May 4, 2012, 2:11 PM EDT
“I don’t think we thought we were going to win four straight,” Hartnell told reporters. “But definitely they’ve played a lot stronger and a lot harder than me personally would have thought they’d come with.”
It’s a candid admission, though not entirely surprising given how the first round unfolded. Philadelphia was viewed by many as a Cup favorite after dispatching Pittsburgh, while few gave New Jersey a shot after it barely scraped by Florida (and had just two off days before starting Round 2.)
As such, the “guilty of looking ahead” narrative has come into play. Hartnell said it’s been frustrating for him and linemates Claude Giroux and Jaromir Jagr, who have been silenced for most of the series.
“Everyone’s frustrated. I know me personally, I’m frustrated,” Hartnell said. “You can tell with [Giroux] that he wants to make something happen every time he’s on the ice, and I think we all know that’s basically impossible.
“Whether it’s losing a puck battle at the wrong time or whatever, it seems like it’s almost contagious right now. Everybody’s doing it. It’s OK to be frustrated to a point, but we’ve got to get back our focus and get back to doing what we do well, whether it’s hitting or whatever.”
Speaking of hitting, Hartnell suggested he’ll be ratcheting up the physicality in Game 4. The Flyers have been out-hit in each of the first three games and know that trend can’t continue.
“I don’t expect Claude Giroux to go in and hit Zubrus or Salvador and those guys, that’s my job,” Hartnell said. “I’ve gotta get back to hitting and those guys have got to get back to handling the puck and doing what they do with the puck with me going to the net.
“I think we’re all just kind of out of sorts with each other, and it’s good to have a couple days off between each game to get refocused again.”
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