NEW YORK -- When it comes to narrowing the field of focus, Craig Berube is pretty much dead-on.
It’s black and white with no 50 shades of grey.
All you need to know about the Flyers' 4-2 loss to the Rangers in Game 5 Sunday afternoon in Madison Square Garden happened in the first period (see Instant Replay).
“Definitely,” Berube said. “We lost the game in the first period. Just execution in general. There were plays there that if we executed, we probably could have had success. We did not execute.”
Those missed chances could be something the Flyers will look back on in dismay as the Rangers lead the series 3-2 with a chance to end it Tuesday in Game 6 at Wells Fargo Center.
The opportunities Berube speaks of included two early power plays in which the Flyers’ puck passing was missing sticks literally by feet.
They were horrific on the breakout, on entries, on containment, on passing and on shots -- they had just two on the first two power plays and just four shots on all five power pays in the game (see 10 observations).
“We had a pretty good opportunity there to get something going early,” said Andrew MacDonald, who like Kimmo Timonen, needs to make something happen on the Flyers’ power play.
“I don’t know if it was miscommunication. It seemed like [we made] errant passes. We just weren’t executing the plays that we wanted to. Unfortunately, that hurt us.”
It killed them.
The Rangers had two golden chances in the second period and turned both of them into goals (see highlights). First, Brad Richards got involved in a crease scramble in front of goalie Steve Mason.
Hal Gill, Mark Streit and Jakub Voracek all briefly had a chance for it, but Richards got it first and scored for a 2-0 lead.
“It was an original jam play that went right back onto [Marty] St. Louis’ stick and he put it across, and it went through a couple skates right onto the tape, and [Richards] had the net there to slide it into,” Mason said.
The second opportunity New York converted saw Braydon Coburn try to dish a pass across his left to Gill, playing for the first time in the series (see story).
The ice at the Flyers' defensive end has been terrible the entire series with bouncing pucks.
“Yeah, the puck wasn’t sitting too flat. ... Definitely the puck was bouncing a lot tonight," Mason said.
Coburn’s pass hit Gill’s skate and hopped behind him to Domonic Moore for a goal that made it 3-0 at 16:20. A killer goal, for certain in the series.
“A broken play with a bouncing pass to Hal there and Moore was able to come in and take advantage,” Mason said. “It went off my right arm. I didn’t get enough of it to make the save.”
MacDonald, like Berube, said the Flyers never took advantage of “quality chances” in the first period and it came back to bite them.
“We put ourselves in that situation, again,” Claude Giroux said. “We’ve got to have a better first period and when you have chances they have to go in.”
Power plays aside, again, the Flyers simply did not get enough quality chances on Henrik Lundqvist, especially off the rush at even strength.
“We could get more, not just off the rush, but we need to do more cycles,” said Vinny Lecavalier, who had the Flyers' lone power-play goal among five chances. “We need to create more once we are in their zone.
“Get some opening. They are playing tight defense and we have to battle through and get that rebound, that second shot. That’s where the goals [come] on the second shot.”
Berube said he has stressed more than once how to approach Lundqvist if the Rangers are pushing to the outside for a low-percentage shot.
“Some of the times we go down on the rush, whether it be a bad-angle shot, we are not shooting the puck for rebounds,” Berube said. “That’s the key. We’ve talked about it a number of times.
“You've got to understand a goalie of his caliber. If you don’t have a clean shot, put it on the net for a rebound. It’s an important play.”
While Lecavalier’s goal made it 3-1 going into the final period, Berube mixed up his lines -- he had been mixing his defensive pairs all day to compensate for Nick Grossmann’s absence -- but the Flyers did not score until he pulled Mason with a little over three minutes to play.
That’s when Giroux potted his first goal of the series to make it 3-2 with 1:29 left. Giroux seemed to have more room in this game, generating a team-high six shots.
“There was a minute left when I scored,” Giroux said. “It’s got to be better. ... I’m aware I’ve got to play better. I want to play better. It will happen. Game 6, it’s gonna be back at Wells Fargo.
“Obviously right now guys are a little frustrated and down, but guys are gonna have to get jacked up again.”