PHILADELPHIA -- Before this series with the New York Rangers, we hoped that goaltending wouldn't be the difference. You know, because Henrik Lundqvist is one of the best in the world, and Steve Mason and Ray Emery are ... well, not Lundqvist. So if this series was to come down to the goalies, it probably wouldn't be too good for the Flyers.
Well through four games, this series is coming down to the goaltending. The two Flyers wins, at least. Emery was phenomenal in the Game 2 win last Sunday, and Mason gave his team a much-needed boost tonight in a 2-1 win. It evened the series at two games apiece, and we're headed back to New York on Sunday for Game 5 with a chance to pull ahead in the series.
In a word, Mase was brilliant in Game 4, his first playoff start as a Flyer. When the Flyers went up 2-1, it was the first lead he'd ever played with in a playoff game, and that includes Game 3 on Tuesday and his four games previously with Columbus.
The Rangers put a ton of pressure on Mason --- 38 shots on goal in total --- and while the defense did a pretty good job of limiting the quality of the chances that got to Mason, the Flyers goaltender had to come up huge on .... well, I lost count, but way way way too many occasions. The final few minutes in particular were a chaotic mess, and Mason was a damn workhorse. He earned this win for the Flyers. Bow to him. Buy him a soft pretzel at Wawa tomorrow.
- About the goals: Matt Read tied the score in the first with a great shot off a feed from Jason Akeson, and Jake Voracek gave the Flyers a huge 2-1 lead they'd never relinquish in the second with a tip off a Brayden Schenn shot on the power play.
- Yeah, it's still a problem that the Flyers are taking a billion penalties. But the penalty killers are bailing them out. Sean Couturier, Matt Read and Adam Hall, in particular. We said that special teams would be something the Flyers would live and die by in this series, since quite objectively the Rangers are a better even-strength team. Tonight, they got a power play goal and the penalty kill was perfect.
- Nicklas Grossmann went down with an injury in the second period and didn't return to the game, and it's a not-good loss if he's out Sunday (and beyond). If he is, who replaces him? Erik Gustafsson? Somebody else?
- The third line is pure sex, as it has been all series. Akeson is probably the Flyers' best player right now, but that whole unit of him, Matt Read and Sean Couturier is just playing incredible hockey at the moment.
- The Rangers continue to shut down the Flyers top line at even strength.
- Andrew MacDonald had a bad game. He was at fault on the opening Rangers goal when he turned the puck over at the blue line just as a Flyers power play ended, and later in the game he was beaten for a play that resulted in a penalty. He looked slow and not very good. Please change that in Game 5, AMac.
- The officiating in this series continues to be a complete joke. It's going both ways at times, but it's really bad and frankly pretty embarrassing for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The only thing you ask for out of an officiating crew is consistency, yet in this series it seems like they're calling it tight one minute and letting everything go the next. It's bush league.
- Related: Here's a Flyers fan jiggling a hot dog at a referee in disgust.
- In the third period, the crowd chanted "Fuck Carcillo". It was magnificent and I don't really care what the national media thinks about this sentence.
THE SERIES IS EVEN, Y'ALL. GO FLYERS. NEW YORK ON SUNDAY.