Think these Flyers are worried that the New York Islanders have never lost a series after leading 3-1 (10-0) and Philadelphia’s hockey franchise is just 1-17 when facing such a significant deficit?
They’re just approaching Thursday night’s Game 6 hour-by-hour, knowing the next one could be their last.
Flyers coach Alain Vigneault must be one of the few NHL coaches to come back from a 3-1 deficit not once, but twice (2014, 2015), both while coaching the New York Rangers.
Vigneault, whose Flyers still trail the Islanders by a 3-2 margin in this best-of-seven series, knows you can’t start thinking about Game 7 until you take care of Game 6.
He spoke about the subject during a Zoom call from Toronto early Thursday afternoon.
“It’s one game at a time, one shift at a time,’’ said Vigneault, using a line that’s only been around about, oh, a hundred years. “You can’t be looking at the big picture.
“(Focusing), that’s what we were doing last game, we were looking at that game, the process we needed to put on the ice to give ourselves the best chance. That’s what we need to focus on tonight. We have to be focused on the details of the game, we have to be hungry, have that will.’’
>Couturier doubtful for Game 6
While Vigneault couldn’t officially comment on the status of Sean Couturier, who was injured in the second period of Game 5, it sounded as if the coach already has made plans to be without his star center for Game 6.
“Throughout our season and this time here in the back to play, we’ve been of the mentality of next man up,’’ Vigneault said. “And who is ready to play. Throughout the season, I think the Flyers had the most rookie players play their first game in the NHL and we just kept playing (finishing with the top seed in the Eastern Conference).
“Before every game we have decisions for lineups, obviously not everyone is a hundred percent at this time of year. We’ll do our best to put the best lineup we feel is going to give us a chance to win.’’
If Couturier doesn’t play, the Flyers figure to put Scott Laughton in his spot on the first line with Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek.
“Listen,’’ Vigneault said, “nobody can replace ‘Coots.’ He’s one of the best two-way centers in the league. He’s very dependable and trustworthy.
“When we put Scotty in there during that game (Game 5), we felt he was our best option. He had a lot of energy, a lot of jump to his game. He was winning puck battles. So we’ll see what unfolds here tonight.’’
>Power play mystery
The Flyers finished 14th (out of 31 teams) in the NHL with a 20.8 percent success rate on the power play during the regular season but the postseason has been a different story.
In the playoffs, they are clicking at just 8.7 percent, which is ranked 23rd out of the 24 teams which began play in early August.
Any particular reason why things have dropped off so drastically?
“That’s an area that we’ve been spending a lot of time with,’’ Vigneault said. “A lot of video work, there’s less practice time. We were able to touch on a few things at our morning skate today.
“I believe we have the personnel. We’ve gotten some better looks lately. If we keep getting those looks, I’m confident just like five-on-five the puck will find the back of the net.’’
>Planning for Barzal
Although Islanders coach Barry Trotz called his star forward Matthew Barzal (who suffered a head injury due to a Giroux high stick in Game 5) a “game-time decision,’’ the Flyers figure he’s pretty much going to play.
That said, the Flyers are more focused on their own structure than the Islanders.
“We hope it’s nothing serious,’’ Vigneault reiterated. “It was an unfortunate accident. We’re focused on our team. What we need to do – whoever the Islanders put on the ice, they’re going to be good players and they’re going to come to play.’’
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