The New York Rangers came into Philadelphia and once again outplayed the Flyers for the majority of the game. This time, however, the Flyers couldn’t recover and the Rangers now take hold on the series going up two games to one.
In a game where the Flyers outshot New York 32-23, won the faceoff battle 33-28, and tied in hits 39-39, there was one stat which the Rangers were dominant and played a major part in their victory. The Rangers blocked 28 total shots in this game as opposed to the Flyers 11. Needless to say, there will be a lot of black and blue marks on Rangers players tomorrow.
Another major storyline in this game and the series in general has been the goaltending play of Ray Emery and the mysterious “upper body” injury of starter Steve Mason which had kept him out the first eight and a half periods of the playoffs. Steve Mason was originally a scratch for tonight’s game until only hours before both teams dropped the puck. Mason wound up dressing for the game and served as the backup for Emery. Sub-par play from Emery including a couple soft goals forced Flyers’ coach Craig Berube to pull Emery in place of Mason. It was probably the last we’ll see of Ray Emery this playoffs. Emery talked about his play after the game:
“Not an ideal start goal wise,” he said. “I thought we played at least two and a half really good periods and I deserved a better fate.”
When asked if he thinks he’ll be in net for Game 4, Emery said:
“I don’t know. I prepare like I’m going to play and coaches make those decisions.”
On a positive note, Flyers’ captain Cluade Giroux finally recorded his first shots on goal of the series with two after not recording any in the first two games. The Rangers are clearly trying to take him out of the game and it appears to be working so far. If the Flyers have any chance in coming from behind to beat the Rangers, Giroux needs to become more of a factor in these games. Claude talked about his performance and the team’s chances in Game 4:
“We played a good game,” he said. “I think at first we came out and didn’t play as smart as we wanted to, but at the end of the first when we got that goal, we got a little momentum and started playing. We started playing our game. They got a couple goals later on, but overall we played a good game.”
Giroux concluded saying:
“We’ll be ready for Game 4. We’re going to tie up the series and go back to New York.”
The Rangers tallied all four goals from four different players; Derek Stepan, Martin St. Louis, Dan Girardi and Dan Carcillo. The goal that iced the game for the Rangers and sent half of the Wells Fargo Center to the parking lot came off the stick of Dan Carcillo. Carcillo, aside from being a known goon and former Flyer, is also one of the classless players in the NHL. After scoring his first goal of the playoffs and fifth total for the year, Carcillo slammed his stick against the boards which nearly hit an official in the head. He went on to taunt Flyers fans and go after Claude Giroux in a scrum that led to a penalty.
The lone goal for the Flyers came from Mark Streit towards the end of the first period which riled up the crowd and looked to gain momentum going into the second period. The Rangers frustrating defense held the Flyers to that one goal and the momentum was lost.
Although coach Berube wouldn’t say so in the post-game press conference, it’s safe to assume that Steve Mason will start for the Flyers in net Friday night for Game 4. It seems that if Mason was healthy enough to serve as the backup for tonight’s game, he is healthy enough to start going forward.
Mason and the rest of the Flyers will be put in a must win scenario on Friday night as they look to avoid a three games to one strangle hold in the series. History tells us that teams down 3-1 in a playoff series lose 93% of the time. In other words, the Flyers better win on Friday or they (as well as their fans) will have to watch another team hoist the Stanley Cup this year.