Back again for Game 4, the Flyers got the early edge in shots and momentum, and they got themselves on the board first too! The lines were going fully through the blender, but we got a look of Michael Raffl on the top line with Sean Couturier and Jake Voracek, and it pretty immediately paid dividends, as Raffl sent in a great shot on Carey Price to open up the scoring.
The Flyers would also have probably their best power play chance of the series in the first, as well, as Jesperi Kotkaniemi tripped Kevin Hayes and the Flyers got a chance on the man-advantage. This chance came when Voracek made a pass attempt straight across the low slot to Couturier who had a wide open net, but Shea Weber got a piece of it, so Couturier couldn’t get a shot away. But it was... something?
The second period saw play regress from the looser, more chaotic style of the first back into a tighter checking style that we’ve gotten used to seeing in this series, and the momentum swung back in Montreal’s favor, as they started surging and putting up some close chances of their own. They would get an even better chance to get themselves on the board just past the midway point of the period, as Scott Laughton was called for tripping, and the Habs went to the power play. The good news is that the Flyers played this one aggressively and didn’t really give the Canadiens much space to work with, and the Flyers made it out of that one unscathed.
The Candadiens may have been pressuring in the second period, but the Flyers got the lucky bounce. On just their third shot of the period, Philippe Myers threw a puck on net from a tough angle, it snuck up on Price and he went to play it and deflected it into his own net. And truly, you hate to see it.
Montreal continued their surge in the third period, and it made for a couple of close calls for the Flyers—and a close call of another kind when Robert Hagg took a Weber shot to the helmet, but seemed to be okay.
Just past the midway point of the third period, the Flyers got another chance on the power play, and this one saw them continuing to look like they were picking up steam. They weren’t able to convert on anything, but they got really nice chances for both Joel Farabee, and were able to manage a nice but of sustained zone time. And that’s something!
The Flyers responded to that by immediately shooting themselves in the foot, as Myers was called for tripping right after their power play expired. The good news is that the Flyers were able to keep the Habs pretty well contained, allowing only one shot on the power play, and their lead remained intact. The Flyers would get another power play not long after that kill, and this one, you guessed it, saw them generate a couple of looks, but didn’t find any finish on those chances. So it goes.
The Habs made one last push with the goalie pulled, but the Flyers were able to shut them down pretty effectively. And Hart’s shutout held and the Flyers skated away with a 3-1 series lead.
1. Carter Hart
Who else could we make the first star of this game but Hart, right? He picked up his second shutout in as many games today, and really looked to be in top form today. He wasn’t tested too heavily in this one, but he remained focused and was sharp when they needed him to be, bailing the Flyers out the couple of times things broke down and had the potential to get ugly. Really, there’s not a whole lot else we can say about him—Hart had another really solid game, as he has all series, and it was nice to see him getting more support from the skaters in front to get this much deserved result.
2. Michael Raffl
We saw Raffl promoted to the top line in this one, and while the initial reaction seemed to be a bit of confusion, it was a fit that seemed to work out. Raffl picked up the first goal of the game, and the top line was able to get on the board for the second game in a row. The fit just seemed to be working in this one—and this really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. It’s an open question whether this is a look that the Flyers will want to continue to run with, but it was nice to see Raffl make that big jump up in the lineup and hit the ground running.
3. Philippe Myers
There were a number of other solid performances in this game, but Myers had himself, overall, a really good game. He picked up the second goal of the game, and yes, it wasn’t a huge play that led to the goal, but we can’t begrudge him his choice to get a puck on net and see what happens, because sometimes things like that happen! The scoring contribution was nice, but Myers just overall did have a solid game. The Canadiens didn’t get a lot of really dangerous chances, and that’s a credit to the whole team’s defensive efforts, and Myers was a huge piece of this.
Two big questions
1. New lines, what’s up?
The Flyers made some changes to the lineup for this afternoon’s game, with James van Riemsdyk and Nicolas Aube-Kubel coming out and Joel Farabee and Connor Bunnaman coming back in, as well as some shuffling of the lines, so we had some whole new looks for the Flyers today!
Flyers lines:— Brad Keffer (@brad_keffer) August 18, 2020
And, overall, the new lines were fine. There wasn’t one line that looked like hot garbage, but none of them really jumped out as looking particularly extremely dominant. Maybe we can’t get too fussy, the new looks were enough to get the job done, after all. Not too bad, and we’ll see if these lines hold heading into tomorrow’s game.
2. The power play... will you please do something?
Looks like the answer is still no, but like a softer no than we’ve been getting from them? We talked about the very good chance they got on their first power play of the night, and it’s kind of hard to overstate how exciting that was to see, considering how brutal the power play has looked this series. Their second attempt looked even better, and it’s starting to look like they may be trending in the right direction. There’s still almost certainly some tinkering that needs to happen if they’re going to really get this thing going, but it’s nice to see them have some life.