Flyers fall flat in Game 5

This article can be found published on Chicks Who Give a Puck.
The Philadelphia Flyers fall behind 3-2 in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Chicago Blackhawks. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The Philadelphia Flyers fall behind 3-2 in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Chicago Blackhawks. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

After much was made over the Philadelphia Flyers seeming to be the looser team, they also came out at the flatter team Sunday in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

For the first time this postseason, the Flyers lost past Game 4.  Before the game Sunday night, the Flyers were 5-7 in Games 1-3 and a stunning 9-0 in Games 4-7.

The Flyers were unable to keep the perfect streak going, falling to the Chicago Blackhawks, 7-4 and falling behind in the series again, 3-2, setting up the possibility of the Blackhawks clinching the Stanley Cup in Philadelphia Wednesday night.

What went wrong?

Michael Leighton, who recorded six wins, three shutouts, a 1.45 goals-against average and a .948 save percentage in the two rounds prior to the Finals, has not looked as sharp.  After the five games played, Leighton has only gotten two wins and watched his numbers inflate to a 2.47 goals-against average and .909 save percentage.

After some big saves in the first few minutes of the game, Leighton began to crumple.  He was out of position and seemed unsure of where the puck was.  In a span of six minutes, the Blackhawks scored three goals on 13 shots.

Brent Seabrook scored the Blackhawks’ first 5-on-4 power play goal of the series and Dave Bolland and Kris Versteeg added the other tallies.

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette gave Leighton the hook in the first intermission and came out with back-up Brian Boucher.  Boucher posted similar results, allowing three more goals on 14 shots through the next two periods before the ‘Hawks added an empty netter with little over two minutes in the game.

But the goalies can’t hold all the blame.

The defense the Flyers prided themselves on playing was almost non-existent.  Chris Pronger played the worst game of his career, going a -5.  He was in the box for one of the goals and on the ice for the other six.  Pronger did so well in negating the ‘Hawks top offensive scoring threats, but seemed miniscule last night.  Patrick Kane scored a goal and Dustin Byfuglien had two goals.

The most notable difference between the two teams was the way they approached the game.  The Blackhawks came out in desperation in front of their home crowd and played a fast, upbeat game.

When watching the game, the Blackhawks almost seemed to have magnets in their sticks.  The puck was drawn to them throughout the entire game.  They had clean, crisp passes to each other and were able to cycle the puck in the Flyers’ end.

The Flyers, on the other hand, came out flat and emotionless.  For a team coming off of two big wins at home, they did not carry any of the momentum over.  Pucks were turned over, they could not get any cycling going and the team crumbled around their goalies.

The Flyers seemed to have reverted back to the team from December.  You all remember that one.  The team that was 29th in the NHL.

Even after such a crushing loss, the Flyers can look back to the last series against the Montreal Canadiens.  Game 3 of that series was a 5-1 loss.

The reaction from the players that night said it all.

“That was an old-fashioned (butt) kicking,” captain Mike Richards said in his postgame interview.

The next game?  The Flyers came out on fire and shutout the Canadiens, 3-0, en route to winning the series in five games.

Could the same be expected for Game 6?

“Maybe we might have been a little bit cocky and might have thought we just had to throw our sticks on the ice, but, obviously not the case,” Richards said after Sunday’s loss.

After everything fans have witnessed from the Flyers through these playoffs, no one can give up hope.  The series is returning home Wednesday night and the team can feed off the amped up crowd.

Laviolette has decided on who his starting goaltender will be for Game 6, but refuses to release the information to the public.  Expect to see Leighton back between the pipes.  He has shown to be resilient after a bad game.

The key to a Flyers win on home ice?  Coming out strong in the first.  They cannot afford to keep playing from behind, especially against a team like the Blackhawks.

Even if Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville keeps Jonathan Toews and Kane split, it should be no problem for the Flyers defense who can boast four top defenders in Pronger, Matt Carle, Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn.

The Flyers need an overall better effort if they want to tie the series and force a Game 7.

The final question I leave you with: If the Flyers do win Wednesday night, then who will win it all in Game 7?  Will home ice be the deciding factor in this series?

NOTES

  • Danny Briere needs only two more points to break the Flyers record for most points in the postseason.
  • Pronger needs only two more points to break the Flyers record for most points by a defenseman in the postseason.
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Categories: Ice Hockey, NHL, Sports

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