The Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers will battle tonight in a winner-take-all Game 7 at Madison Square Garden.
To get to this point, the Flyers needed to win a pivotal Game 6 at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night. Wayne Simmonds’ netted his first career playoff hat trick while Erik Gustafsson scored in his first game of the series and Claude Giroux put home an empty-netter to give the Flyers a 5-2 victory.
That was last night and now the attention shifts to tonight.
“I think we just take the positives from this game and keep it rolling,” said Simmonds following Game 6. “We’ve got the momentum, we’ve got to put our foot on the pedal and we’ve just got to keep pushing forward.”
It is the best of one for the Flyers and Rangers. Despite the win the convincing win last night there are still areas the Flyers need to sure up for Game 7.
If the Flyers need any examples of how missed chances can determine a game, look no further than Game 5. The Flyers missed numerous chances in the first period on Sunday and the Rangers went on to take control of the game. On the flip side, the Rangers controlled much of the first half of the first period in Game 6 but couldn’t convert chances thanks to the stellar play of Steve Mason and the Flyers went on to control the game.
With an all-world goaltender like Henrik Lundqvist, there is no guarantee there will be a ton of chances for the Flyers. They need to capitalize on anything the Rangers hand them in Game 7.
Convert Power Plays
The Flyers have done a good job of this recently as they went 2-for-3 on the man-advantage in Game 6. They have scored at least one power play goal in each of their last three games and in four of the last five.
It is one thing to take a penalty (which the Flyers are very aware) but it is another to make a team pay for it. Power plays bring with them momentum. If a team converts on the power play, they get the momentum for obvious reasons. However, if a team kills off the penalty, then they grab momentum for coming up in a big situation.
What it boils down to is the Flyers need to convert on their power plays while staying out of the penalty box themselves.
Elite Players Making An Impact
There was a lot made of Claude Giroux’s impact, or lack thereof, in the first three games. It was probably blown out of proportion how many shots he had on net and how he didn’t record any goals. But there was an underlying truth in the criticism of Giroux and that is a team needs their elite players to step up if they want to win in the playoffs.
The Flyers regular season goal leader, Wayne Simmonds, stepped up with a hat trick in Game 6. Giroux has turned his game around in the second half of the series but the Flyers will look for him to be an impact scorer on the ice. Scott Hartnell and Brayden Schenn have not scored and have three assists apiece. Big games from those two would be a good sign for the Flyers.
Head coach Craig Berube stressed it prior Game 6 the Flyers need to come out with a “killer instinct.” The Flyers didn’t have that early in the first period of Game 6 but turned it on in a big way to take control of the game. In New York without the advantage of feeding off the energy of their own fans, the Flyers are going to have to have the killer instinct from the beginning.
This could come down to the goaltending and which one steps up for their team – Henrik Lundqvist or Steve Mason.
It should be a great game. The game is slated to begin at 7:00 pm at Madison Square Garden. The game can be seen nationally on NBC Sports Network.