Although there was only one goal in the Philadelphia Flyers’ win in Game 3 over the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday there were several shots that nearly went in for both teams. Along with Jakub Voracek’s goal we’re going to take a look at the six shots that hit iron a few days ago to see just how close this one-goal affair ended up being.
Voracek starts and finishes the scoring
The play starts with an offensive zone draw to Carey Price’s right. Sean Couturier is able to win the puck back to Robert Hagg. As the puck is drifting back to Hagg Claude Giroux spins his way into the right corner for a pass from the Swedish blue liner while Voracek darts to the net.
Thanks to Couturier’s ability to tie up Phillip Danault and a miscommunication between Shea Weber and Ben Chiarot, Voracek is able to position himself directly in front of Price when Giroux let’s go of a wrist shot from the boards. With Chiarot rushing back to the net Giroux’s shot goes off Voracek’s stick before it hits his thigh to go past Price to serve as the only difference on the scoreboard.
- We’ve seen the Canadiens use picks to gain an advantage in the series. We saw Tomas Tatar help Travis Sanheim move out of the way for Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s second goal in Friday’s loss before both Jeff Petry and Joel Armia were nabbed for interference setting picks in Sunday’s win. Alain Vigneault and company seemingly wanted in on some of that action so they put together this play. After Couturier wins the puck back Giroux steps in Paul Byron’s way to slow down his pursuit of Hagg at the point before he swoops around to the outside of the circle, Voracek’s original position on the play. Voracek was supposed to be covered by Weber during the duration of the faceoff sequence, but the forward’s move to the inside left Weber out of position when Giroux switched to allow the shot on net. Chiarot, who was the d-man closest to the net when the puck was dropped, saw Giroux about to receive the pass and made a move to get out to the boards before he realized Voracek had planted himself in front. The half-a-second delay wasn’t an egregious mistake, but it served as enough time to let Voracek body one to the back of the net.
- The Flyers have three goals in the series and all have come off low-danger shots with the help of traffic and redirections in front. A little bit of an oversimplification, but it has been what it takes to put the biscuit past Price. They couldn’t get enough traffic in front of Price in Game 2 (among other issues) and haven’t been able to plop enough people in front of him to register another power-play tally, but the netminder seems to be playing well enough that you can’t hope for anything cheap.
The five times the Canadiens hit iron on Sunday
Although there was only one goal on Sunday it’s fair to say the score could have been a little different if a few pucks hit the iron an alternative way. Six shots hit the crossbar or post over the weekend with Montreal registering five of them. It’d be easy to chalk that up as a stat to highlight how the Orange and Black got lucky two days ago, but as we take a look back at the chances were these attempts unlucky in that they didn’t light the lamp or lucky to be considered almost a goal?
Here’s the first time Montreal hit iron on Sunday and it’s honestly the Canadiens’ lone should-have-been-a-goal sequence out of the shots that hit iron. Not only did Kotkaniemi hit the inside of the post but his shot caused Hart to lose track of the puck while Max Domi was in the general vicinity for the rebound. Matt Niskanen was right there for Domi’s rebound bid if he had corralled the disc, but it’s safe to say the Canadiens may have deserved a goal there.
Later in that sequence Jeff Petry cranks one from the top of the circles that hits the woodwork and goes out of play. Looking at it from this angle we can see that Hart is unscreened and positioned pretty well for Petry’s rocket. It looks as though the shot barely missed Hart’s shoulder so is it a safe assumption that if he placed his shot a little better it’d go in or if the shot is a little lower does it catch Hart’s shoulder and over the net? Whatever the answer to that question is it was an unscreened point shot that missed the net.
This shot off the iron is maybe the best illustration of why all shots off the post aren’t equally as dangerous. Ivan Provorov has taken away everything in the middle for Brendan Gallagher so he tries to sneak a cheap one over Hart’s shoulder after he’s dropped before Laughton picks up the rebound and fires it back to the point. It’s a good idea by Gallagher, who got rewarded for firing an unsuspecting wrister along the goal line in Game 2 on Tatar’s first goal. The Flyers didn’t let Gallagher walk into the slot or into a prime shooting position, Hart had the post covered, and Laughton was able to clear it away from danger immediately afterwards. This attempt wasn’t going to create anything.
Later in the second period Nick Suzuki took advantage of a Voracek turnover in the Canadiens’ zone during a Flyers’ power play to start a 2-on-1 with Byron against Provorov. This was Montreal’s other post-clanker that one could argue deserved to go in. Suzuki showed enough patience to get Provorov to drop and he placed it perfectly between Hart’s glove and leg pad.
After he banged one off the post in the first Kotkaniemi hit the iron again in the final stanza. On a rush in the third period’s opening minute Kotkaniemi manages to put one off the outside of the right post while Provorov is in his business.
When looking at these shots that hit the post they don’t feel like situations where the Flyers were lucky to survive a Montreal onslaught but that the Canadiens provided some pretty nice tries in scenarios where Philly took away all other options. Kotkaniemi’s original post could have led to a rebound attempt for Domi and Suzuki couldn’t have done more to score on his bid than just hit the inside of the post, but none of these were equivalent to Nate Thompson missing a wide-open net or Price throwing his stick at a shot for the save of the year. They weren’t absolute goals where the shooter was robbed but instead players not quite perfecting their shots to work with what Philly gave them.
Take for instance the Flyers’ lone shot off the iron on Sunday. We all saw how poorly the power play looked two days ago as they struggled to get set up in the offensive zone and couldn’t thread any passes to the net, but Travis Konecny still managed to hit the crossbar off a pretty routine shot. The attempt wasn’t an indication of how much the Flyers were clicking on the power play or a reminder that Konecny missed a surefire marker. It just shows how a possible near-goal isn’t always a team beating an opponent’s system for a play.