Flyers vs. Rangers: Did home ice help Craig Berube win the Game 3 matchup battle?

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Let's look at how the matchups changed once the series moved to Philadelphia and the Flyers got last change.

Through the first two games of the series, we didn't see much develop in the way of head-to-head matchups between the Flyers and Rangers, but we wondered if maybe that would change in Game 3 with the series shifting to Philadelphia where Craig Berube suddenly had the last change to work with. Let's see if that came to fruition.

Flyers forwards vs. Rangers forwards

F1 / Stepan (11.8) F2 / Richards (10.3) F3 / Brassard (12.2) F4 / D. Moore (8.9)
F1 / Giroux (11.7) 1.8 (+2/-4) 3.8 (+5/-1) 4.3 (+5/-5) 1.3 (+4/-0)
F2 / B. Schenn (11.9) 1.2 (+2/-0) 3.5 (+4/-2) 2.9 (+3/-0) 3.7 (+3/-4)
F3 / Couturier (15.4) 8.5 (+11/-6) 2.5 (+4/-5) 2.3 (+2/-1) 1.6 (+1/-2)
F4 / Hall (6.5) 1.3 (+1/-2) 1.4 (+3/-2) 2 (+4/-0) 1.8 (+4/-0)

How to read this chart: Claude Giroux played 11.7 minutes at 5-on-5. Derek Stepan played 11.8 minutes at 5-on-5. Giroux and Stepan were on the ice together for 1.8 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time, during which the Flyers had two shot attempts and the Rangers had four. Shot numbers are not adjusted for zone starts. Ice time numbers from Extra Skater.

Flyers forwards vs. Rangers defensemen

D1 / McDonagh (15.9) D2 / Staal (15.7) D3 / J. Moore (12.9)
F1 / Giroux (11.7) 5.4 (+8/-6) 4.5 (+5/-4) 1.7 (+5/-0)
F2 / B. Schenn (11.9) 2.8 (+3/-1) 6.8 (+8/-4) 2.8 (+5/-2)
F3 / Couturier (15.4) 6.3 (+8/-6) 3.7 (+6/-4) 5.4 (+4/-4)
F4 / Hall (6.5) 2.6 (+4/-1) 1.2 (+1/-0) 2.5 (+6/-3)

Flyers defensemen vs. Rangers forwards

F1 / Stepan (11.8) F2 / Richards (10.3) F3 / Brassard (12.2) F4 / D. Moore (8.9)
D1 / Timonen (11.7) 3.8 (+4/-5) 1.1 (+4/-1) 4.2 (+3/-3) 2.1 (+1/-2)
D2 / Streit (15.3) 4.6 (+5/-4) 3.5 (+2/-4) 2.9 (+7/-1) 4.1 (+5/-4)
D3 / L. Schenn (16) 2.4 (+4/-2) 5.1 (+7/-4) 3.6 (+4/-2) 4.4 (+7/-4)

Some notes:

* After the first two games we were left wondering if the Flyers would, given the better opportunity with last change, match up top defensive center Sean Couturier with the Rangers' top offensive line in Game 3. And they did, with Couturier shadowing Stepan for nearly three-quarters of the Rangers' top center's ice time. He and his line did a pretty good job against them, too, though he did end up on the ice for one of those two first-period goals.

* Meanwhile, after a lot of power vs. power in Game 2, Claude Giroux's line was spread out against all of the forward lines a fair bit -- which is the benefit of being able to deploy your defensive line against the other team's top line. Weirdly enough, though, Giroux didn't get a ton of ice time to take advantage of that -- his 11.7 minutes at evens were about 2.5 minutes below where he'd be in a usual game. Giroux made a nice play in the neutral zone that helped get the Flyers' their only goal, but he's taking a lot of heat for "not doing enough". Wonder how much his lowered minutes are just circumstance (i.e. wanting to give Couturier ice time against the Rangers' top line) and how much is a conscious decision of Berube.

* First time all series the Rangers' fourth line didn't take it to the Flyers. That's a nice change, I suppose?

* In the other matchup everybody's watching, Ryan McDonagh was on the ice with Giroux for about half of Giroux's ice time, though that was more likely mostly a product of McDonagh just being out there all the time.

* Luke Schenn and Andrew MacDonald led the Flyers in ice time at 5-on-5. Schenn, in particular, seemed like he was having a very strong game, and won his matchups in brief stretches against all four Rangers forward lines. Still not a ton of overall trends to how the defense is getting deployed, though.

* Overall silver lining: this is the first time all year that the Flyers ended a game against the Rangers with more shot attempts at evens. Moral victories don't count for much in the playoffs, and it especially rings hollow if/when the Rangers are blocking shots the way they were last night, but there was some good to take out of that game.

Full head-to-head shot chart here.

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