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GREENBERG: How to bounce back

Flyers columnist looks at how the Flyers can break the Rangers wall of shot blocking

Thursday, 04.24.2014 / 5:00 PM ET / News
By Jay Greenberg  - philadelphiaflyers.com
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GREENBERG: How to bounce back
The puck is not getting through. Nevertheless, the Flyers can still clear some room by clearing their brains, more than by whatever high tech adjustments they make on a struggling power play.

Of course some Flyers power play goals would help but the Rangers didn’t need any to win Game Three and they are not a requirement to win Game 4. 

That’s a tight Ranger box, but the Flyers don’t have overcomplicate things for themselves to break it.  What they have to do, to win this game at even strength or on special teams, is:




The forward without the puck takes one potential shot blocker to the net, opening up precious room for the late guy. And the late guys – defensemen jumping up into the play – have been the Flyers’ best guys in the series.



We mean, not just to the man coming late, but with a shot or two launched at eye level, if only to loosen a little of the steely Ranger resolve to risk their limbs and faces. Nothing targeted and vicious, just a little something to complicate the thoughts of a few handsome and debonair New Yorkers.



Scoring first would help, but Game Three was the first one where the team that got the first goal won. The problem with mentality of first goal or die is what if you don’t get it? Getting down 2-0 for a third straight game, would be a very bad idea, however. In Games One and Two, the Flyers had more blocked shots than the Rangers by a wide margin, a reminder that rope-a-dope only works when you have a working lead.



It worked in ’97 when Ron Hextall came on for Garth Snow after a Game Two clunker. Hextall outplayed Mike Richter the rest of the way, and at that stage of Hexy’s career, nobody would have predicted that. In 2011, Peter Laviolette undid a bad decision to start Michael Leighton in Game 6 in Buffalo by making an in-game change to Brian Boucher. Flyers rallied to win in overtime and dominated in Game 7.

Steve Mason probably has picked up some rust, but also a reserve of adrenaline that can work for the Flyers Friday night.



That goes for fans and Flyers alike. Brayden Schenn, for one, is gripping his stick very tight and was on for the last two Ranger goals in Game Three. He is not in this alone, not a bad thing to remind yourself as you go about other duties besides scoring. Claude Giroux has largely been stifled but he is not playing uptight, exponentially increasing the odds of a breakout by a star with 57 points in 53 career playoff games. As long as the Captain believes the Flyers still will win this, they can.



As we said, it is hard to get a frustrated power play going in mid-series, when the penalty killing confidence of the opposition is growing with each kill and the people who pay good money to boo power plays are in full voice. No wonder the Flyers’ road power play is so much better than the road version. And, hey, the Flyers still have the road team advantage for two more games this series.

Currently that seam pass either to or from Giroux for one-timers is not there, and neither is the lane to Wayne Simmonds at the post for either the one-time pass or the turn stuff. So the pucks predictably go up top, and the Rangers line up like the Rockettes to kick them out.

So yeah, there has to be a new plan other than just more of the pump fakes publicly suggested by Craig Berube. He wouldn’t be telling us that if there wasn’t another strategy. Game Three turned on a crank by Dan Girardi that exploded over a screened Ray Emery’s shoulder. Damn however many Rangers aspire to block it, Mark Streit has the best slapshot on the Flyers. It should be used.



The story of Game Three was the Rangers’ shot blocking, and they didn’t score on the power play either. But three minor penalties in the first period did not help the Flyers to the start they needed.

Meanwhile Benoit Pouliot took a couple of dumb penalties to cancel Ranger power plays, and Dan Carcillo remains Dan Carcillo, reminder that the Rangers aren’t always under the best of control, either. They can hurt themselves, same as the Flyers.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 78 22 45 -8 67
W. Simmonds 81 32 28 -7 60
B. Schenn 80 26 33 3 59
J. Voracek 73 11 44 -5 55
S. Gostisbehere 64 17 29 8 46
S. Couturier 63 11 28 8 39
M. Raffl 82 13 18 9 31
M. Read 79 11 15 -5 26
M. Streit 62 6 17 -1 23
S. Laughton 71 7 14 -2 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 23 19 10 .918 2.51
M. Neuvirth 18 8 4 .924 2.27
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