I Guarantee A Game Three Win
Gloom rears its ugly visage in the minds of Flyers’ fans- as Philadelphia’s opening excursion to Chicago did not go well. Much like the Boston series, the Flyers did not play all that badly- with a little more luck probably deserved a split. But they got nothing past very,very pedestrian from Leighton in the first game- and last night could not cash in some good to decent chances for an early goal or the tying goal late.
That being said, the Flyers found they couldn’t win wither way they tried: up-tempo, trading chances/mistakes or a close to the vest game of execution. Frustration. These series are about finding a winning formula a team can repeat four times. Chicago has got an answer: exploitable match-ups at the bottom of the Flyers’ roster, particularly on defense. The only thing left for the Flyers- win a pair of must have home games.
Fortunately, that option remains. You’re not in real trouble in these best-of-seven series until you lose said home game. Chicago does boast a gaudy seven game road winning streak- but I’m not sure the sample size is relevant. The Blackhawks are winning because they are good- not necessarily bulletproof on the road.
Plus, getting back to Philadelphia will get the Flyers a chance to address their third pair defensemen woes. Boy, what a mess. The top four Flyers defensemen have played great in these play-offs. Their big ice time numbers, and the paucity of third and fourth line offense from Montreal, Boston and New Jersey, have hidden the fifth and sixth spots. Oskars Bartulis and Ryan Parent are not trusted. Krajicek must stand for “bad” in Czech.
One of the Flyers secret problems are some costly contracts in a capped league: Briere, Emery- add in an in-season trade to merely dump salary via losing talent. That is a few million that could have been used to get some situational defenders on the blue line in here.
So, do the Flyers try to play Game 1 (skate and exchange chances) or Game 2 (play mistake free, particularly in goal)? I’d like to see them force the tempo. Philadelphia is not really a mistake free outfit: they take penalties, they have some skill players who are never going to be plus players on their side of the red line, hard to trust Leighton. Plus, the ‘hawks are going to score- so the Flyers need to as well.
I actually feel pretty good about the next game. The Flyers aren't that bad- home ice ought to close the existing gap some, desperation the rest.