If there was one positive to take from the Flyers’ 4-0 Game 1 loss to the New York Islanders to apply toward Wednesday’s Game 2 (3 p.m. ET, NBC Sports), it was their play in the second period.
After being thoroughly dominated in the first by the sixth-seeded Islanders — including the yielding of the game’s opening goal in which Claude Giroux described it as “the worst period we had since we’ve been in the bubble” — Philadelphia came out flying in the second to dictate play for a majority of the frame.
They outshot the Islanders 15-7 over those 20 minutes, put together some high-danger chances, but couldn’t find a way to beat Semyon Varlamov and more so, a resolute Islanders’ defense.
“In the second period, we were the better team, we had the looks, we had the scoring chances, we just couldn’t find the goal to tie up the game,” Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said. “This group has always found a way to respond and we’ll definitely respond.”
But another poor offensive showing, regardless of pressure, continues to push the narrative that the Flyers’ offense is broken — especially their top line as the trio of Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Jakub Voracek continue to stall when it matters most.
“I expect more obviously from Coots and his line,” Vigneault said. “We’ll have an opportunity to bounce back and answer back Wednesday… There are a few players in my estimation that could play a lot better on the puck, we’ll address it.”
“The top players have to play better,” Giroux added. “I’m obviously one of them and we have to get going.”
It was the Flyers’ second line that put together most of its Grade-A chances — particularly Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny — but golden opportunities were stymied by the likes of Varlamov and defenseman Andy Greene, who made a stretching block with his back skate to block Konecny of an open goal.
“We have to score to win games,” Hayes said. “You can have as many good looks as you want and pat yourself on the back, but if you don’t score, it’s pointless”
Konecny showed his frustration often, putting his head in his hands or looking up toward the ceiling in exasperation. For Vigneault, that won’t assist the Flyers’ cause at all.
“Frustration is not going to help,” he said. “What we have to do now is focus on the process, focus on the task, and put your best effort on the ice.”