This week, we’ll be taking a look back at the Flyers’ season and a peek at what lies ahead. Today, a look at the most-recent wound, the first-round playoff loss the Rangers.
The Philadelphia Flyers scratched and clawed just to make this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. They did the same in their first-round series with the New York Rangers just to reach a seventh game.
In the end, it just wasn’t enough as they quietly bowed out with a 2-1 loss to the Rangers in that seventh game.
But what exactly went wrong against the Rangers? Where did things go south?
For the first time in decades, it wasn’t the goaltender’s fault. No, really. It wasn’t the goalie’s fault.
If Game 7 was the only game of the series you watched, never fear because outside of Game 6 when the Flyers crushed the Rangers in South Philly, it was pretty much a microcosm of how the entire series went.
The Flyers were very fortunate just to reach Game 7 with the way they were outplayed for the majority of the series.
The lack of Flyers’ offense has been documented but toss that aside because the Rangers still dictated play for the majority of the series. The Flyers were forced to play a kind of game they were ill-equipped for.
And that all started with the speed of the Rangers.
The Rangers used their speed to hem the Flyers in their own zone with an aggressive forecheck that forced the Flyers into ugly turnovers in the defensive zone. Those kinds of turnovers can be crippling because they can end up in your own net. Just ask Steve Mason and Ray Emery.
There was a reason why the Rangers had more shots on goal and the much more dangerous chances.
On the rare occasion the Flyers got the puck out cleanly, they made risky passes in the neutral zone that the Rangers were able easily pick off and take the other way,
The speed of the Rangers was also a boon to them in their defensive zone as they were able to move the puck out of the zone before the Flyers could establish a forecheck. Most of the Flyers’ chances in the series were one-and-done, which made life that much easier for Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
Though the Rangers’ pressure was intense, the Flyers’ defense wasn’t so great in the series. And that was before Nick Grossmann went down with torn ankle tendons in Game 4.
Braydon Coburn had possibly the worst seven-game stretch of his career. He had issues controlling the puck and couldn’t make a clean pass out of his teammates’ skates. Hal Gill knows all-too well about that.
Kimmo Timonen was the target of some fans’ vigor in the series but let’s be honest here. He shouldn’t have to be the team’s No.1 defenseman at this point in his career but those are the cards that are on the table.
And as the team’s top defensemen, he was exposed by the skill and quickness of the Rangers. He was out of gas and just couldn’t keep up with the likes of Derek Stepan and Marty St. Louis
If the series proved anything, it magnified the Flyers' need more puck-moving skill and speed on the blue line. That said, both Mark Streit and Luke Schenn played really well against the Rangers. They should be commended.
The power play at Madison Square Garden really hurt the Flyers, which was odd because the Flyers had the best road power play in the league during the regular season.
It wasn’t that they didn’t score on the power play there. They scored three goals at the Garden in the series.
The ones they didn’t score on were such brutal wasted efforts that the Rangers wound up grabbing all the momentum from the kills and used that momentum to keep the Flyers on their heels and eventually put the puck in the net.
The most glaring examples were in Games 5 and 7. Midway through each of those games, the Flyers had two miserable power-play efforts and the Rangers went on to score just a few moments later. With the way the Rangers dominated possession, it was basically game, set and match from those moments on.
Sure, the Flyers would score goals to make things interesting, but those efforts were too little, too late.
If anything, those miserable power plays proved the Flyers’ need to legitimate sniper to play alongside Claude Giroux and take the pressure off of him.
Only Giroux, Jake Voracek and rookie Jason Akeson were legitimate offensive threats in a series where the Flyers scored just 14 goals (excluding empty-netters) in the seven games.
But, hey, the bright side is that the goalie question seems to be finally answered. Mason was phenomenal and deserved a better fate.