Flyers vs. Penguins, ECQF Game 3 preview: Home-ice disadvantage? Think again

PHILADELPHIA - MAY 05: The Philadelphia Flyers and the Boston Bruins stand for the national anthem prior to Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Wachovia Center on May 5, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

3 p.m. Wells Fargo Center
South Philadelphia

Game 3, Eastern Quarterfinals
Flyers lead series, 2-0
TV: NBC [free stream], TSN, RDS
RADIO: 610 WIP -- not 94 WIP
PENS BLOG: PensBurgh

Can you believe Game 3 is already here? It seems like just yesterday these playoffs were beginning, and now the Flyers have a chance to put an absolute stranglehold on the Pittsburgh Penguins with a victory on home ice today. Of course, home ice hasn't necessarily been friendly to the Flyers this season as they've at times played a lifeless, disappointing brand of hockey in front of the Wells Fargo Center crowd, but I have a feeling that all goes away starting this afternoon.

If you've been to a game at the Wells Fargo Center this year -- or any of the last two or three years, for that matter -- you'll know that the atmosphere has been a bit lacking. It's not the time right now to dissect the reasons for this -- ticket prices, chiefly -- but you know it's a problem, and it can certainly take away a bit of the home-ice edge. The WFC is not necessarily a tough building to play in these days.

That all changes in the playoffs, though. The atmosphere in the building for a playoff game is unlike any other, and given what took place in Games 1 and 2, the crowd might get more energy today if the Flyers fall to an early deficit again. I don't believe that a crowd can completely will a team to victory, but it can certainly help, and the Penguins are clearly already a fragile club mentally. (Seriously, watch Dan Bylsma's post-game presser from Friday if you don't believe me.) A boisterous crowd might just push that over the edge.

From a tactical perspective, it's obvious that Peter Laviolette thoroughly outcoached Dan Bylsma on Pittsburgh ice. He got seemingly every matchup he wanted and Bylsma seemed incapable of adjusting to those unfriendly matchups. On home ice, it should be much easier for Laviolette to do the same, and at that point, it all comes down to the players performing. That hasn't been a problem thus far. Not one bit..

There's no morning skate today as a result of the 3 p.m. start time, so we're not sure of any lineup changes. Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen could play today, but that seems like it'll be a game-time decision. We'd have to expect the same lineup for the Flyers.

Flyers Expected Lineup

Hartnell - Giroux - Jagr
Schenn - Briere - Simmonds
Voracek - Couturier - Talbot
Wellwood - Read - Rinaldo

Timonen - Carle
Grossmann - Coburn
Kubina - Lilja

Pittsburgh Expected Lineup

Kunitz - Malkin - Neal
Cooke - Staal - Kennedy
Sullivan - Crosby - Dupuis
Asham - Vitale - Adams

Letang - Martin
Michalek - Orpik
Engelland - Lovejoy

Our game thread will be up at 2 p.m. today. Go Flyers.

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