A 4-0 loss might look rather disturbing on paper but Flyers coach Alain Vigneault doesn’t believe his team played badly enough to require major changes.
That was his take on Tuesday after watching video of his team getting dismantled in Game 1 of their best-of-seven series on Monday night.
Game 2 is scheduled for Wednesday (3) at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
Unlike a 5-0 blasting by Montreal in Game 2 of the first-round series, the top-seeded Flyers were in this game after 40 minutes, trailing only 1-0.
After a dreadful first period, the Flyers roared back in the second and completely dominated the Islanders, ringing up a 15-7 shot margin.
Problem was, they couldn’t get a puck past goalie Semyon Varlamov.
So it was back to the drawing board on Tuesday, if only to discuss ways to avoid a repeat of the mistakes the Flyers committed in Game 1.
Of course, the Flyers’ stagnant offense continues to be an issue. If you don’t include the round-robin tournament, the Flyers have scored only 11 goals in seven games. That’s not going to get it done in the long run.
Are there any changes Vigneault can make to get things going?
“At this time, we have to do what’s best for the team,’’ Vigneault said during a midday Zoom call. “Find ways to win one game. There’s no secret how the Islanders are going to play us, they’re going to come at you, forecheck hard, finish every check.
“They’re going to be very dependable in their own end so it’s going to make it hard to get to the front of their net. We have our work cut out for us but I don’t believe it was a 4-0 game. We just have to find a way to make better plays with the puck.’’
The Flyers have experienced some clunkers this past season, so they kind of know what corrections they have to make.
“I don’t think those games (the Montreal fiasco and the Islander defeat) were comparable,’’ Vigneault insisted. “Give Montreal a lot of credit but we weren’t very good.
“Our second period (vs. New York) was very good and in the third period (when the Islanders scored their second and third goals) there were mistakes. Again, I go back to we know exactly what to expect from the Islanders as far as them coming at us. You have to be willing to take a hit to make a play with the puck. Our guys always bounce back and tomorrow will be a big test to that.’’
>Top scorers’ dilemma
Vigneault was asked for the umpteenth time if there’s anything he can do to get some of his top-end scorers, such as Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny, untracked.
Does he give a pep/strategy talk or just let them work it out on their own?
“I would say it’s a combination of both,’’ he said. “Last night, anyone who watched that game, ‘Coots’ and Jake (Voracek) had a hard time with the puck.
“They’re elite players in this league, they’re our top-end guys. We need those guys to be on top of their game, both defensively and with the puck offensively. They aren’t the only guys – but obviously when you don’t score a goal in a game, the focus is going to be a little bit more on those guys. I believe in them, I expect our whole team to be better.’’
Perhaps the players have to understand that playing a defense-minded team like the Islanders means good scoring chances only come along every so often. When they do, you have to capitalize.
“At the end of the day, the game the Islanders play, how many looks are you going to get five-on-five in a game?’’ Vigneault said. “They’re hard to come by. You have to work for every inch.
“At this time of year, when you’re down to eight teams, the games are that much tighter and harder fought. So it’s to be expected there won’t be a lot of room out there. Players have to work extremely hard to create that room. When they get some looks, hopefully they can find the back of the net.’’