1. Montreal isn’t going to roll over
If the Flyers want to win this series, and I fully believe they do, they need to find a way to match the compete level of the Canadiens. They didn’t do that nearly enough in either of the first two games, especially not yesterday. We knew coming into this series this was going to be their gameplan, because it’s been their gameplan all season. Grind and outwork your opponent, play fast, win puck battles, be opportunistic, etc.
Simply put, the Montreal Canadiens outworked the Flyers and that’s why they’re in this series. They’re not going to roll over and die at the first sign of trouble. The good news is that we know this Flyers team is capable of doing exactly what the Canadiens did, because they’ve done it all season. They just need to do it.
2. The Gostisbehere/Braun pairing isn’t going to cut it
One change that seemingly has to be made is splitting up the Shayne Gostisbehere and Justin Braun pairing. It’s not getting the job done and it’s not just one of them that’s struggling. Gostisbehere struggled again failing to find the form from the final game of the round robin, and while you hope that doesn’t result in him being scratched for game three, it wouldn’t shock me.
We all know at his peak, Gostisbehere is a better option to have in the lineup than a guy like Robert Hagg, however it’s clear he still isn’t at his peak. The pairing posted Corsi-For percentages under 42 percent for the second straight game and frankly, that isn’t good enough. Not even close. But to be fair to these guys, it’s not like anyone else is really looking all that great at the moment either. Something has to — and probably will given what we’ve seen from Alain Vigneault this year — change for game three.
3. The first playoff adversity for Carter Hart
By no means is Hart to blame for any of what happened yesterday. He was left hung out to dry by his teammates and it unfortunately resulted in him getting yanked prior to the end of the second period. How he responds to this will be vital to the Flyers chances of going far, but as he and the team have done all year, they’ve bounced back after kicks to the gut like this.
4. Need more traffic in front of Price
It’s pretty obvious through just two games that Carey Price came to play this series. When Price comes to play, he’s arguably the toughest goalie to beat in the entire NHL, and if the Flyers are going to beat him, they need bodies blocking his view. This was an issue in Game 1 as well at times, but especially yesterday. Look at how they got their two goals on Wednesday night: a shot from the point that went off Jakub Voracek who was screening Price, and then a rebound goal from Joel Farabee. The theme: bodies in front of Price.
You’re not going to beat this guy with wristers from the faceoff dots; hell even the slot is probably not going to work, it’s Carey freaking Price. The Flyers have plenty of guys big enough and good enough at screening the goalie to do this, they just need to implement it.
5. Get back to what you do best
Something I’ve noticed in these first two games is for some reason the Flyers are trying more stretch passes to get out of their own zone. This is something they’ve gotten away from compared to the Hakstol Flyers, with breakouts centering around a close support system. So it’s a tad confusing why this is happening against a team like Montreal, who would be susceptible to short, quick passes on the breakout.
If the Flyers do get back to this, I think you see them dominate the game from start to finish. We saw in the third period on Wednesday, they really got back to the close support breakout method, and it was no coincidence they looked much better in the third. Montreal isn’t going to stop coming with their aggressive forecheck, so it’s time to get back to doing what this team does best on the breakout.