Hockey is a really dumb game sometimes.
On Sunday in Game 2, the Flyers were thoroughly outplayed by the New York Rangers for three periods, yet they were able to come ahead with the 4-2 victory. On Tuesday in Game 3, the Flyers did just the opposite: completely controlled the Rangers at even strength, yet lost 4-1.
This makes people say crazy things and have crazy opinions. Stuff like this, for example:
Still pissed with that #Flyers performance last nite. This team doesn't deserve to be in the playoffs with the effort they give.— Jonathan Barbagli (@BarJ31) April 23, 2014
Even I would have put more heart into tonights game than the Flyers did.. This was embarrassing— Riley (@r_glennon) April 23, 2014
If there's one thing the Flyers can't be criticized for in Game 3, it's their effort, or their heart, or their energy, or whatever. The Flyers didn't win Game 3, but they were by and large the better team.
Consider: The Flyers put 80 pucks towards the Rangers net last night. EIGHTY. That's more than their total in all but one game in the 2013-14 season. And typically, when they put a ton of shots on net, they win hockey games. They put 70+ shots towards the net 16 different times this regular season and earned at least a point in 13 of those games.
It is quite rare that a team puts this many shots towards the net and loses.
We know why the Flyers lost last night: a few weak breakdowns early in the game by Ray Emery and the defense, the inability to cash in on the power play, and the Rangers ability to clog the middle of the ice and get bodies in front of those Flyers shot attempts.
None of these things have to do with effort, and they're certainly fixable. Steve Mason will return to the net, and in practice on these two off days, the Flyers are no doubt focusing on puck movement in the offensive zone (especially on the power play) and trying to open up that Rangers defense a bit more.
Really, it pretty much comes down to this:
praying phi plays the same on fri as they did last night, get one pp goal to go in & have mason hold his own. twitter would be hilarious.— Collin Mehalick (@collinmehalick) April 23, 2014
Complain about the Flyers effort in Games 1 and 2 if you want. The Rangers outplayed them there and the Flyers were lucky to earn a split. They were not as lucky in Game 3, but if they make some relatively minor adjustments, get a better performance from their goaltender, and otherwise play as they did on Tuesday, they'll be heading back to New York in a 2-2 series.