The Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers continue their series on this Easter Day at high noon. The Flyers had two days to relive the horror of Game 1 and hopefully that’s enough time for them to figure out what it’s going to take to at least make this next game competitive.
Probably the biggest story line going into this game for the Philadelphia Flyers is that Steve Mason has not yet been cleared to play. He will once again sit out leaving Ray Emery to take up the spot in between the posts with Cal Heeter backing him up. Emery, for all the flack he’s gotten lately from the fans, has played very well recently. In Game 1 he was the only reason the Flyers even had a shot to win that game before the double minor penalty. Those goals that the Rangers scored on the power play couldn’t be saved by Patrick Roy in his prime. Is there drop-off from Steve Mason to Ray Emery? Sure, but it isn’t much.
For all the negativity surrounding the Flyers rookie Jason Akeson, he arguably had the best game of any Flyers player. He happened to be the lone player to post a positive shot differential but most people will point to his high-sticking penalty as to why he needs to sit. The thing is, is that the Flyers up until that point were getting hammered in every facet of the game. They couldn’t keep possession of the puck, they were struggling to get out of their defensive zone, and were relying way too much on dumping the puck in the Rangers zone to create offense. All those issues compounded and eventually the Rangers were able to break through in the third period and run away with the game.
One of the keys to the Flyers winning this game in The Garden is puck possession. Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Brayden Schenn, these guys need to help push play through the neutral zone by keeping the puck on their stick to set up some semblance of an offense. Too many times did the Flyers dump the puck in, get beaten to it on the back boards, only to see it cleared in about five seconds. It was incredibly frustrating to watch, I can only imagine how the Flyers were feeling experiencing it on the ice.
And finally, the Flyers need to play with some urgency, albeit a controlled urgency. From that initial puck drop the Flyers need to exhibit some kind of fire that leads to some sustained offense. Plays like Scott Hartnell‘s that lead to the first goal scored by Andrew MacDonald need to become the norm if they want to win this series.
So, here we are entering Game 2, the fans are freaking out, our starting goaltender is injured, and we’re all expecting the worse. This is Philadelphia sports fandom, and I’m damn glad to be a part it.
Let’s Go Flyers