After falling 4-2 in game five at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers, the Philadelphia Flyers face a 3-2 deficit in the best of seven series. Philadelphia will now have to win both remaining games, home and away, to advance to the second round.
Game five was an embarrassing effort for the Flyers. Carrying a large amount of momentum after winning game four at home, and seeing the return of Steve Mason, Philadelphia expected to put up more of a fight.
The Flyers saw some changes to their lines before the game.
First, Mason made his first start at Madison Square Garden in the series after returning from injury. Ray Emery had started the first three games of the series before being pulled in game three. Mason also made 37 saves in game four.
However, the Rangers continued to assert their dominance against Philadelphia in the Garden with the win.
The passes weren’t sharp, shots weren’t getting through to the net, a problem the Flyers have faced all series, and they still have been ineffective on special teams. It’s the most frustrating thing to watch, and likely more difficult to be a part of on the ice.
Both Claude Giroux and Vincent Lecavalier netted their first goals of the series in game five, but it was all too little too late.
The Flyers likely reached their lowest point, morale wise, when Dominic Moore stripped the puck away from Hal Gill in the Philadelphia defensive zone and put one past Mason to make it 3-0.
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This play made Gill the scapegoat for Flyers fans, who had only played six games during the regular season. However, the play wasn’t entirely his fault.
Braydon Coburn made a quick, panicked pass that tangled up the 39-year-old Gill, and Moore simply took advantage.
Many fans would rather see Erik Gustafsson as the guy who replaced Nicklas Grossman, but head coach Craig Berube felt Gill had a closer play style to Grossman, and would fill in better at that spot.
The offense also continued their struggles. Philadelphia converted on one of five powerplays, despite having a couple back-to-back chances.
Berube was changing the lines all game. Top-line winger Scott Hartnell was moved down to the second line alongside Lecavalier and Wayne Simmonds, while Brayden Schenn was moved to the top line with Giroux and Jakub Voracek.
Game six will likely see changes, and despite the error, Gill will likely remain in the lineup. Berube would be remiss to not make lineup changes for the forwards, but he seems to like the lines he has because they have proven to be effective.
The Flyers now face elimination with every game, and will need to play more desperate than New York to pull off the upset.
Odds are they won’t, and that’s a tough truth to swallow.
It’s not a stretch to expect them to force a game seven, but the likelihood of them being able to win two straight, including a game seven on foreign ice, is slim.
The offense will need to find its’ stride, or they’ll have a long offseason to figure out what went wrong.
HartnellDown Tracker: Scott sits at 27 HartnellDowns in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.