Was game one of the Philadelphia Flyers’ matchup versus the Washington Capitals in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs a foreshadowing of the rest of the series? It’s still entirely too early to tell. While the Flyers made some costly mistakes throughout the entire game, credit is due to the orange and black for not failing miserably to the best team in the league. The outcome could have been much worse and they held their own for the most part. That’s not to say there are not several mistakes that were made that coach Dave Hakstol must iron out before game two tomorrow night.
During the first period, the Flyers were given three opportunities to open up scoring chances with power plays that they weren’t able to capitalize on. The power play has been a constant struggle for the Flyers and Hakstol needs to figure out a new strategy fast. Time and time again, they circle the puck behind the net to the left wing, back to Shayne Gostisbehere at the blue line who blasts it at the net, causing deflections for whichever man is standing in front of the net, usually either Brayden Schenn or Wayne Simmonds. Washington has grown wise to this tactic and shut the Flyers down.
Discipline was a huge factor in this game and the Flyers knew this going into it. The Flyers gave up too many penalties and gave Washington unnecessary power plays, giving them the advantage literally and mentally. Towards the end of the third period, Wayne Simmonds was ejected from the game after fighting Capitals’ Tom Wilson for checking Ryan White into the boards. During the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Flyers can’t afford to lose their leading goal scorer especially towards the end of the game.
In terms of losing players, the Flyers have lost Sean Couturier due to an AC sprain after a hit from Alexander Ovechkin into the boards. Losing Couturier will prove to be detrimental especially when trying to cover main offenders like Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. The Flyers may need to bring Scott Laughton in Couturier’s place to get on the penalty kill and shut down Washington offense. According to an update from the Philadelphia Flyers, Couturier will be out for two weeks.
Other key players will need to step it up and shake off last night’s game before heading into game two. Jakub Voracek’s turnover was possibly the most costly mistake of the game, leading to Washington’s insurance goal by Jay Beagle with 3:19 left to make it 2-0. Voracek has not been playing his best hockey even leading up to the postseason. Even rookie star, Shayne Gostisbehere was shaky which was possibly due to first playoff game jitters. He clawed the puck down to keep it in the offensive zone a few times, but overall was entirely off his usual game.
Despite the lack of discipline and missed opportunities, the Flyers did land on some bad luck as well. Defenseman Brandon Manning incurred a penalty in the second period for delay of game, although the puck happened to deflect off his stick as he unintentionally batted it. This led to John Carlson putting up the first goal for Washington.
This was the first playoff game for the Philadelphia Flyers in two years and coach Dave Hakstol’s first NHL playoff game, so it’s expected that the team has some kinks to work out. They need to have more control both mentally and with the puck. They need to stay out of the penalty box and focus on getting pucks at the net. The power play needs a whole new strategy as well.
The series is far from over and if the Flyers can secure one win on the road tomorrow night, they will be set up for a huge night on Monday. A tribute to recently deceased Chairman, Ed Snider, is set to take place right before puck drop and the home crowd will be more than ready to see a playoff game in the Wells Fargo Center after waiting two long years. Needless to say, there will be an immense emotional element involved on Monday which can either hurt or help the Flyers. Game two is set for tomorrow night in Washington at 7pm. Tickets are still available here.
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