PHILADELPHIA – After he had finished addressing the media, Claude Giroux asked to see the final box score.
It was handed to him and he glanced at it quickly. He saw enough. He shook his head and handed it back.
It wasn’t the final score that was eating away at him – although a 4-1 loss in Game 3 of the First Round series to the Rangers that put the Flyers in a 2-1 series hole was disappointing – but instead it was another number.
That’s the number of shots the Flyers fired in the direction of the Rangers goal. Of course, not all of them got through. That would be some kind of record for a 60-minute game. But a mere 32 found their way to Henrik Lundqvist.
The other 48? They were either blocked or missed the net entirely.
The Flyers wanted to do two things in Game 3. They wanted to control the puck and possess it more than the Rangers. They succeeded in that regard.
But they also wanted to get a lot of shots on goal and make Lundqvist work. And while 32 shots isn’t chopped liver, when you have nearly as many blocked, it’s a good bet you aren’t getting the type of quality you want out of your shot selection.
“We need quicker puck movement and a little more deception,” coach Craig Berube said of his team’s shot selection. “We can’t just one-time it all the time. I think you have to fake it, move a little bit and get the shots through.”
|The Flyers did a nice job forechecking, as Brayden Schenn is doing here, and gaining puck possession, but getting shots through was a mighty chore. |
It was the difference in a game that will seem more lopsided than it was by looking at the final score.
Sure there were errors that led to the New York goals. A bad line change; a defensive misread; a slow-developing back check. But the Rangers blocking shots at will is what seemed to break the Flyers spirit.
Only three Rangers skaters didn’t block a shot. The Flyers defensive corps had the hardest time getting the pucks on net as Braydon Coburn, Mark Streit and Kimmo Timonen each had four shots blocked.
“I don’t think we played that bad of a game,” Timonen said. “But we have to do things a little bit quicker because they block a lot of shots. They do a really good job in front of their goalie. I got to give them a lot of credit. They do a good job of finding lanes.
“Everything has to happen quicker. We can’t let them settle. We have to get pucks through somehow. They do a really good job but I’m sure we’re going to watch some tape and find a way to get pucks through.”
Berube was especially concerned with the power play’s inability to generate much toward the net as the Flyers were 0-for-5 with the man advantage.
“It’s too predictable what we are doing with Giroux and Timonen,” Berube said. “We need to move it around more. We need to get it in [Jake] Voracek’s hands more. There’s some things we have to do and we’ll make adjustments.”
Streit, who scored the Flyers lone goal, suggested trying to take advantage of the Rangers propensity to go down to one knee to block shots.
“They go on one knee to cover more of the net,” Streit said. “That’s an opportunity. If they go down on one knee, they can’t move. So, we need to fake shots, take it wide and then get it on net and then get to the rebounds.”
It sounds simple. But against the Rangers, it’s not. Nevertheless, the Flyers have a couple of days to figure it out before their first real must-win game of the season in Game 4 Friday,
We’ll be ready for Game 4,” Giroux said. “We’re going to tie up this series and go back to New York. We just have to stay confident. That’s why it’s playoffs. It’s exciting. We’re going to come off even better in Game 4.”
Another prediction from the captain. The city hopes he’s got that magic touch again.
NOTES: Steve Mason played the final 7:15 of the game and made three saves. Berube wouldn’t name a starter for Game 4 but it seems likely that Mason will finally get his chance come Friday… One guy who was able to get shots on goal was Luke Schenn, who fired five times on Lundqvist. He also played well defensively and finished the game with four hits… the Flyers were better in the faceoff circle in Game 3 winning 54 percent of their draws… Giroux finished with two shots on goal – his first two of the series – and picked up his second assist of the playoffs on Streit’s goal. Flyers defensemen have now scored three of the six goals for the team in the playoffs.
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