Flyers’ big guns still shooting blanks

Claude Giroux

PHILADELPHIA – Truth be told, the Flyers aren’t going anywhere unless their best players wake up.

Here are the ugly numbers:

Claude Giroux, no goals in 11 playoff games.

Wayne Simmonds, no goals in 11 playoff games.

Jake Voracek, no goals in 8 playoff games.

If that trend continues, the Flyers will be flying home from Pittsburgh on Friday night talking about their summer vacation plans instead of a possible Game 6.

It was more of the same on Wednesday night during a 5-0 loss to Pittsburgh, leaving the Flyers in a 3-1 hole in their first-round best-of-seven playoff series.

Giroux was a minus-3 for this game and is now a minus-7 for the series. Simmonds had three shots and nothing to show for it. Voracek was a minus-2 with only two shots off his stick.

Granted, the Penguins have been doing a good defensive job on the Flyers but shouldn’t this Big 3 at least be getting some quality chances?

“I’ve been trying to score goals here and trying to go to the net,’’ said Simmonds, who, like Giroux, hasn’t scored since the first-round series against the New York Rangers in 2014.

“But it can’t be just one and done,’’ Simmonds said. “It’s got to be everybody working together to get those opportunities here.’’

Giroux knows the numbers. He plays with pride and this is a difficult situation for him.

“Of course,’’ he said. “You want to help the team any way you can. You’re frustrated. A lot of guys are frustrated right now. But you can’t play frustrated against this team. You have to move on.’’

Couturier scratched

With Sean Couturier scratched for Game 4, the Flyers scrambled to adjust their lineup for a game they pretty much had to have.

More than 24 hours after the Flyers center was injured in a practice collision with teammate Radko Gudas, the team announced that there would no game action for No. 14

The prospects looked grim early in the day, given that Couturier did not take part in the morning skate at the Wells Fargo Center.

General manager Ron Hextall announced shortly after 10 a.m. that there was still no update on Couturier’s condition.

Then, at 6:30 p.m., came official word that Couturier, who suffered a lower-body injury, would not play.

Contingency plans were already started in the morning.

Rookie Nolan Patrick was moved up to Couturier’s spot at first-line center between Giroux (left) and Voracek.

Valtteri Filppula moved up to second-line center between Travis Konecny on the left and Simmonds on the right.

On the third line, Scott Laughton went to center with Jordan Weal (right) and Michael Raffl (right).

 

Couturier a Selke finalist

The NHL announced the Frank Selke Trophy (NHL’s best defensive forward) finalists on Wednesday night. As expected, Couturier, Los Angeles Kings’ Anze Kopitar and Boston Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron are the finalists. The winner will be named at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas in late June.

 

Elliott or Neuvirth for Game 5

The Flyers will have a decision to make in Game 5. Do they go back to Brian Elliott, who has been pulled twice in this series, or do they go with Michal Neuvirth, who looked pretty good in relief in Game 4.

Neuvirth was at his best in Game 5 of the Washington series two years ago. He relieved Steve Mason in Game 4 with the Flyers down, 3-0, won that game in Philadelphia, then put together a brilliant shutout gem in Game 5.

Can he use that experience if he gets another chance here?

“It’s a totally different series,’’ Neuvirth said. “It was a long time ago. We have to forget about tonight’s game, refocus and try to get a win in Pittsburgh and move it back here.’’

Short shots

Gudas would not field any questions about Couturier. . .Simmonds, Voracek and Valtteri Filppula were given off from the morning skate.

Wayne Fish
About Wayne Fish 300 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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