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Six stats from the Flyers’ 2-0 Game 4 win over Canadiens

Some observations for your morning...

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

It’s nearly elimination time, folks! The Flyers took the momentum from their Game 3 win on Sunday and pretty well ran with it, building on a pretty solid effort and showing even more flash in this one. Michael Raffl and Philippe Myers picked up goals, and Carter Hart had a really strong showing, and with that they picked up their second consecutive shutout wins. It wasn’t a perfect effort, but it was one that did give us a good amount to like, and was, of course, enough secure the win and push the Flyers to a 3-1 series lead and within one game of advancing to the second round. Not too bad, gang.

All stats via Natural Stat Trick unless otherwise noted.

51.85—first period Controlled Entry%

We talked after Game 2 about the Flyers’ struggles in generating offense and how much of this was tied to their zone entry strategy early in the game. Playing a lot of dump and chase wasn’t kind to them, and it seems that the Flyers may have learned a lesson from that.

Per our pal Charlie, the totaled a 51.85 Controlled Entry% in the first period, as they were much more successful in moving the puck up-ice in transition and working to generate chances on the rush. We saw this translate to their shot impacts in this period, as they put up 19 shot attempts and held the Canadiens to 13 at 5-on-5 (and indeed, this was the only period that they won in the raw shot attempt differential). We didn’t see this type of dominance hold, as we moved back into a tighter forechecking type of style in the final two periods, but the Flyers played a solid period, and the goal it earned them would be enough to win the game. It was a step in the right direction.

8—high danger chances for the Canadiens

As we just alluded to, the Canadiens did pick up some steam as the game went on, and they were able to generate a good amount of offense. They were throwing a lot at the net—51 5-on-5 shot attempts in total—but the Flyers did pretty well to keep them to the outside in this one. Eight high danger chances on its own doesn’t seem like a stellar total to have allowed—ideally, yes, we would have liked that to be lower—but considering the zone time the Canadiens were getting later in the game, and the number of shot attempts they generated, this could have gotten out of hand if the Flyers weren’t playing sound defensively. Eight high danger chances against is a margin, in that case, that we’re comfortable enough with. They made things just a little bit easier on Carter Hart, and that’s an important thing.

1—high danger chance for the Flyers

While there was a lot to like about this game, in some ways it did feel like it was two steps forward and one step back. What we really like about their Game 3 effort was how well they were able to get to the front of the net to really test Carey Price, but we didn’t really see that same effort in this one. The Flyers didn’t have a whole lot going offensively in this one—just 18 shots at 5-on-5—but they too were held pretty well to the outside on their chances. It didn’t kill them in this one, as two of those chances from the outside were that stellar shot by Raffl and a weird shot by Myers that Price deflected into his own goal, but we know that this isn’t a model that’s going to continue to pay dividends. Price isn’t going to make things easy on the Flyers the rest of the way here, not after that showing, and the Flyers are going to have to get back to that Game 3 form if they want to wrap up this series neatly.

29—saves for Carter Hart

Sky is blue, water is wet, Carter Hart had another really solid game. He had a bit more difficult of a workload, but as was the case in Game 3, he really wasn’t tested too severely in this one, though he did handle all of those high danger chances that we talked about earlier with ease. But, all the same, he was able to stay focused and come up big for the Flyers when they needed him to. There were a couple of surges for the Canadiens and a couple of defensive breakdowns leading to some good chances when the Habs really could have gotten themselves back into this game, but Hart had the answer every time. He picked up his second shutout in two games with this one, and it’s just really hard to overstate how solid he’s been for the Flyers this series. Really nothing to complain about here.

3—scoring chances on the power play

In some ways, being excited about the above stat is a true testament of how beaten down we’ve all been by the power play’s ineptitude in the return to play. But the fact remains that we did see some positive signs, a bit of life, from the power play yesterday, and that was exciting. In their three attempts, they totaled nine shot attempts, four shots, and three scoring chances (all of which were high danger chances). It’s the most jump, the most zone time with them looking genuinely threatening that we’ve gotten all season, and that’s something, even if they couldn’t close on any of their chances.

We still saw them struggling on some of their breakouts, and it seems there’s still some tinkering to be done on the units and strategy, but this is still the most we’ve seen from them since they entered the bubble. It may have only been a small step forward, but hopefully it means they’re beginning to trend in the right direction.

31.31—xGF% for the fourth line

We don’t really want to keep beating a dead horse around here, and we know we talked about it after Sunday’s game, but the fourth line is continuing to really struggle. The lines were juggled a bit, so in this one we got a trio of Tyler Pitlick, Nate Thompson, and Connor Bunnaman, and the results weren’t stellar. They did manage a CF% of 54.75 percent, but the concerning piece is that they also put up a 36.97 SF% and 31.31 xGF%, which is to say that while they were generating more shot attempts during their time on the ice, the ones they were allowing were getting through to Hart, and they were dangerous chances. They were bleeding a lot in terms of high quality shots, and that’s something that’s certainly concerning.

Is your fourth line getting buried the end of the world? Probably not. But in the context of this series, when offense is stingy and if you’re not generating it, you had better not be bleeding unnecessary chances, it matters. The Flyers need offense and they keep icing a fourth line that’s working out to be something of an offensive black hole. And maybe that doesn’t kill them here, but if they advance and start facing deeper teams, this is going to be something that can hurt them.

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