Faced with a game down in a close series, it’s pretty clear what the Flyers must do – double down.
As Travis noted yesterday, lots of people on Twitter were clucking nonsense about the Flyers’ performance in game 3. Sure, the end result was a little underdone, but not because the Flyers didn’t turn up the heat. They got pucks on net and generated a ton of shot attempts, but alas, sometimes even when you follow the recipe, you end up with rubbery chicken.
However, with enough practice with that recipe, they’ll become master chefs. And that’s exactly why they have to double down, particularly when it comes to their secondary scoring.
Sure, Claude Giroux’s play has been a little dry lately, and could certainly spice up his game, but the side dishes of this meal have been the real disappointment. On BSH Radio last night, Kurt pointed out that the only even strength goals have come from the entrée line of Voracek, Giroux, and Hartnell. If the Flyers want to take advantage of the depth of their menu, they need to empty their bucket of tricks and get help to round out the meal.
Quite frankly, Brayden Schenn needs to be the mashed potatoes. Vinny Lecavalier needs to step up his game and butter those potatoes, and Wayne Simmonds needs to finish them off with a little gravy. Playing hard on the wings and wedging the biscuit out to create good chances has been lacking for that second line, and until that changes, we’re all going to leave games hungry for more.
The other area in which components of the Flyers original recipe is missing is the limited minutes the top defensive pairing has gotten. Both Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn are used to staying in the fryer until they’re extra crispy – typically logging over 20 minutes a night in the regular season -- but they’ve seen way less time on ice in the playoffs. That might be because they haven’t delivered the goods, but maybe extra time is just what they need to lock in the flavor of success we saw earlier this season.
The other components of the meal have been good enough. The third and fourth lines have been the salt and pepper of the team – necessary, but not particularly standing out as a flashy garnish. Maybe the bottom six forwards, bottom four defenseman, and Steve Mason are the 11 herbs and spices this team needs to get really juicy, but I wouldn’t count on it.
In short, the spices and entrée are there. The Flyers just need to double down and order more sides. Once that happens, they’ll be able to deliver a winning combination that leaves their guests fully sated.