compares this series to the opening round series against Pittsburgh. They need to be looking at the opponent at hand, not at days gone by. The Flyers are facing the Devils, who finished just one point behind them in the division.
"They're not a team that's a Cinderella story," Laviolette said. "They're a top-10 team in the league. They've had a good year and we've got to continue to work at it to win games. I don't think it's anything that we didn't expect, it's just a little bit different. We're trying to make those adjustments to the different type of series."
Adjustments definitely need to be made on the power play. The Flyers have had enough man-advantages, they just haven't come very close to cashing in on them.
"Well, I think especially the last two games, they've outhustled us," Flyers winger Scott Hartnell said during a phone conference on Friday. "I think they've won the majority of the battles. I'm not sure on faceoffs, but they've won the majority of those, and that's not just the centermen, that's wingers helping out, things like that."
But even Hartnell has noticed the trend in which team is controlling the puck.
"It's frustrating to almost always being defending the whole game," he said. "It's definitely something that needs to be addressed. Hopefully a day off can recoup the body and we'll have a great practice on Saturday and get fired up to play."
The Flyers need to get something cooking before Sunday, because the Devils have looked like they're serving up barbecue the past two games. And they've done it, in large part, by skewering the Flyers power play.