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“View from the Philly Pressbox” – Flyers-Devils, Game 4

In Philadelphia Flyers on May 7, 2012 at 7:15 pm

In this addition of the “View from the Philly Pressbox” we take a look at Game 4 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 offensive, well and defensive, effort in Game 4 was an embarrassment. They managed only 22 total shots on Brodeur, 7 in the 1st period, 5 in the 2nd period and 10 in the 3rd period. The Flyers not only continued to struggle against the Devils tight checking, they actually seemed to have gotten worse. They couldn’t get the puck out of their own zone to create offensive chances and when they did they were being beaten along the boards on a continuous basis. Several Flyers appeared to get out muscled on a regular basis, one being Eric Gustaffson. He has been pushed around in the last two games in a bad way. Not to single out the rookie, Brayden Coburn, Matt Carle, Nick Grossman and Kimmo Timonen all had their problems with turnovers. Honestly, it looked like the Devils were on the power play the entire game. The Flyers have only managed 28 shots in a game in this series one time in regulation, Game 1, and they won the game. Martin Brodeur may be the greatest goalie to have ever played the game and you won’t beat him, even at 40 years old if you don’t consistently put pressure on him by shooting the puck.

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:  Sean Couturier was deemed ready to go after the morning skate. This appeared to be good news for the Flyers especially in the penalty kill area. As it turned out Couturier saw only 7:08 of total ice time for the game. Only Eric Wellwood played less. If Couturier couldn’t go he shouldn’t have played. If he could go he should’ve been on the ice more. Max Talbot, Claude Giroux and Matt Read were the forwards used mostly on the penalty kill and they did a nice job with Giroux scoring with the assist from Talbot.

There was still no Andreas Mesazaros siting. With possibly only one game left in the series it may be best not to risk Mesazaros at all during this series.

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 only had two power play opportunities and scored on one of them, Scott Hartnell from Giroux and Timonen for the first goal of the game. The Devils would not allow themselves to be baited in to penalties while playing well-disciplined, solid hockey. The Flyers relied heavily on the power play in the run-and-shoot series with the Penguins but the Devils would have none of that. To beat the Devils it needed to be done 5 on 5 and the Flyers have not been up to the task. The 1-2 power play in Game 4 makes the Flyers 3-18, 16.7%.

Defensively, the Flyers frustration and lack of discipline made them look like the Penguins. The goalie interference against Hartnell was a weak call, at best. The Giroux penalty, for hitting Danius Zubrus with a deliberate shot to the head, was uncalled for, and has resulted in a one game suspension. It’s the same garbage that Flyer fans got all over the Penguins for. Giroux is much to good of a player to resort to that. Overall, the Flyers were called for 5 minor penalties with Petr Sykora converting one of them, at the 15:14 mark of the 1st period, that brought the Devils, and their fans, back in to the game. The last Flyers penalty on Timonen with only 3:36 remaining in the game and trailing by a goal was another crusher. It was nothing more than a tired penalty by Timonen, who got beat and had to hang on and hope the referee didn’t make the call. He did. The Flyers could not afford to be shorthanded as the game clock was running down.  The Devils are now 3-14 on the power play, 21.4%. At the end of the night, being shorthanded 5 times against a team that commits just 2 penalties will get you beat.

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 in big trouble. Their overall work ethic, hustle and determination are being questioned. That is the ultimate insult to an athlete. We don’t think that the hustle is a problem as much as not winning any battles. The Devils seem to always have five players in the Flyers offensive zone against three Flyers and when the puck goes back to the blue line the Flyers defense is retreating rather than forcing the play back in to the offensive zone. The Devils are breaking out and creating odd man rushes against the two defensemen. There seems to be a great deal of uncertainty among the defensemen on what to do, push forward or drop back. As we stated after Game 3, we’re not big on constant changing and mixing up of the lines looking for something that will click. Although no one has been a standout 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: After getting hit with 31 shots in Game 3, Bryz faced 43 more in Game 4. The Devils came out flying again and fired 16 shots in the 1st period and 16 more in the 2nd. Bryz kept the Flyers in the game with the Devils leading just 3-2 after two periods but being out shot 32-12. Bryz continued to hold down the fort in the 3rd period while facing another 11 shots without giving up a goal. Due to Bryzgalov’s play the Flyers actually had a chance to tie the game, and possibly win it, until Zubrus scored his empty net goal with :45 remaining in the game. Bryzgalov takes none of the blame for this lose, Without him playing as well as he did the Devils could’ve won this one by a touchdown.

Prediction – Well, we will never pick the Flyers to lose until the last second ticks off the clock of the final game but it sure doesn’t look good. The one game suspension to Giroux will only make the upward climb even more difficult.  Other than the play of Bryzgalov there isn’t much good to say about this series. We expected a much better overall effort from the Flyers. We expected to see game by game improvements to attack and counterattack the opposition and we haven’t seen any of that. Have the Flyers been out coached or just outplayed, or both? We expected another great series from Giroux and we haven’t seen much.

To say we’re disappointed is putting it mildly. We have to take our hats off to the Devils for dominating in every facet of the game and series. With that said, the series is not over and we’ll get to see what this Flyer team is really made of. Will they bounce back and win Game 5 to play another day or will they come out and be frustrated goons running at players and spending the game in the penalty box?

Our prediction is still that the Flyers will win the series in seven games. Am I dreaming?

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

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  1. Based on what I have seen the last three games, the Flyers are done. However, they have proven to be a resilient bunch the last couple of years. Not many people thought they would come back from 0-3 down after losing 4-1 at home against Boston in Game 3. They made history and won that series and a lot of those guys are still on the roster. Last year, things didn’t look good after losing Game 5 at home to Buffalo in OT and they won the last two games to win the series. My eyes say this is done, but I also think one game can turn this around just like it did in 2010-2011. The Flyers played with no sense of urgency last night which was shocking. If you lived in a cave over the last week, you would have thought the Devils were down 2-1 in the series. They played with desperation while the Flyers just seemed to be skating around. The Bryz that played against Pittsburgh would have given up 7 goals in the second period alone last night. He has been great in this series. Only Briere has been better. Would love to see a Game 6. The Devils have had some bad playoff collapses in that building since it opened. Need to give that team a chance to choke.

    • Kevin,
      I’m trying to get my arms around if the Flyers showed up with no urgency or they’re just that much better of a hockey team. Like I said it seemed like a game long power play. I’m disappointed in what looks like a lack of effort but that so unlike these guys. I’ll be rooting for them but it’s not looking good!!!

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