HERE’S ALL YOU need to know about the Flyers’ woes when it comes to the New York Rangers.
Dan Carcillo has two goals in the seven games the teams have played against each other this season.
Claude Giroux has none.
Of course, it’s hard to score when the puck doesn’t reach the net, and for too much of his ice time against New York this season, Giroux has been hitting every piece of equipment on just about every Ranger standing in front of Henrik Lundqvist. Maybe he should do as the Car Czar Bomb has (when they’ve dressed him) — running all over the place, shuttling in and out of the penalty box, scoring a late goal that only punctuated the futility of the Flyers’ effort in their 4-1 loss last night.
On second thought, scratch that.
The Flyers threw 32 shots on Lundqvist. The bad news is that at least a dozen arrived like a poisoned bug, barely moving as they reached the crease. The Rangers also blocked 28 shots, their speed constantly closing what appeared to be open lanes.
“We had a lot of zone time with the puck,” said Flyers coach Craig Berube. “They did a good job with the puck. But we’ve got to get it to the net. You’ve got to fake, a little deception here and there, and get it through.”
“Everything has to happen quicker,” said Kimmo Timonen. “Not to let them settle. And we’ve got to get the pucks through somehow. Whether it’s moving pucks sideways. But I’ve got to give them credit. They do a really good job. Not just the ‘D,’ it’s forward, everybody. I’m sure we’re gonna watch some tape and try to find a way to get some pucks through to there.”
That would be nice. And hard. Because the Flyers really didn’t solve this in the four regular-season games the teams played or the previous two in this series. When Mark Streit joined the rush to finish off a three-on-two to cut the Rangers’ lead in half late in the first period last night, it marked the sixth goal Flyers defensemen have scored against New York this season, and the third already in this series.
Think about that. The Flyers have scored 14 goals in seven games against New York this season and their defensemen have nearly half them. Four blueliners have scored. Luke Schenn, who scored the Flyers’ third goal in that pivotal second period Sunday, has two against the Rangers this season. As does Streit after his snap shot in the high slot beat Lundqvist just under the crossbar.
Streit’s goal ignited an offense that had spent much of the period missing each other with passes, incurring penalties, and taking much too much time gathering and chipping pucks along the boards. As was the case for most of Game 1 and at the start of Game 2, the Rangers appeared to be just too fast for the Flyers in both zones, pinning them on one end and escaping their forecheck on the other.
That changed for a long while after Streit’s goal. There was zone time. There was pressure. A couple of minutes later, Schenn’s blast from the point deflected just wide of the Rangers’ net.
The Rangers got goals from their two top lines in addition to Carcillo. And while the Rangers were kneeling, sliding and surrendering their bodies, Dan Girardi’s second-period goal — which gave the Rangers a 3-1 lead and halted momentum built after Streit’s goal — passed through at least two sets of Flyers legs.
“It’s huge, obviously, when guys pay the price like that,” said Lundqvist. “It’s tough mentally for the other team when you try to get going and guys are just throwing themselves in front of the puck and stopping it.”
For the record, the Flyers were credited with 11 blocked shots.
And one goal from a defenseman joining the rush.
Maybe that’s the solution. Greater risk. Greater reward.
“If the ‘D’ needs to jump in the play to get opportunities, that’s what we need to do,” said Streit. “Because they collapse. All five guys collapse. They’re right in front of the crease. That’s why it’s so open at the blue line.
“They go on one knee a lot to try and cover more of the net. But that’s an opportunity because they can’t move when they do that. So maybe we need to fake shots and take it wide and get it on the net and get a few rebounds.”
It’s an idea. For a team that looked awfully close, at the end of last night’s game, to be out of them.
“I’m sure we’ll watch the tape and come up with something,” Timonen said.
Something’s better than nothing. You hope.
On Twitter: @samdonnellon