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Flyers look to put stranglehold on series vs. Montreal in Game 4

Trying to increase that series lead.

Philadelphia Flyers v Montreal Canadiens - Game Three Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After the Philadelphia Flyers’ abysmal performance against the Montreal Canadiens in Game 2, the Flyers suddenly have a chance to put a stranglehold on the series following a successful bounce-back effort in Game 3. With a win in Game 4, the Flyers could take a 3-1 series lead and sit just one win away from their first playoff series victory since 2012.

While the Flyers do once again hold the series lead, however, they were far from perfect Sunday night. Neither the Flyers or Habs managed to generate much offense in Game 3, as evidenced by the 1-0 score and the 43 combined shots on goal — for reference, the Dallas Stars alone logged 61 shots in their Game 4 tilt against the Calgary Flames on Sunday.

While the Flyers’ play at 5-on-5 was underwhelming, perhaps their biggest issue in Game 3 was their ineffective play on the man advantage. Despite earning six tries on the power play, the Flyers managed only three shots on net during those opportunities. They struggled to generate any sustained pressure in the offensive zone, and when they did manage to get a good cycle going, which was rare, they often settled for low-percentage chances from the perimeter.

That is when they weren’t gifting Montreal quality shorthanded scoring chances.

The Flyers’ struggles on the power play aren’t anything new, though. The power play has struggled since the team entered the Toronto bubble late last month. Inexplicably, the Flyers have gone 1-for-25 (!) on the power play since their first game of the round robin back on August 2, and out of the 24 teams that qualified for the postseason tournament, Philadelphia’s power play has easily been the worst of the bunch with a jarringly terrible success rate of 4 percent on the advantage.

Not great!

In order to extend the series lead in Game 4, the Flyers will need to get something going on the power play. Ivan Provorov one-timers from the point with zero traffic around the shooting lane won’t cut it.

Due to the struggling power play, the Flyers’ Game 3 win didn’t quite feel like an actual victory. But thanks to the outstanding play of now 22-year-old Carter Hart, the Flyers have a lot to celebrate going into Game 4. Hart, now the youngest goalie in franchise history to earn a postseason shutout, has been everything the Flyers had hoped he’d be in the playoffs. With a .949 save percentage and 1.51 goals against average, Hart, along with Montreal’s Carey Price, has been one of the most impressive netminders in the early going of the conference quarterfinals.

Of course, Hart cannot be counted on to win the series on his own. At some point, the Flyers’ top point producers will need to solve Price and start providing Hart with some goal support. Through six games this postseason, Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny have all failed to find the back of the net. The Flyers got by just fine in the round robin thanks largely to Hart’s stellar play and consistent secondary scoring from Scott Laughton, Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Joel Farabee, but they cannot be expected to carry the load.

One can imagine it’s only a matter of time before the Flyers’ top players start getting some better scoring luck. Perhaps Game 4 will be the day things finally start going their way.


Flyers’ (subject to change) lineup:

Forwards

Giroux - Couturier - Voracek

Laughton - Hayes - Konecny

JVR - Grant - Aube-Kubel

Raffl - Thompson - Pitlick

Defensemen

Provorov - Niskanen

Sanheim - Myers

Hagg - Braun

Goalies

Hart

(Elliott)


Ahead of tonight’s Game 4 our pals Laura and Scott of Locked On Canadiens joined us again to go over the first three games of this first round series between the Flyers and the Habs, and to see if any of our predictions have changed since we last chatted.