If you exclude an empty-net score in Game 2, the Flyers have just five goals in their Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Pittsburgh Penguins, an average of 1.67 goals per game.
Coach Dave Hakstol said Monday he hasn’t made a decision on whether he will alter the lines or add a player to the lineup to try to get more production Wednesday in Game 4 at the Wells Fargo Center.
But he sounded as if he was going to make some changes.
“We always take a close look at it and try to consider whether it’s a tweak in combinations, whether it’s potentially a change in personnel,” he said. “I think that all has to be on the table on a daily basis during the playoffs. That doesn’t mean there will be [changes], but I can tell you we are looking close at everything.”
Among his options: playing winger Jordan Weal for the first time in the series, and flip-flopping third-line winger Travis Konecny and first-line winger Michael Raffl. He could also play defenseman Robert Hagg.
Hakstol said he was looking at “how we can get a little more out of our team and be a little bit better in our five-on-five play.”
The third-year coach said he didn’t want to overreact to the 5-1 loss in Game 3, but “you have to look a little deeper into what’s the best lineup for Game 4 … and what gives us the best chance in this series. We’ve got a group of guys — some who have been out of the lineup — and they’re as big a part of this as guys who have been in the lineup every single day. So if we feel by putting someone new in the lineup who can help us and spark us and help a combination, we’ll do that.”
Weal had four points in the regular season against the Penguins. No Flyer had more points.
Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray has badly outplayed Brian Elliott – who has gallantly returned from core-muscle surgery that sidelined him for nearly two months – over the first three playoff games.
Murray has a 1.70 goals-against average and .929 save percentage. Elliott’s numbers: a 4.43 GAA and an .863 save percentage.
In their postseason careers, Murray is 24-10 with a 1.93 goals against average and .928 save percentage, while Elliott is 16-24 with a 2.71 GAA and .905 save percentage.
Michal Neuvirth is close to being able to play, but Elliott is expected to get the call Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center.
Murray survived the Flyers’ first-period barrage in Game 3 as the Penguins bounced back from a 5-1 loss. It wasn’t unexpected. He is 9-1 with a 1.52 goals-against average and .939 save percentage in playoff games after a Pittsburgh loss.
“He has a real quiet confidence about him,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.
Wayne Simmonds says he’s 100 percent healthy, but he hasn’t looked it down the stretch and in the playoffs. The usually relentless Simmonds has just one point – an assist – in the playoffs, and one goal over the last 12 games.
Hakstol said that “Simmer has been playing pretty good hockey,” but the right winger appears to be laboring.
“He has to be a guy that helps us real quickly get over the disappointment [of Game 3] and come back and play a complete game,” Hakstol said after Sunday’s defeat.
On Monday, Hakstol called Simmonds a “playoff warrior” and said he needed to “find the right avenue for him to impact this series. That’s something as a coach I’ve got to do a better job of.”
The Flyers have outshot the Penguins in just one of the nine periods in the series. The teams were even in shots in one period. … Sidney Crosby has 171 career playoff points (151 games), one shy of equaling the franchise record held by Mario Lemieux, who scored 172 points in 107 games. … Both teams took a day off from practice Monday. The Penguins went back to Pittsburgh to be able to spend time with their families and have a practice at their own facility Tuesday, “where we have a comfort level,” Sullivan said … The Flyers will practice in Voorhees at 11 a.m. Tuesday.