Game Recap: Rangers Strike Back, Handle Flyers at WFC 4-1


Apr 22, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Rangers center Derek Stepan (21) celebrates with right wing Martin St. Louis (26) after scoring against the Philadelphia Flyers in game three of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Flyers dropped a crucial Game 3 to the New York Rangers, with the final score being 4-1.  The Flyers’ have surrendered the home ice advantage that they gained by stealing a game in New York and now must win again on the road if they hope to win this series.  A number of things went wrong for the Flyers:  their goal-tending was not what it needed to be, their  power play failed to make the necessary adjustments, and the fundamentals were lacking.

Ray Emery played one of the best games of his season in Game 2.  I foolishly believed that the Flyers’ goalie was getting hot, getting ready to go on a run, getting ready to lead his team.  I broke out into applause when I saw him lead his team onto the ice.  This was short-lived.  Emery did not play terrible; defensively the players in front of him were not as astute as they were in Game 2, but what was alarming was the late game goals that were given up.  The Rangers’ 3rd and 4th goals were alarming because those are key moments in the game when you need a goalie to keep you in he game.  What makes Lundqvist one of the best goalies in the league is that he keeps his team in every game; he rarely gives up untimely goals, as the Flyers are quickly realizing.  Whoever starts tomorrow, whether it is Emery or Mason, needs to keep the Flyers in the game by making the big saves in the big moments.  This is not really an adjustment that can be drawn up by a coach or achieved by changing a small mechanic, this is just the mindset that champion goalies have, and if the Flyers  want to compete they need to play like champions, especially their goalie.

The Flyers’ power-play was quite frankly very frustrating in Game 3.  Before the game, the media mad a point of asking the Flyers what they think the issue is with their home power-play woes.  Giroux’s response to the fact that the significantly under-perform on the power-play when they are at home was that they just need to be more patient.  There is a difference between being more patient and being stubborn.  All of the Flyers’ 5 power-plays in Game 3 featured sloppy zone entries followed by a slow game of catch between Giroux and Timonen, ending with either a forced shot or pass.  This cannot happen 5 times in a row.  Giroux, as I stated in my series preview, needs to recognize the need for adjustments.  On 5 on 5 play, he has adjusted so well; he doesn’t force plays, he plays physical and he does everything he can to help not hinder his team.  On the power-play though, he and Timonen will not change their mindset.  They will not pass the puck to Voracek, who has been one of the Flyers’ most dynamic players thus far, and they will not move around, which would cause the Rangers to have to move and  would open up the ice for themselves and Simmonds and Hartnell, who just watch from the slot.  They need to recognize when this stationary setup is not working and adjust accordingly.

Finally, the Flyers fundamentals were not pretty.  They were not winning puck battles, they were not making crisp passes, and their layered fore-check was nowhere to be found.  In Game 2, every puck battle was won by the Flyers, every pass was leading its intended target, not on his off-hand, and there were two players chasing each puck with a third covering passing lanes.  None of this was present and this lack of fundamentals and consistency resulted in a loss.

If the Flyers can get the goal-tending they need in the crucial moments, make necessary adjustments on the power-play, and clean up their fundamentals and system play, they have a clear chance to tie this series up in Game 4.  If they can’t in the subsequent games, expect an early playoff exit from our beloved Bullies, who maybe wouldn’t be so beloved.