Happy Friday, everybody! How are we all doing? It’s almost the weekend, and we’ve got some more Flyers hockey tonight! You may not be ready for it, but you’re going to get it anyway. It’s gonna be better, you guys. Really. It literally cannot get any worse.
This is about the time in the preview where we’d take a moment to detail the state of these two teams, talk about their last meeting, and where we’d ask ”what’s been up with the Penguins since we last saw them?” But we all know the answer to all this. It’s been two days, the Flyers still lost 7-0 in game one, and nothing’s really chanced since then. That’s the recap. It wasn’t a pretty game, it’s hard to say there was much of anything redeemable about it. The Flyers will have a lot of things that they’ll need to clean up and do better, to be sure, but, as is our model, we’ll be looking at just three of them.
1. Dump and chase
Among the host of things that need changing and improving from Wednesday’s performance, we have one element that needs scrapping, altogether. Game one saw the Flyers, resorting overwhelmingly to chip and chase zone entries—the were only able to control 41.7 percent of their entries—and things went just about as well as you’d expect. It’s not a model that’s worked particularly well for them in the past, in general, but particularly so against the Penguins, who proved to be much faster at getting to the loose pucks, and largely prevented the Flyers from being able to get set up in the offensive zone. If nothing else, Game 1 was a learning experience, and the Flyers learned that, if they don’t clean up and control their entries, they’re absolutely going to find themselves exploited again.
2. Quality chances
And this works as a nice enough segue to our next point. What should the Flyers do when they finally get themselves into the zone? The answer is almost certainly not “take just a whole bunch of point shots.”
Taking a look at our old pal the heatmap, it’s not much of a mystery as to why the Flyers had trouble generating offense in that first game. Indeed, they made things pretty easy for Murray, by keeping the bulk of their shots to the perimeter, and not being able to do much in the way of setting screens. So not only were the Flyers outshot (33-24 by the end of the night), but they weren’t even giving themselves the best chance to capitalize on the chances they were able to generate.
But it’s not all bad news. We saw Lindblom and Patrick avoiding the seeming reticence to set up in the crease and try to create higher quality chances, and we’ve seen the Flyers historically be effective from this area. We just need to hope that this spreads throughout the lineup, beyond the second line, tonight.
Okay, so maybe we overstated a little bit before. If we were to really go looking for something to praise, we could say that the Flyers’ penalty kill was pretty solid on Wednesday. Maybe we’re all not ready for real positivity just yet, but they did take on one of the top power plays in the league and kept them off the board. And that’s not nothing.
But, the other side to that is that they shouldn’t have had to kill that many penalties in the first place. You get why it happened—they were chasing so they were taking the penalties that are incurred when you get caught in that trap. But you can’t expect for the Penguins’ power play to continue to fail to capitalize on their attempts, not for a whole series. And, as we saw on Wednesday, they don’t need much extra space to do damage. So let’s just not give them any extra chances for free, yeah?
Puck drops at 7:00 tonight, and you can check out the Flyers’ projected lineup (remember when we said nothing had changed?) below. Let’s go, the Flyers!
Giroux - Couturier - Raffl
Lindblom - Patrick - Voracek
Konecny - Filppula - Simmonds
Laughton - Lehtera - Read
Provorov - Gostisbehere
MacDonald - Sanheim
Manning - Gudas