PHILADELPHIA – Back on their home ice, the Philadelphia Flyers fizzled on the power play.
No surprise there.
The Flyers ranked 25th in the NHL in power-play efficiency at home during the regular season, scoring on 15.1 per cent of their chances. On the road, they were No. 1 with 34 goals in 135 opportunities (25.2 per cent).
In Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series, the Flyers had more power-play opportunities than shots during the man-advantage. They went 0 for 5 and managed just four shots on Henrik Lundqvist.
The unit is the same: Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Scott Hartnell, Wayne Simmonds and Kimmo Timonen. But the results are much different at home.
“On the power play, I think we’ve got to move the puck quicker than we are,” Flyers coach Craig Berube said. “I think it’s too predictable with what we’re doing with Giroux and Timonen. We have to move it around more and get it in Voracek’s hands more. You can’t just one-time it all the time. I think you have to fake it, get it moving a little bit and get them through. You have Simmonds and Hartnell at the net, big guys, they’re good with their sticks, so it’s important just to get it there. All year they’ve done a good job around the net with finding the pucks and putting them in.”
Game 4 is Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center. The Rangers lead the best-of-seven series 2-1 and will have a chance to wrap it up at home Sunday if they win this next one.
The Flyers scored two power-play goals in four chances in the first two games of the series at Madison Square Garden. But fans in New York are merely screaming insults at them. In Philadelphia, an impatient, sellout crowd puts extra pressure on the team.
“It’s a little harder when 18,000 people yell, ‘Shoot!’ after 20 seconds on the power play,” Voracek joked before Game 3. “No, just kidding.”
Maybe. Maybe not.
The Rangers’ staunch defence deserves credit for killing off the penalties and not allowing the Flyers to get in any offensive rhythm. The Rangers blocked five shots on one of Philadelphia’s power-play chances and had 28 blocks in the game.
“They do a good job there,” Timonen said. “We have to do it better. They blocked way too many shots and we have to find a way to do it quicker, and better. Everything has to happen quicker and not let them settle. We have to get the puck through somehow. If that means moving the puck sideways, or whatever. I have to give them a lot of credit. It’s not just the defence, it’s the forwards, it’s everybody.”
Rookie Jason Akeson had a power-play goal in Game 2 and Simmonds scored another into an empty net. Giroux, who was third in the NHL in scoring this season, has pair of assists but no goals in the series. He didn’t even manage a shot on Lundqvist until the second period of Game 3 after getting shut out on shots in the first two.
That didn’t stop Giroux from sort of guaranteeing a win.
“We’ll be ready for Game 4. We’re going to tie up this series and go back to New York,” he said. “We just have to stay confident. That’s why it’s the playoffs. It’s exciting. We’re going to come off even better in Game 4.”