With their loss on Wednesday the Flyers allowed the Rangers to grab a 2-1 series lead, but it was not for a lack of effort on the their part. In total the Flyers generated 80 shot attempts, but for all of their effort they only produced 1 goal over the course of the game.
Here are some of my thoughts on game 3 and some things to look for in game 4.
Getting shots to the net
As mentioned above, the Flyers generated a lot of shot attempts, which is never a bad thing. It shows that they were able to control possession in the Rangers’ end. Of the 80 shot attempts 32 made it to the net, 28 shots were blocked by the Rangers, and the remaining shots missed everything completely.
It would appear that this is more an issue of quality vs. quantity. Even though Henrik Lundqvist is an exceptional goalie he can be beaten, but it requires quality score chances; he does not allow many soft goals and is very composed in the net. To remedy this the Flyers need to fire less shots from the point, where we have seen they can easy be blocked, and cycle the puck more effectively to get the Rangers moving to open shooting lanes.
More support during puck battles
It seemed during every loose puck opportunity the Flyers were outnumbered by the Rangers, that simply cannot happen. The Flyers need to be able to match the intensity of the Rangers in these instances along the boards. I’ve said it before, controlling the puck possession and cycling will lead to goals, which is something the Flyers have been struggling with throughout the series.
Mason makes his return tonight
After almost two weeks Steve Mason is returning from injury to start in net for the Flyers. I think Ray Emery played very well in the first two games of the series. He kept the Flyers in it in game 1 until things came undone in the 3rd period and practically stole them one in game 2. Game 3 wasn’t his best performance, but the entire team left a lot to be desired in that one.
So what does Mason presence in net change for the Flyers?
I think his puck moving abilities are a huge asset that have been missed in the first 3 games. His ability to get behind the net and play the puck before the Rangers can setup their forecheck may play an important role in the game tonight. Aside from disrupting the forecheck this can help to setup the Flyers’ defense for zone breakouts, which in turn is important for generating rushes up ice and overall offensive flow. It will be interesting to see how the Flyers respond with Mason back between the pipes.
A few side notes:
I have seen a lot hate floating around for Giroux lately and I don’t completely understand why. He may not have scored thus far in the series, but through 3 games he has generated 2 points. It’s not like he has been invisible on the ice, he has been making plays at both ends and has demonstrated all around good play to this point. Before pointing any fingers it is important to realize that the Flyers’ offensive talent is very deep, but there has been little goal scoring all around; the blame does not fall solely on Giroux.
Also, the fans at the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday were terrible. Check out our own Bobby Campbell’s article on what booing can do the team during critical points in the game. I completely agree with him on this and the purpose of home ice is to help rally the team not bring them down; that includes booing them during the powerplay and also being completely silent for long stretches of the game. For too long during the game Wednesday was the crowd extremely quiet. The crowd needs to stay in the game just as much as the players themselves, so get loud and stay loud Flyers fans.