Flyers-Rangers: Postgame Review
This team runs so hot and cold, it's not even funny. After turning in the worst period of the season that ultimately was their downfall in a 5-2 loss in Buffalo on Wednesday, one that had the fanbase sharpening pitchforks and lighting torches ready for some form of change to be made, the Flyers responded with a quality win against a divisional opponent.
The Rangers came into this game on a 9-1-1 stretch and the Flyers really limited them throughout the game. Cal Pickard had his moments, but it was an otherwise fairly easy 31-save shutout for him as well.
Let's break it down in our Postgame Review.
- The Top Line - After Wednesday's game, Claude Giroux said that everyone needed to wake up in the Flyers locker room. Giroux took his own message and boy did Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny listen and buy in too. The trio was dominant.
Giroux quietly ended up with three assists, all secondary. Konecny had a goal, two assists and a fight, getting a Gordie Howe hat trick. Couturier had three points as well. Collectively, they were on the same page from the start, using crisp passing to set up all three goals.
Konecny's goal was a little flukey, hitting off the skate of Brady Skjei on a rebound, but the Flyers will take that 100 times over. Both of Couturier's goals came off great plays by Giroux and Konecny. On the entries into the zone, the Flyers started the quick passing and made it easy for Couturier to be the finisher on both.
This is the type of game that you hope stays with this group and rubs off on the other lines. The Flyers were far less dominant with the other lines on the ice and need to get the whole group rolling again.
- Pick-ing Them Up - Cal Pickard wasn't tested often. He made just eight saves in the first period. In the second period, he saw 13 shots and was on point, making a few challenging saves.
Sometimes, it's not the quantity of the saves as much as it is quality and sometimes, it's reversed. The Rangers didn't stop putting the puck on net and Pickard made every save. But the Flyers biggest problem in goal hasn't been getting every save, it's getting the big save when it's needed most.
With under six minutes left in the third, in a 1-0 game, they got it. Pickard was one-on-one with Lias Andersson. Andersson made the move and it wouldn't have been shocking to see him tuck it in past the outstretched pad of Pickard. Instead, Pickard held his ground, made the save and kept the puck out.
He got some luck a few seconds later, as the Rangers hit the post, but the Flyers went down the other end seconds after that and scored to make it 2-0. That's your game in a nutshell. The Flyers quite possibly don't win this game, and maybe don't get a point out of it if Pickard doesn't make that save.
- King Henrik - Credit where it is due here: the Flyers didn't hesitate to put pucks on net and Henrik Lundqvist was outstanding. He made 42 saves, and quite honestly, without him being in vintage form, who knows what the score is. One thing is for sure, the Flyers wouldn't have been held to four goals without Lundqvist.
The Flyers had a ton of scoring chances in the second period. They had 12 high-danger chances in that period alone. Lundqvist stopped them all.
Last season, it sure seemed like Lundqvist was losing his game, that his elite status may be in question. In this performance, he showed he's got a lot left in the tank and is still capable of being the King Henrik of old.
- Controlling the Play - The third period is exactly what the Flyers should strive for every time they have a lead. There was no sitting back, no hoping to hold on. Instead, the Flyers controlled the play. They maintained possession. They didn't take the foot off the gas and it paid off with three goals down the stretch to seal a win.
The box score is going to show a three-goal third period that put the game away. In reality, this was a one-goal game down the final five minutes and one mistake away from sending the Flyers free-falling toward a fifth-straight loss.
The Flyers deserve a lot of credit for not only the strategy in the third, but for maintaining a crisp and solid level of play. There were no egregious turnovers. They stayed disciplined. They didn't give the Rangers much of an opportunity to get the tying goal. When the Rangers got that glorious chance, Pickard made a save and the Rangers hit the post after that. That was as close as they got.
This is one period where the Flyers can file it away and pull out the same strategy in the future.
- Dale Weise - There were certainly a few eye-rolls and frustrated sighs when Dale Weise took a line rush and played on the second line with Nolan Patrick and Jake Voracek as Oskar Lindblom moved to the fourth line. Weise has been good lately, but not top-six good, right?
Don't tell him that. He was every bit a top-six player for the Flyers in this game, running with the opportunity. Weise was constantly around the net, in the face of Lundqvist and generating chances. His only blemish may have been a holding penalty, which wasn't really a hold, that put the Flyers shorthanded. It didn't matter, as his teammates took care of the rest.
Who knows how long Weise will last on the second line, but for this game, it worked to perfection. I guess moving Weise up in the lineup will last as long as he wants it to based on his play. Friday was a good first impression.
By the Numbers
How well did the Flyers play in terms of the analytics? They had a 63.48 CF% at 5-on-5 for the game, taking 73 shot attempts to 42 for the Rangers. They led in each of the first two periods and played to a 17-17 tie in shot attempts in the final 20 minutes. As for getting traffic around the net, the Flyers had 20 high danger scoring chances in the game to just five for the Rangers, including 12 in the second period. Miraculously, none of those chances found the net.
Stat of the Game
All in a day's work for Sean Couturier. The Flyers forward had two goals, one assist, was a plus-3, took eight shots, had two blocked shots and three takeaways in 19:09.
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.