When you reach the end of your rope you need more guys pulling. It can be almost as simple as that for the Flyers.
The one edge almost everyone gave them coming into this series was their depth of offense over four lines. But Ranger forwards have outscored Philadelphia forwards 13 goals to seven. So the Flyers won’t force a Game 7 unless...
The Flyers have shown not enough speed coming through the middle for most of the series, not because the Rangers are significantly faster but because they are well positioned. The Flyers have to react quicker and simply pass – and receive -- better than they have been leaving the zone. Too many outlet passes are going off too many sticks or missing their targets. The result is not enough offensive zone time, either off the rush or dump-ins.
“I think we can counter quicker,” said Craig Berube. “[The Rangers] are quick and recover quick but there are opportunities when our D go back and they could move the puck quicker and catch them. “
“I know I have to be better,” says Claude Giroux, who in Game 5 scored his first goal on one of his going-to-one-knee specials and had a series high six shots. Maybe that was a sign of life leading into that one game where the most talented player in the series goes off, what the Flyers all along have figured to need to win.
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If there is one overriding factor trumping all others through the mood swings of five games, it is the job the Rangers, who have the quickness to counter one of the fastest set of hands in the business, are doing on Giroux. Whether being matched against the Rangers’ top line or their checking line, he has not had the puck enough.
Berube, not much of a tinkerer, tried to help Giroux – and Brayden Schenn, too – by moving Schenn to the top line in the third period. It didn’t produce any dramatic change of fortune for either player. Not enough Flyer forwards are looking sharp enough to present Berube better brainstorms going forward, so his Plan C probably has to be to go back to Plan A, which always has been…
Game 5 was the first time in the series the Rangers won the traffic battle of the goalmouth. Still the reason the Flyers are behind is they haven’t been there enough.
Don’t blame Wayne Simmonds, who needs more help from his linemates to make life difficult for Henrik Lundqvist. The Ranger goalie has not been stoning players because he hasn’t had to be. The Flyers’ last rebound goal, unless you count Matt Reed’s off the backboard, was in Game 2.
Steve Mason played an excellent Game 4 on adrenalin. But some rust seemed to catch up to him early in Game 5, when he didn’t fully track Marc Staal’s dipper off the rush that opened the scoring.
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Mason’s vision was obscured at the last second but it is the kind of shot a goalie gobbles up when fully on his game.
After not cleanly handling John Moore’s drive, Mason got lucky on an erroneous early whistle that negated a Martin St. Louis score.
Mason didn’t erase any good chances until the third period, when he looked more comfortable. If he is not good in Game 6, we will be surprised.
Berube thought Game 4 was lost in the first 20 minutes when, thanks largely to a big Flyers edge in faceoff wins, they had the puck a lot and ended up with nothing to show for it but another deficit.
You use up so much more energy trying to come back.
All this never-say-die stuff that put the Flyers in the playoffs has left them one more bad period from the death of their season. They need a lead.