NEW YORK -- Ten observations from the Flyers’ 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers in their first-round series (see Instant Replay).
1. So much for that strong start they were seeking (see story). The Flyers fell flat at the opening of this one, going without a shot until just over seven minutes in. Their first power play of the game was even worse -- they could barely get the puck into the Rangers’ zone, let alone get organized enough to get goalie Henrik Lundqvist moving.
2. Speaking of the Flyers’ power play, it was brutal Sunday afternoon, especially early. Carl Hagelin took two early calls the Flyers ought to have capitalized on, but instead, they couldn’t get their act together. They turned the puck over, they flubbed passes, and it continued all game. The Flyers’ power play is typically sharp on the road. Though they lucked out on a second-period goal in the stanza’s closing seconds, that was not the case in Game 5.
3. What was with all the passing? Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds all passed the puck too much Sunday, instead of taking shots on Lundqvist. One has to wonder whether they were looking to make the extra pass to avoid getting their shots blocked.
4. When the Flyers are at their best, they aren’t just moving their feet and getting shots on net … they’re physical. There was a lack of physicality at the start of this one, though, as the Flyers were outhit 15-6 in the opening period. That was a big reason they trailed 1-0 after one and 3-1 after two and didn’t feel like they controlled the pace, even though they won the majority of the faceoffs and led in shots, too.
5. The refereeing in this series (and from what I’ve seen, the playoffs as a whole) has left a lot to be desired. That was true of the second-period holding penalty on Andrew MacDonald that likely shouldn’t have been a penalty at all, as well as the quick whistle that resulted in a Rangers goal being waved off.
6. Voracek, as he has been all series, was the Flyers’ best forward in Game 5. Voracek has hit the ice with energy and worked hard each shift he took; he was noticeable. It’s seemed Voracek has made it a point to be a leader both on the ice and on the bench through all five games.
7. But by contrast, Voracek’s linemate Scott Hartnell struggled again. On the Rangers’ second goal (see video), he was caught so far behind the play the goal could have counted as a Rangers power-play marker. Hartnell, at this point, seems like a liability on the top line as opposed to a benefit. Is it time to replace him there for the foreseeable future? Brayden Schenn was brought up in place of Hartnell for the third period Sunday.
8. Steve Mason wasn’t as sharp Sunday afternoon as he had been in Friday’s Game 4 win. He didn’t play poorly, he just seemed to be fighting the puck more than he had in his last outing. In fairness, though, his defense let him down on the Rangers’ first goal (see video) (Braydon Coburn should have been able to block the shot) and second goal (Mark Streit left Brad Richards alone on the doorstep).
9. Hal Gill was the right choice to replace injured defenseman Nicklas Grossman in the lineup -- he’s the same kind of role player as Grossmann, has size and playoff experience. (And yes, I'm prepared for the onslaught of comments disagreeing with this statement.) But he struggled greatly Sunday. Let’s be clear: If Erik Gustafsson was in instead of Gill, the outcome would have been the same. But Gill did not have a strong outing in Game 5.
10. Let's end this on a positive note, shall we? Giroux finally got his first goal of the series, with a lot of help from Simmonds. They're an interesting combination. Could that pairing stick around for Game 6?