The Philadelphia Flyers finally found a way to win at Madison Square Garden after dropping nearly their last 10 in New York.
Philadelphia’s start to the Stanley Cup Playoffs has not been ideal. After first losing Steve Mason to injury in one of their final games of the regular season, Ray Emery was handed the reigns and given the daunting task of replacing Mason.
The Flyers also dropped game one of the series with the New York Rangers, with a 4-1 loss.
That score is misleading to those who didn’t watch the game, however. Both teams battled to a 1-1 tie until about halfway through the final period. Winger Jason Akeson proceeded to attempt a check on a Ranger player as he skated up the boards. His stick got up in the air and caught Carl Hagelin in the mouth, and drew blood, resulting in a double minor and four minutes of powerplay for New York.
New York scored shortly into their first powerplay, and then continued to do the same in their second. The game that seemed to have an incredibly realistic opportunity for a Flyers’ win slipped from Philadelphia’s fingers in a matter of minutes.
Game two started the same way game one had ended. The Rangers scored two goals in the first 10 minutes of play, and looked like they were the only team with any heart on the ice.
After the second goal, Jakub Voracek could be seen trying to lift the spirits of his teammates on the bench. Shortly after he used his quick speed to get behind the defense, make a good move on goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, and scored the Flyers first goal of the game.
For someone not wearing a “C” or “A” on his sweater, it was an outstanding show of leadership.
The Flyers went on to score three unanswered goals, and captured game two to tie the series at 1-1.
Had the Flyers dropped that game, the chance to win the series would be almost nonexistent. Despite fighting back to win game two, there have been some glaring weaknesses in the Flyers’ play.
The first is the issue the Flyers are having with staying out of the penalty box, one that they’ve battled all year.
In the first two games of the series, the Flyers have visited the penalty box 15 times (Akeson’s double minor was counted as one trip). Some penalties were offset by minors assessed to New York, but regardless, it is far too much.
The Flyers led the NHL in penalties during the regular season, and clearly haven’t changed much since. If the problem isn’t fixed soon, it could become the team’s Achilles heel.
The other major issue in net.
It cannot be understated that Ray Emery has played fantastic hockey, and well beyond what he was expected, but Flyers’ fans would rather see Steve Mason in net after his stellar season.
Emery has made great saves, and bailed his team out on multiple occasions, but New York knows his weakness: Lateral movement.
Emery underwent a hip surgery, for an issue many thought would end his career, not too long after his first stint with the Flyers. He battled back through rehab to get his name on an NHL roster again, and beat the odds.
However, his side-to-side movement isn’t what it once was, and the Rangers know that. A majority of New York’s goals have come on cross-ice passes.
With the recent announcement that Mason will not dress for game three, Emery will again get the start. As long as Emery gets a strong offensive push from his team, he should help Philadelphia secure another win.
Game 3: Tuesday, April 22, at 8 p.m. on TSN2, CNBC, CSN-Philly and MSG.
HartnellDown Tracker: Scott has 16 HartnellDowns in the playoffs.