Despite a blowout loss and some sputtering offense, the Philadelphia Flyers could take a 3-1 series lead in the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Montreal Canadiens with a victory in Game 4 on Tuesday afternoon (3 p.m. ET).
The Flyers took the series lead with a 1-0, tightly-contested triumph on Sunday night — which was a suitable response from a 5-0 blowout loss in Game 2.
“They’re exactly what I thought they were going into this series,” Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said. “They’re a quick team. If you don’t manage the puck well they come at you real word. They work extremely hard. They’re very competitive.”
“Everything we’ve expected as far as this playoff series is exactly what we’re getting.”
Philadelphia has the series lead despite scoring just three goals in two games as they’ve struggled to break down a strong Canadiens defense anchored by star goaltender Carey Price.
“Offensively, it’s been real challenging… It’s playoff hockey, there’s not a lot of room, it’s very competitive, it’s very physical,” Vigneault said.
Amongst those challenges is getting the first line of Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Jakub Voracek going, as they’ve combined to post just four points over the first three games of the series.
“Have they gotten the same looks as they did prior to the opening of the playoffs? Maybe not. But I do know they’re working extremely hard,” Vigneault said. “They have to find a way to contribute.”
Even more concerning though is the Flyers’ lack of success on the man advantage. They’ve scored just once on 25 power-play chances against the Canadiens. That 4% conversion rate is the lowest amongst the final 16 remaining teams, and something that the team has tried to address despite limited practice time on-ice.
“There’s no doubt that our power play, we’re going to need a couple of adjustments there. If you look at [Game 3], we were able to force the Montreal team to take six penalties,” Vigneault said. “We were working hard and spent time in their zone to put them in that position. I do believe in — maybe it’s my positive nature — with the personnel that we have and the way we’ve been able to make it click in that last 20-game stretch, I tend to believe in these players and that we’ll find a way to make it click.”
“I believe in these players. Our execution right now is a little off, we need to make a couple minor adjustments. We’ve been talking this morning with a couple of the players and we’ll come up with a plan and I believe we’ll be better tomorrow.”
But he isn’t expecting the Flyers to magically slick on all cylinders to dominate the Canadiens out of contention.
“Playoff hockey is so competitive. There’s momentum from period to period, shift to shift, when you’ve made the playoffs and you’re one of the 16 teams, you’re a very good team,” Vigneault said. “For any team to be clicking on all cylinders during the game, it’s not going to happen.”