*Image courtesy of Flyers official site.
Last night’s loss was a tough one. Losing a close game at home like that to start the series should never feel good, especially when your team carried the play for most of the game. The Flyers get back at it on Saturday though, and this is as much as a “must-win” can be for Game 2 in a series. The Flyers did a lot of things well last night, but there are some things they need to improve on. Once again, Ryan Miller proved to be the great goalie he is, but he was not tested much. The quantity of chances were there, but some of them lacked quality. Miller had too easy of a time in front of his crease with the Flyers not opting to get in his face as much as they should. This directly affected their powerplay being 0% on the night, including a brief 5-on-3 that did not execute.
To put it simply, the Flyers’ powerplay looked like they had some life at times, but still failed to create quality scoring chances on a solid Buffalo penalty kill. The last powerplay of the game with a great chance to tie the game up late in the third went awry, and no chances were created… leaving the Flyers’ comeback seem improbable. The Flyers killed off Buffalo’s only powerplay, and Bobrovsky looked like a good goaltender for most of the game. His one juicy rebound left a perfect scoring opportunity for Buffalo’s Patrick Kaleta, and he buried it. The Flyers out-shot them 35-25, and tied their regular season high with 40 hits in the game. It was just one of those games that we all knew could happen; Miller made the saves he had to and the Flyers couldn’t execute when it came down to the wire.
I’m not sure if the line-up/lines will change at all for tomorrow’s 5 PM puck drop. I would have liked to see Zherdev get in the game last night, his scoring touch could have helped. But I do understand Laviolette’s logic on that one. He had two scoring lines (Briere and Carter’s) and two checking/gritty lines (Richards and Betts’). A balanced defensive and offensive attack to take on Buffalo, but we shall see. Nodl played well last night, but I still would like to see Zherdev play for somebody. The physical game was there last night, but I’d still like to think there can be some improvement made. If they can do a better job of making Miller’s life tough in the crease and get in his face, the goals will come. The one thing that can go wrong is if they think they played a great game last night, then come out tomorrow not hungry for the puck. If that happens, the series will be over sooner than we think.
I still say Flyers in 6, the Sabres stole a close game on the road and kudos to them, but there’s a lot of hockey left. JVR had a great game last night, and I expect him to cash in tomorrow. Maybe Pronger will be back tomorrow? Who knows. Not time to panic Flyers fans, we have a good team. They just have to execute and keep it simple. Let’s Go Flyers!