Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella didn't feel the need to talk to star netminder Nikolai Khabibulin about his rough outing in Game 2 Monday night against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Khabibulin, who had been instrumental in his team's eight straight postseason victories, gave up three goals on five shots and was pulled after the Flyers' fourth goal just 6:02 into the second period of a 6-2 loss.
When the best-of-seven series, tied at one game apiece, resumes tonight at the
"He knows he's going to go the next game and I don't have to say a word," said Tortorella.
Despite the drubbing, Tortorella said he was confident his club would rebound.
"Our team understands what Nik is," said the coach, whose team earned a convincing 3-1 victory in Game 1. "Nik understands our team. We understand the situation we're in. We've been in it before. These guys are pro athletes. Sometimes you need to show them the respect as far as believing in them. So, there's no question that they understand the situation we're in."
The Flyers, on the other hand, hope to parlay their Game 2 performance, in which they pressured the Lightning mightily, into success in Game 3. They were able to get plenty of shots on net, plenty of traffic in front of Khabibulin, and were physical. Now they hope to take advantage of home ice.
"We have really played well in our building," said coach Ken Hitchcock. "We have really played consistent. We haven't had very many lulls in the game. The last game we played in our building [against Toronto] was the best hockey game we have played all year. So, we are hoping that we can duplicate it."
Hitchcock said there's a vast difference between the way the 2003-04 Flyers have played in their own barn compared with a season ago.
"I thought last year there were times that we just took winning for granted because we were at home," said Hitchcock. "We didn't set any tone, either with our puck movement or our physical presence, or our tenacity. We set no tone. We just kind of threw it up in the air and hoped we were going to win. We have done a much better job of that this year. We have been better, especially in the playoffs. We have tried really hard to set the tone and I think we have had success because of it."
So far, it's shaping up as a physical series by both teams. Hitchcock said that type of commitment from everyone on the club is necessary. He's seen it in the Western Conference finals in the way the upstart Calgary Flames [who lead the San Jose Sharks, 2-0] are playing.
"That's the hardest thing to get your team to do," said Hitchcock. "You look at Calgary [Tuesday, a 4-1 win], every player looked the same. You couldn't tell the difference between the $8 million players and the $800,000 players. They all looked the same. That's when you can tell a team has a physical presence going. And to me, when you have that commitment, then you're taking away people's space. It's a very hard thing to do. It's not comfortable. It's not an easy way to play but it's a commitment that every player, in my opinion, has to find a way to make for your team to have success."