NEWARK, NJ - MAY 06: Petr Sykora #15 of the New Jersey Devils celebrates his powerplay goal at 15:14 of the first period against the Philadelphia Flyers in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Prudential Center on May 6, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The 2011-12 hockey season could be over for the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday, and unfortunately, that'd be a pretty fair result. For the third game in a row, the Flyers were completely dominated by the Devils, and they face a 3-1 series hole heading into Game 5 on Tuesday thanks to the 4-2 loss.
Let's get to the bullet points.
- Yet again, the Flyers had no answer to the Devils' plan of attack. They're allowing New Jersey to get in on the forecheck way too easily, and once they establish that pressure, the defense is giving them way too much room with the puck. Conversely, the Devils are giving the Flyers absolutely zero room with the puck in all three zones. That's why they've been outshot 91-42 at even strength since Game 2, and that's why they're losing the series. Plain and simple.
- Games are not usually won with special teams play, and tonight showed that pretty clearly. The Flyers scored a power play goal and a shorthanded goal, yet they couldn't do a thing at 5-on-5. Not a single thing.
- I'm embarrassed, you're embarrassed, the team should be embarrassed. Not simply because they're losing so badly to the Devils in this series, but because the frustration that stems from that losing is coming out in awful, awful ways. Claude Giroux's hit on Dainius Zubrus is a prime example. Is it suspension worthy? Yes. Will he be suspended? Probably not.
- Ilya Bryzgalov was amazing again tonight. He does not deserve criticism and is the only reason the score was respectable in this game.
- Many players have said the same things after tonight's game as they did before the game, after Game 3, before Game 3 and after Game 2, all regarding the approach to the game as weak or "soft." Talkin' the talk, not walkin' the walk.
- Frankly though, this isn't about playing "soft hockey." It's not about being outworked by the Devils, although it's clear that has happened throughout the last few games. It's not about losing puck battles, even though that's happened a lot too. ...
- ... It's more about not having a tactical answer for what the Devils are doing. When a team is having success against you to this level, you have to change your plan of attack to counter them. The Flyers have yet to change a damn thing since Game 2. They've yet to make one adjustment, as far as I can tell. Why is it shocking that the results haven't changed?
The season isn't over. If they're going to beat the Devils, coming back from 3-1 to do so wouldn't be all that bad. But they're going to have to make some kind of change if they want that to happen, because right now, they're just getting slapped in the face. Let's just hope they figure it out enough to get a win on Tuesday night, and then we'll take it from there.