By Tim Panaccio in Philadelphia
This is one of those intangibles that has frustrated the Flyers in their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the New Jersey Devils.
The discipline of the Devils. They don't bite on agitation. They don't retaliate. When Scott Hartnell comes up ice and looks for a hit and it's not there, he goes chasing.
The Devils' disciplined play - it begins with general manager Lou Lamoriello and trickles down to every aspect of New Jersey's organization - has frustrated the Flyers, who would prefer several minutes every game of street fight to get their collective juices going.
"It's our game plan to stay disciplined," goalie Marty Brodeur said as New Jersey prepares for Game 5 Tuesday night (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7:30 p.m. ET). "We have a lot of respect for that team. We don't want to give them an inch and that's the way we approach every game.
"Games have been tight. [Ilya] Bryzgalov is playing well for them and we've just got to keep doing what we've been doing. But, for us, it's a key. We're playing hard. Our intensity has been great, but our discipline has been better."
This club is a true reflection of coach Pete DeBoer and of the general blueprint the Devils have had for years, minus the trap.
They actually have perhaps the most aggressive forecheck in the East. The Devils are nothing short of tenacious on the puck.
"We're well prepared," Brodeur said. "Just not Pete, but as a coaching staff, I think they stressed a lot on us being disciplined and being hard-working and knowing what to do as far as systems are concerned.
"We've made some adjustments throughout games. Even though we were successful, we always try to find a way to be better and it's all to their credit. I think everybody is on the same page and I think it starts by the coaching staff to put the system out there for us."
Brodeur is one of the reasons the Devils have erased the Flyers' forecheck in the series. He's getting the pucks before they do.
"It goes with our neutral zone," he said. "When we play tight in the neutral zone, they have to dump the puck a lot more and that's where I'm able to be effective a little bit to try to help my defencemen so we don't get hit too much.
"We keep the play moving forward and not freezing the puck too much and not being in our zone for too long. I was able to do that, but sometimes in games I have a hard time doing [it] just because they kind of put the puck away from me a little bit."
Flyers centreman Claude Giroux will miss Game 5 while serving his suspension for the head shot to Dainius Zubrus in Game 4.
The Flyers are hoping Giroux's absence serves as a rallying point for the team. In the Pittsburgh series, the Penguins lost three starters to suspension in Game 4 - James Neal, Craig Adams and Arron Asham.
Pittsburgh used that as a rally cry and pasted the Flyers, 10-3 - the most lopsided playoff loss the Flyers have had under coach Peter Laviolette.
"It's hard to say what's a suspension or not," Giroux said on Tuesday. "Obviously, I hit his head with my shoulder but I still think I didn't jump, my elbow was down. That wasn't my intention to hit his head.
"Obviously, it's disappointing to see that I can't go on the ice and help the guys win this game tonight. But all I got to do is focus for Game 6 now."
He admitted that his arguing with the officials as he went back up ice before hitting Zubrus likely played a role in his suspension.
"I think that's one of the reasons I had to get a suspension," Giroux said. "I was kind of frustrated that the ref didn't call Brodeur playing in that zone. I was a little disappointed that he missed that call.
"We could have gone on a power play there and tied the game up. What is done is done. Now I've just got to worry about Game 6. I know the guys are going to go out there tonight and give everything they've got. I'm confident that they're going to get a win."
Laviolette would not reveal his line but it is likely that Matt Read will move up. Problem is, the Flyers have done so much line juggling this series, it remains uncertain whether Read would centre James van Riemsdyk and Wayne Simmonds as Giroux did for parts of Game 4, or some other combination of players.
"It's disappointing to lose Claude," Laviolette said. "It's one of those tough calls. A guy playing hard every shift. He has his whole career. He's done it clean.
"It's unfortunate that we don't have him in the lineup. Tonight will be about what we do have, not what we don't have.
"I expect big games from all of our players to be honest with you. I have a lot of confidence that we can do that."
Stat you need to know
Flyers are 1-5 in the playoffs when they score first.
Tim Panaccio reports on the Flyers for CSNPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @tpanotchCSN
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