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“View from the Philly Pressbox” – Flyers-Devils, Game 3

In Philadelphia Flyers on May 6, 2012 at 10:17 am

In this addition of the “View from the Philly Pressbox” we take a look at Game 3 of the Round 2 matchup between the Flyers and the New Jersey Devils in the “Chase for Lord Stanley’s Cup”. In our preview we identified our keys to the series. We will review and analyze these keys and how they affected the outcome of the game.

Following are the keys for the Flyers to win this series:

  • ·        Shoot the puck at Martin Brodeur, minimum 28 shots per game.
  • ·        Stay Healthy
  • ·        Special Teams
  • ·        Full team participation
  • ·        Ilya Bryzgalov

Shoot the puck at Martin Brodeur, minimum 28 shots per game – We were going to break this key point in to three separate points. The Flyers must shoot the puck at the future Hall of Famer, Brodeur. They cannot afford in get in to tight checking, close games with 15-20 shots per game or Brodeur can steal the series. The Devils have been very successful playing this style of hockey for years. The Flyers need to control the pace of the game by working end-to-end and getting the lead early in the games forcing the Devils out of their system. If the Flyers fall behind in the series as they did in Round 1, and throughout most of the season, they could find themselves in trouble. Get out of “the room” quick, and at full speed, and the Flyers will be in control.

Result: The Flyers  continue to struggle against the Devils tight checking. They are being beatin in the battles along the boards on a continuous basis, as a result they are not getting the shots on Brodeur. In Game 3, the Flyers managed 28 shots, but it took them nearly four periods to get them. At the end of regulation they had only 22 shots, with just 6 coming in the 3rd period when they needed an offensive push. Obviously, this isn’t good enough  to beat Brodeur. Lastly, the Flyers seem to have reverted back to the old “dump and chase” style of years gone by. Even when they control the puck in their own zone they’re able to eat up time but not generate shots. Credit goes to the Devils defense and shot blocking, however, for the Flyers to win this series they need to solve the Devils and get their shots on Brodeur. 

Stay Healthy – Like the Pittsburgh series this is expected to be very physical. The difference is that you won’t see the lack of discipline that you saw from the Penguins. The Flyers will be getting a healthy Nick Grossman back for Game 1. This will allow Peter Laviolette to spread the minutes among more defensemen, lightening the ice time of Braydon Coburn, Matt Carle and Kimmo Timonen. Each of these guys played a ton of minutes in the first series. James van Riemsdyk should continue to see more ice time as he gets his legs back under him playing in the last two games of the Pittsburgh series.

Another key addition to the Flyers lineup could be defenseman Andrej Mesazaros. There’s an outside chance that Mesazaros could play later in the series.

Result:  We have waited to post this article to provide the latest update on Sean Couturier, and it doesn’t look good. As of Sunday morning it seems doubtful that the standout, rookie center of the checking line, will not be ready to go. This will be a huge lose for the Flyers. Couturier had done a good job on Ilya Kovalchuk in the first two games. Once Couturier left Game 3, Kovulchuk responded with a goal and two assists. Couturiers replacement will likely be the penalty machine, Zac Rinaldo. Rinaldo brings energy that may help in other areas, but he does not bring a defensive game and cannot hurt the team with needless or over aggressive penalties.

It does not appear that Andreas Mesazaros is ready to play yet, although all indication are he is getting closer to returning. The Flyers have been mum on his return.

Special Teams – The Flyers special team work in Round 1 was devastating. They scored on 11 of 23 power play opportunities, a staggering 47.8%. They also added 3 shorthanded goals. The Penguins had no idea how to defense the Flyers special teams. We don’t expect them to maintain that pace against the Devils; however, we do expect them to be good again in Round 2. The Flyers have so many weapons, regardless of which group is on the ice, they will pressure the Devils throughout the series. The Devils scored 15 shorthanded goals during the regular season, while the Flyers had 6, so the Flyers cannot be reckless.

On defense, the Flyers must stay disciplined and out of the penalty box. The Devils have goal scorers. Ilya Kovalchuk led the Devils with 10 power play goals during the regular season, while David Clarkson and Patrik Elias added 8 each. Zach Parisi added 7. If the Flyers are shorthanded more than 3 times a game they will allow the Devils to stay in the series.

Result: The Flyers were 1-5 on the power play in Game 3 and are now 2-16 for the series. The Flyers brought a scorching hot power play in to this series and now that strength has become a weakness. The Flyers did get on the board first with a Brayden Shenn power play goal at 6:08 of the 1st period with assists to Briere and Jagr. The Flyers had two golden power play opportunities in overtime but couldn’t get the job done. Obviously, to extend the series the Flyers need to straighten out the power play, and quick.

Defensively, the Flyers did a great job of staying out of the penalty box. They were only whistled for two minor penalties. Unfortunetly, one of those led to a power play goal by Patrik Elias that tied the score 1-1 in the 1st period, 20 seconds later Kovalchuk scored and the entire complexion of the game changed. The Devils are now 2-9 on the power play. Overall, the Flyers are doing a good job in this area.

Full Team Participation – The Flyers had 13 different players score goals in the Pittsburgh series. They were led by Claude Giroux with 6 and Danny Briere with 5. They also had 15 players on the score sheet with assists. Giroux led the way with 8, Jaromir Jagr added 6 and Jakub Voracek added 5. What these numbers indicate is contributions from every member of the team, regardless of the line they were playing on or what defensive pairing they were in. Only Eric Wellwood and Andres Lilja played in all six games and didn’t get credited with a point, however, both provided significant contributors.

Result:  The Flyers are now struggling to get any participation  they seem out of cinque in nearly all facets of the game. Lavy has made the decision to continue to change and mix up his lines looking for something that will click. We aren’t a believer in this unless nothing else works. The Flyers seem to be trying to find match ups with the Devils instead of forcing the Devils to find match ups for the Flyers. The lack of continuity seems to be hurting the Flyers.

Ilya Bryzgalov –  Bryzgalov is not as bad as he looked at times in the Pittsburgh series. When the Flyers tightened their game Bryz played well. The Flyers are good enough on offense that Bryz doesn’t have to be tremendous every night; he just needs to be good. The Flyers won’t face an offensive team like the Penguins again in the East and Bryz’s game will improve accordingly. What the Flyers cannot afford is a meltdown by Bryz. If the Flyers will play tight, solid defense from the start of this series Bryz will play well.

Result: Bryzgalov played well in Game 3. He faced 31 shots in all, 1 in the 1st period when the Flyers were on their heels and he held his ground. The power play goal by Elias and Kovalchuk being left alone coming down the slot were unstoppable. Entering the series it seemed that Bryzgalov’s inconsistent play would be critical, as it’s turned out the Flyers getting beat in battles on the boards has been the story of series. Bryz may still need to steal a game before the series is over.  

Prediction – Obviously we were not right on our prediction of the Flyers in 5 games. We do feel they must accomplish the keys that were identified in order to win. Our biggest surprise in the series is the Flyers inability to win battles. Toughness has always been a Flyers trademark and they need to get it back. They must get more shots on Brodeur if they’re to win this series. We’re believers that Game 3 is alway the most critical game of a series because it’s often the swing game as this one was. Advantage Devils. For the Flyers, obviously, Game 4 is the “must” game.  Our feeling is that the Flyers will respond with a big Game 4 that will put them back even and gain the home ice advantage back.

It was easy to think the Flyers were going to dominate this series after the offensive fireworks in the Pittsburgh series. We can all agree that the Flyers have not adjusted to this tight checking series very quickly, yet Game 3 could’ve gone either way and the Flyers could very well be ahead 2-1 rather than behind 2-1. The Flyers must dictate the pace of the game and get more than a one goal lead that they can hold on to. Lastly, if Couturier can not go they will need someone, likely Read or Giroux, to step up and shutdown  Kovalcuk. We expect big efforts from the veteran leaders, Briere, Hartnell, Jagr, Timonen and Coburn tonight and for the Flyers to win.

Our prediction is still that the Flyers will win the series but it will take seven games with none more important than tonight.

 

“GOOD NIGHT and GOOD HOCKEY”…….Gene Hart

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  1. The biggest concern for the Flyers coming into this series was how they would adjust to playing real playoff hockey. Say what you want, but that Penguin series did nothing to get the Flyers ready for this or any future round. There were two games in that series where 13 goals were scored. Most playoff games have 5 or 6 goals scored. The Flyers have needed a minimum of 4 goals to win all but one of their playoff games. If that trend continues, they are done. At some point, they will need to win a 3-2 or 2-1 game. That is the way these games are played.. 3 goals would have won every game in the other Eastern Conference series. Guys need to step up, block shots, and sacrifice their bodies instead of standing around and watching a guy skate in a circle before making a pass that sets up a 2 on 1 in Overtime. It is also time for Giroux to start playing. He has been MIA for the first 3 games of this series. Time for him to show he’s a top player. Any stats compiled in Round 1 are overstated. On the positive side, Briere has been great in this series. Easily down 3-0 without him. He needs help.

    • Couldn’t agree more. The Penguins series made the Flyers look like scoring machines. Brodeur and the Devils don’t give up that many goals in a month. The Flyers are finding that out. I still feel the Flyers overall are more talented across the board but they’re being out worked for the puck. There have been many times that the Devils have all 5 guys digging for a puck on the side boards. We have one.althought the announcers are saying its not a trap it’s not much different than they’ve played for years it’s just more aggressive than it used to be. Brodeur is still good but you have to test him a lot and he’ll give up goals. Win Game 4 and we’re back in business. I expect a great effort from the Flyers tonight.

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