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2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 4: Which team is feeling the pressure?

Judging by some of the questions the players are being asked, combined with the overall atmosphere that exists today around the Wachovia Center, and you would think the Flyers were the ones with the lead in this series. The Flyers have been able to keep winning on the strength of their resiliency and ability to overcome adversity, yet after a big win in Game 3 it seems as though we may be getting a bit obsessed with just how resilient this team may be.

True, the Flyers certainly seem to keep finding any and every way to win against supposedly better teams, but the Blackhawks are still in complete control of this series. So who is the pressure on? Is it the Flyers, as they look to even up the series tonight at home or is it on the Blackhawks, who have a chance to take a commanding 3-1 lead before heading back to Chicago.

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette says his team has been in this position all season long, and one win won’t change that.

“The pressure, I think, is more for teams that are expected to win, as the Blackhawks are, and everybody picked them before the Series,” Laviolette said after this morning’s skate. “We don’t concede anything. We feel like we’ve got a confident group that’s capable of winning hockey games. But I don’t know if we feel the pressure as much. We’re trying to keep it light. We’re trying to have a whole bunch of fun.”

As much as it’s possible to get a read on a locker room, you’d certainly have to agree with Laviolette. The Flyers are just a supremely confident team right now, saying all the right things and embracing the role they’ve developed this postseason. They know the pressure is on to win tonight, but they are still focused on just playing the game that got them to this point. Kimmo Timonen says the Flyers have to embrace the chance they have tonight.

“This will be the most important game in our team and for most of these players’ lives,” he said. “We got to go out there and do our job. Obviously, it’s a big game but we have to be able to relax and not panic and play our game and make sure we do our jobs. We know this is the key game for us to hopefully tie up the series.”

The difference between 2-2 and 3-1 is tremendous. A loss tonight, and the Flyers will be right back to playing with their backs against the wall. Ian Laperriere said today that this team was the most resilient he’s ever been a part of in his career and that the Flyers are at their best when they absolutely must win.

The Blackhawks might have something to say about that, however. When asked about Laviolette’s comments, Patrick Kane responded "..well, that’s just mind games” and shrugged off questions about the pressure being on the Blackhawks.

“We don’t feel any pressure. We feel we’re in the driver’s seat, up 2-1. We’re in a great position, we win this one we can go back home and hopefully do some special things in front of that crowd. I think we’re in a great position.”

Despite the 2-1 series lead, there’s no doubting that the Flyers have been the better team on the ice since the third period of Game 2. They’ve controlled the flow of the play, and have even been able to step up to the speed of the game that Chicago enjoys and beat them at doing so. Patrick Sharp agrees that the Hawks certainly need to get better.

“At times we’re playing the game we want, we’re having good stretches but there’s certainly room for improvement. We have yet to play our best game, but sometimes you have to give the other team credit.”

A lot of the focus has been on “pressure” and which team is feeling it more. Let’s just settle and say that both teams are in the Stanley Cup finals, in a tightly contested series; there’s tremendous pressure on both of these teams.

Yet talking to the players, and the way the media is approaching tonight’s game, there’s no doubting the feeling that the Flyers have the momentum in the series at the moment. Does that mean that the pressure is squarely on the Hawks and that the Flyers are just playing with house money at this point? Possibly, and it certainly shows in each team’s demeanor.

No matter what is said, however, the true measure will come tonight.