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Net presence and special teams yield scoring in Game 1

Dirty but good.

Montreal Canadiens v Philadelphia Flyers - Game One Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

It wasn’t pretty, but the Philadelphia Flyers will take that Game 1 win last night over the Montreal Canadiens. A win is a win in the playoffs, but the Orange and Black will need to find a way to control the Canadiens’ speed and force them into spending a little more time fighting through Philly’s forecheck working out of their own zone. With that said the Flyers are going to need to find ways to keep Carey Price from cleanly reading and reacting to pucks as well as grab some tallies away from 5-on-5 play, both of which they accomplished last night. Let’s take a look at how Philly lit the lamp last night as well as the one shot that beat Carter Hart.

Jakub Voracek opens the scoring

With Jonathan Drouin in the penalty box for slashing, Claude Giroux wins an offensive zone draw that Travis Konecny sweeps back to Ivan Provorov, who walks across the blue line for a bit and fakes a pass to Konecny near the right boards before sliding it over to Giroux at the bottom of the right circle.

Giroux slid it right back to Provorov for a one-timer that Sean Couturier got a stick on, but redirected into the right corner.

Konecny is the first one to the loose puck and wraps it to Giroux in the left corner with the help of a Voracek bump behind the net before Jeff Petry could break it up. Giroux gathers the puck and slides it back up top to Provorov.

The d-man looks for some sort of lane before handing it to Konecny above the right circle. The winger tries to get a shot through traffic, but Xavier Ouellet blocks the attempt with his skate which results in the puck going back to Provorov.

The 2015 first-round pick moves it over to Giroux another time and the captain surveys his options for a second before giving it back to Provorov for a one-time blast that goes in.

A closer look shows the puck redirects first off Paul Byron’s stick before it goes off Voracek’s calf for the first goal of the series.

Takeaways

  • One of the bigger questions coming into the series was if the Flyers’ power play could provide some help after they failed to score against the Canadiens’ penalty kill all season. Thanks to the double screen of Couturier and Voracek there was enough chaos in front of Price to prevent him from getting a clear look at the release of Provorov’s shot. After they tried it earlier in the shift with the result being a Couturier redirection into the right corner, the Flyers were able to set up another blast from Provorov in hopes of it making it through the double screen. Price is still trying to find the puck when he drops to get big to take away the bottom of the net. If Price had been able to see the shot coming his way he may have had enough time to squeeze his arm to his side to stop the goal from happening even after it was redirected. Since he couldn’t see it once he felt the puck it was too late to squeeze his arm in time. With how ineffective the man advantage was in 2019-20 against the Canadiens we should be seeing a lot more of this setup in hopes of a real greasy power play-goal or two this series.

Weber ties it up

The Canadiens are in the middle of a power play thanks to a Nicolas Aube-Kubel hold on Drouin when Nick Suzuki dumps the puck into the left corner of the Flyers’ zone. Matt Niskanen starts going into the corner for the puck knowing Drouin is chasing him. Niskanen looks over his left shoulder when Drouin cuts to Niskanen’s right which helps the forward tie up the d-man’s stick and get the puck out of the corner before Provorov or Kevin Hayes could pick it up.

Weber grabs the loose disc before Scott Laughton can race over from the other side of the ice for a clear and backhands it to Drouin in the corner, who wraps it to Suzuki on the right wall.

Suzuki gives it to Petry at the right point before a passing sequence of Petry-to-Suzuki-to-Drouin-to-Suzuki-to-Petry results in the d-man walking across the point for a second before finding Weber for a one-timer just above the left faceoff dot.

Hart is able to stop the original shot, but he gives up a rebound at the skates of Drouin. Provorov is physical enough with Drouin to prevent him from getting his stick on the puck and Laughton is able to stick lift Brendan Gallagher to keep him from scoring as well, but the puck glides out to an open Weber to slam home into the yawning net.

Takeaways

  • The only thing I don’t really like about Niskanen’s game is I think his average speed and acceleration can cost him at times. After Phillip Danault hassled him into a turnover following a loose puck in the first period that nearly resulted in an Arturri Lehkonen goal, Niskanen loses ground in a puck race into the corner with Drouin before the Canadien is ultimately able to regain possession for Montreal.

The Canadiens are a fast team and that definitely caused problems last night, as Niskanen wasn’t the only Flyer who seemed to be making bad decisions with the puck and in spacing. Hopefully last night was more of a startling realization that the Canadiens are a quick club rather than how much the Habs are going to skate around the Flyers this series (probably the former).

  • It sucks that this is how Hart lost his shutout. He gave up a rebound on the original Weber shot, but ah...it’s Weber. On top of that he recovered pretty well and looked to have any rebound chances covered until Provorov (?) accidentally knocked the puck back to an open Weber for the dunk.

The rebound led to Provorov falling down and potentially knocking the puck to Weber as well as Laughton and Niskanen focusing on Gallagher near the crease to force their momentum away from the loose disc. This goal may have been helped along by some Flyers’ imperfections but this is how the Canadiens want to create this series, especially on the power play: Weber blasting the puck from the back end, Gallagher causing problems in front, and hope the hunk of rubber somehow crosses the goal line.

Joel Farabee restores the lead immediately

The play starts with a faceoff at center ice following Weber’s goal. Danault wins the faceoff for the Canadiens, but the puck ends up on Phil Myers’ stick high in the Flyers’ defensive zone following a battle for possession in the neutral zone. Myers flings it up to Giroux just inside the red line, who bumps one past Brett Kulak and into the Canadiens’ zone.

As the puck rolls behind Montreal’s net Price comes out to play it. After he realizes Couturier is barreling down to take away time and space from Kulak, Price backhands the puck to Ben Chiarot in the left corner. Farabee makes a beeline (get it) to Chiarot which forces the blue liner to fire a pass up the boards to Byron perhaps a little more reckless than he’d have liked. Byron isn’t able to cut off the puck at the left point before it reaches Travis Sanheim, who immediately fires one on Price.

Farabee managed to circle around from his pressure on Chiarot to provide a screen and redirection on Price before he collected his own rebound and pounded home his second career playoff goal.

Takeaways

  • The decision to put Farabee on the top line paid off. After he was able to force Chiarot into a questionable pass Farabee snuck to the front of the net, screened Price, forced him to allow a rebound with a redirection in front, and then finished the play he essentially created by himself. Sanheim deserves some recognition for just firing the puck on net after Byron’s misplay caught the Canadiens off guard, but forcing Montreal into errors against Philly’s forecheck and forcing Price into unwinnable situations he can’t control with screens or rebounds are the two points of focus for Philly’s offense this series. The rookie accomplished both on this play.
  • This goal came 16 seconds after Weber tied the game on the power play. To give Weber a break after the man advantage Claude Julien threw his usual defensive partner, Chiarot, over the boards for a shift with Kulak (usually paired with Jeff Petry). Both d-men are left-handed and usually play on the left side of their pairs. This helped lead to Chiarot’s rushed awkward pass to Byron. Whether it’s Chiarot or Byron’s fault aside the fact that the puck got past Byron caught both d-men off guard as Kulak was too high in the slot to box out Farabee and Chiarot had already taken a few strides up the boards when Sanheim controlled the rubber. Throwing an unusual defensive pair over the boards for a single shift to let one of your mainstays on the back end breath doesn’t usually backfire in game-deciding fashion, but thankfully it did this time.
  • This goal should help Flyers’ fans feel a little better about this series. The style of play last night favored the Canadiens’ strengths and it shouldn’t be a theme the whole series, but even with Montreal controlling that aspect one of the few times Philadelphia did get to use their forecheck it resulted in one of the game’s three goals. AV has a feeling out phase as we have seen with how the team progressed throughout the season and how the Flyers always start their games slow but seemingly finish at full throttle in the third period. If the team comes out for Game 2 and it looks like nothing has changed in approach then it might be time to worry.