Flyers look to energize dimming power play for Game 4

Sean Couturier

Just because the Flyers won Game 3 of their playoff series on Sunday night doesn’t mean they’re completely thrilled with their game.

The faltering Philadelphia power play could top the list of things which have room for improvement.

In their 1-0 win to take a 2-1 lead over Montreal in the best-of-seven series, the Flyers shot blanks in six opportunities with the man advantage.

For the postseason, they are now a less-than-mediocre 1 for 25.      During a Zoom call from Toronto on Monday, coach Alain Vigneault hinted there might be both personnel and structural changes on the power play for Game 4 on Tuesday, 3 p.m.

“There’s no doubt our power play, we’re going to make a couple adjustments,’’ Vigneault said. “But if you look at Sunday night’s game, we were able to force Montreal to take six penalties. We worked it hard and spent time in their zone.

“I believe with the personnel we have and the way we were able to make it click in that 20-game stretch (before the pandemic), so I believe we’re going to find a way to make it click.’’

Vigneault better hope so because the Flyers somehow hold a one-game edge in this series despite scoring only three goals in three games. That ratio is probably not a winning one for a seven-game series.

“Our execution (on the power play) right now is a little off,’’ the coach said. “We need to make a couple minor adjustments. Talking about that this morning with players and we’re going to come up with a plan and I believe we’re going to be better tomorrow.’’

Sean Couturier has yet to score in the series and he acknowledges the Flyers probably need to exert more pressure on Montreal goaltender Carey Price to get the job done.

Might Vigneault try something drastic, like moving James van Riemsdyk onto the top unit to create more visual problems for Price? JVR has been effective in that role in the past, following a recent tradition of success which included Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and Scott Hartnell.

“It (creating traffic) is something I think you always want to do,’’ Couturier said. “You want to make it hard on any goalie. It’s always tough for a goalie to stop what he can’t see.

“It’s always something we emphasize but at the same time I think we have to find a way to get more chances on net and rebounds. I don’t know yet what the looks are going to look like. But we’ll bring what adjustments are necessary.’’

>Top lines look to get going

While the Flyers’ top line of Couturier, Jake Voracek and Claude Giroux did produce the only goal in Game 3, both Couturier and Giroux have yet to find the net for the series.

Couturier believes his line has been doing the right things, just not finding a way to finish.

“I think defensively we’re there, responsible,’’ Couturier said. “But we have to find a way to create some chances. I think there are a lot of one-and-dones.

“But as long as we’re responsible and trying to contribute in different ways when it’s not working. . .we’re finding ways to win games, which counts at this time of the year.’’

Kevin Hayes, who centers the second line of Travis Konecny and Scott Laughton, said his trio also needs to turn it up a notch.

“I think in the two games we won, we played the right way defensively,’’ Hayes said. “I think they hit a couple posts but we did as well. Between the two (top) lines, I think we do need to provide a little bit more offensively. We’re trying our hardest to do so.

“It’s playoff hockey and sometimes you have to win 1-0. I’m sure we would like to win by scoring a lot of goals but it just doesn’t happen. We’ll regroup, watch film and see what we can do better.’’

Vigneault knows the three games played so far are a small sample size. He has faith in the Hayes line and believes things will change.

“Offensively it’s been challenging for both teams (except Montreal in Game 2),’’ Vigneault said. “It’s playoff hockey. Not a lot of room, it’s very competitive, very physical. Have they (Hayes line) gotten the same looks prior to the playoffs? Maybe not. But I do know they’re working extremely hard. They’re going to bounce back with a much better game.’’


>Short shots


Hayes said Montreal is strong down the middle with Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Nick Suzuki. “They drive their offense. I think if we can handle them we should be successful.’’ Hayes said. . .While the players have been cooped up in the Toronto “bubble’’ for nearly three weeks, Vigneault says the players are doing OK. “We’re in a pretty good facility here. Guys are finding ways to keep themselves busy – video games, talking to their loved ones on FaceTime, It’s a different time but I feel we’ve been fortunate to be given this opportunity.’’. . .The Flyers will play back-to-back on Tuesday/Wednesday, so there’s little time for practice. Philadelphia was off on Monday, so there figures to be a lot of video watching. “In playoff hockey, lots of times practice time is limited, almost none,’’ Vigneault said. “You do the adjustments you can through video, then you give them the opportunity to show what they can do.’’

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About Wayne Fish 2338 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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