Flyers’ Monday Must Read: Pivotal Game 4

On Monday, The Hockey Writers will take stock of everything that happened in the Philadelphia Flyers organization. What were the results of the games played and the impact it had on their run towards the Stanley Cup? Which players were all over the stat sheets? We will also take a deep dive into social media to find the post of the week.

Not only will we look backward in time but we’ll also take a peek at the important information needed for the week ahead. What challenges do the upcoming opponents pose to the Orange and Black? Which players have a history of success against the looming adversary? The Flyers’ top prospects will also get featured in both sections as they gear towards making an impact in their postseasons.

The Week That Was for the Flyers

The Stanley Cup Playoffs’ first-round matchup with the Pittsburgh Penguins did not start quite the way the Flyers envisioned it. Their goaltenders did not perform well, as the Penguins, with a Sidney Crosby hat trick, won Game 1 7-0. Brian Elliott gave up five of those goals on just 19 shots. Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Shayne Gostisbehere were all a minus-4. The power play sputtered, only attempting two shots and not scoring in any of their four opportunities. The only positive from this game was the fact that a series could not be won after one game.

Hakstol Simmonds Giroux Couturier Flyers
Dave Hakstol, Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In Game 2, the Flyers made a statement that this will be a series for the two-time defending champion Penguins. Elliott bounced back in making 34 saves, and the power play pitched in two goals on three attempts. Despite having a Corsi-for percentage of 33.93, the Flyers won convincingly on the scoresheet, 5-1.

On Friday the 13th, Couturier can’t have bad luck. He scored his first postseason goal since Friday, Apr. 13, 2012, when he scored a hat trick in Game 2 against the Penguins at PPG Paints Arena.

Game 3 started out with the Flyers’ best period of hockey but Matt Murray and Sidney Crosby left them with a 1-0 deficit. Crosby finished with a four-point game and Murray stopped 26 shots, including 16 high-danger chances (with 10 of those in the first period) in a 5-1 Penguins victory. The Flyers’ PK gave up three goals in giving the top-ranked Pens’ power play seven opportunities. Brian Elliott was not as sharp, only stopping 21 of the 26 shots he faced.

This leads us to our social media post of the week from a former Flyers goaltender:

Down on the farm, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms finished their season with a 47-19-5 record and the Atlantic Division title. Phil Varone became the first player in franchise history to win the Les Cunningham Award as the AHL’s most valuable player. The 27-year-old finished second in the league in scoring with 70 points (23 goals, 47 assists) as the Phantoms were 37-7-3-1 this season in games when Varone records a point. They begin their run for the Calder Cup on Friday against the Providence Bruins.

What to Watch for This Week

The “Battle of PA” continues with a pivotal Game 4 in Philadelphia on Wednesday. This will be the only time in the series that the teams will have two days rest between games. This season, the Flyers had a record of 4-7-2 when they played on two days’ rest. Upon taking a deeper dive, they were 9-12-2 when they had two or more days of rest, including five losses to the Penguins.

The Penguins, on the other hand, were 10-6-2 when they had two days of rest between games during the regular season. When they had two or more days of rest, including before Game 1, they are 18-8-2. Game 5 will be back on the normal one-day rest in Pittsburgh on Friday, and a possible Game 6 would be in Philadelphia on Sunday.

For a Game 6 to happen, the Flyers will need more out of their captain, Claude Giroux. In the three games, he only has one power-play assist, seven shots on goal and is a minus-4 while playing 58:03. This is all while Crosby has seven points (four goals and three assists) playing mostly head-to-head. Giroux, the MVP candidate usually plays his best in the postseason, with 63 career points in 65 games played. He will need to be a force in the games this week for the Flyers to have a shot in this series.

Claude Giroux Matt Murray
Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray blocks a shot against Philadelphia Flyers center Claude Giroux. (Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)

Moving to the WHL playoffs, the Everett Silvertips moved onto the Western Conference Final for the first time since 2006. Carter Hart continued his dominance over the WHL and moved his record to 8-1-1 with a 1.92 goals-against average and 0.944 save percentage, stopping 319 shots of the 338 shots faced. The Silvertips will face the Tri-City Americans in the next round starting on Friday. Hopefully, he is feeling better after leaving during a 30-save series-clinching victory due to illness. He does seem in good spirits postgame: