By Tim Panaccio in Newark, N.J.
Remember in the first series how the Flyers openly exuded confidence in going into Pittsburgh, spotting the Penguins a few goals and then beating them?
How they were 6-1 in the Burgh at one point over the past two seasons?
How both the Flyers and their chairman, Ed Snider, said that they had gotten into the Penguins' heads and put some doubt into their resolve?
All of which was true.
Well, it's not a stretch, by any means, to say that the New Jersey Devils have done to the Flyers what the Flyers did to Pittsburgh.
The Devils have gotten into the Flyers' heads and filled them with some doubt - not resolve.
"If we thought they were just going to let us win, then we had the wrong mindset and we deserve to lose, there's no doubt about that," Danny Briere said.
"Everybody on an individual basis has to find another gear. Find a way to believe we can beat them. Find a way to go out there with the mindset that they are going to win every battle and find a mindset.
"We're not going to win every single battle but we can't lose the majority of [them] like we have the last two games."
Game 4 on Sunday night (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7:30 p.m. ET) will say volumes whether the Flyers are ready to get back into this series or just waiting to fade into the spring night.
"I think we put a little more doubt in their mind, obviously, than maybe what they thought the series might be before it started," Patrick Elias said.
"I think the games we played we played good enough to win and, at the same time, [Thursday's] game could have gone either way. I think that Marty was very solid. He gave us the opportunity when he had to.
"I think we're in great position being home for one more game and having a 2-1 lead no question about it, but at the same time we all know what we have to do to be successful.
"If we just take a little bit off our game we can see how dangerous they are. They can come back and the series can be turned around and all the sudden you doubt yourself again."
The Flyers, quite frankly, have been pushed around in the series. They've been hit harder than they've dished out hits. They've been outworked everywhere on the ice and have lost most of the one-on-one battles.
Certain amount of disinterest
In short, they seem to be playing games with a certain amount of disinterest. If the Penguins series emotional, this is ... flat.
Scott Hartnell admitted the Devils have surprised the Flyers by imposing their will on them.
"I don't think we thought we were going to win four straight, but definitely they've played a lot stronger and a lot harder than me personally would have thought they'd come with," Hartnell admitted.
"They've been on a high the last few weeks obviously, beating Florida in Game 7. To have to step off that plane and take the bus to come here and play, they're riding that high.
"They've been playing really strong, playing really hard, and for us, maybe that week off was affecting our play so far ... If we win the next game we've got home ice advantage back.
Something is missing on the Flyers in these games and it needs to change.
"We gotta find the same emotion we had against Pittsburgh," Claude Giroux said. "That was a pretty emotional series, lot of things going on in that series."New Jersey Devils are a team that's going to sit back and ... it's not going to be as open as Pittsburgh and we need to understand that."
Certainly, the Devils are in a good position where they can go up 3-1 on Sunday night.
But try telling that to coach Pete DeBoer.
"I don't think you ever feel comfortable when you're playing the Philadelphia Flyers,' DeBoer said. "We know what they're capable of. We all watched them dismantle Pittsburgh.
"For me, we're only halfway there and we've got a lot of work left to do. This is a very dangerous team and, like I said when our backs were against the wall against Florida, I felt very comfortable and confident that we were going to come out swinging and play our best hockey.
"I'm sure Peter Laviolette's saying the same thing over there and believes it, so we have to be prepared for that. But we've got a lot of work left to do."
Tim Panaccio reports for CSNPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @tpanotchCSN.
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