It’s do or die for the Flyers. Well, almost.
Trailing the Rangers 2-1 in the best of seven series, the Flyers have an opportunity to square things up 2-2 on their home ice Friday night at 7 p.m.
But if they can’t convert Friday’s matchup into a win, if they aren’t able to use the howling and rowdy crowd as motivation to succeed, if they can’t harness the power of seven 20-goal scorers and a punishing special teams attack from the regular season, they will be down 3-1 heading to New York for two of the final three games.
And coming back from down 3-1, while not impossible, is one of the most difficult things in professional sports.
A loss is never a total loss if a team can learn from it and turn its shortcomings into positives. So here is what the Flyers must turn around from Game 3 in order to win at home Friday night.
Get Giroux going
When Claude Grioux is on the ice for the Flyers, he can create magic. It’s like he has eyes behind his head sometimes, setting up teammates and anchoring a potent power play attack.
He led all Flyers in scoring with 86 points in the regular season. And he was third in the entire NHL in points. But so far, he has just two shots on goal in three games this playoff series.
“He had a couple of good looks again today,” Jakub Voracek said after Tuesday night’s loss, commenting on Giroux’s lack of offense so far. “He didn’t score, but we scored one goal in two games. There are not many games you’re going to win when you score one goal in a game. We’ve got to make sure our line gets some more looks on the net, especially on the power play, I think that’s the biggest key that we’ve got to make sure that we dig in and get some goals on Friday.”
Fix the power play
The Flyers have a pretty glaring discrepancy when it comes to their home and away power play splits. At home, they ranked 25th in the NHL, scoring on just over 15% of their man advantages. Away from the Wells Fargo Center, they were No. 1 in the NHL at 25.2 percent.
In five tries Tuesday, the Flyers came up with nothing and the Rangers blocked shot after shot.
It’s time to hit the drawing board.
“I think it’s too predictable with what we’re doing with Giroux and [Kimmo] Timonen,” Flyers coach Craig Berube said. “We have to move it around more and get it in Voracek’s hands more. There are different things that we can to do and we will make some adjustments.”
Get around the shot blockers
The Flyers were turned away by 28 Rangers shot blocks, the second most the Flyers have seen this entire season and postseason.
A shot can’t go in the net if it hits a body first. And the Flyers can’t have a repeat of this in Game 4.
“They’ve played like that forever,” Voracek said, “so we know that we’re going to have to work for a lot of shots to get through their defensemen and on to [Henrik] Lundqvist. Sometimes it’s very hard to get it through. That’s why we have so many blocked shots, because they get in the lane pretty well. That’s something we’ve got to work on, and hopefully when we get those chances on Friday we can bury them.”
Keep it clean
It’s easier said than done, for the Flyers to commit less penalties against rivals the Rangers. But it has cost the Flyers dearly, taking stupid penalties.
Of the 18 position players for the Flyers who aren’t goaltenders, 13 of them have spent time in the box this series, in three games.
The Flyers have had 42 penalty minutes this series to the Rangers’ 28 minutes. The Flyers have to do a better job not only to create their own opportunities, but to limit them for their opponent.