It did not take long for Carter Hart to notch his first career playoff shutout, and it could not have come at a better time. The Flyers, still trying to get their top-6 rolling, hung on for a 1-0 win last night in Game 3.
So far, Hart and Canadiens goaltender Carey Price are showing why the focus of this series has been placed on them. The last two games in the series have had shutouts pitched by each goalie respectively.
There were not many highlights in this one, but there was one a little over five minutes into the first period. Shortly after a faceoff, Claude Giroux sort of just threw the puck near the net and Jake Voracek deflected it in for the only goal of the hockey game.
Now, the Flyers had great chances to extend this lead. With 11 minutes left in the first period, the Canadiens were given a double minor penalty for high sticking. I do not think the Flyers had a legitimate chance on goal until under two minutes left on that powerplay. There was another PP opportunity with 3:20 left in the period and that one at least had some sustained pressure from the first unit, but still no goal.
I will say, the Flyers did show up to play physically after getting bum-rushed in Game 2. At the end of the second period, they were outhitting MTL 27 to 13 and finished the game outhitting them 36 to 23.
It was also promising to see Travis Konecny after his blocked shot in Game 2, he laid a nice hit at the end of the second period and finished the game with five hits total.
Carter Hart was the star in this one, and the fact he can steal a game or two at this age is incredible. If the Flyers top-6 can get offensively involved more in this series, this Game 3 could be looked at as crucial from the standpoint of Hart held the line while the veterans got themselves together.
To touch back on the powerplay again, with the personnel we have on the man advantage we should look way more dangerous. I would still like to see players like Kevin Hayes parking themselves in front of Price more. In this game, the orange and black had six opportunities to give themselves from breathing room.
Going 0/6 on PP opportunities is a great way to lose in the playoffs, it is something that needs to be fixed very quickly. Philly is lucky that their penalty kill is good enough to get them out of trouble, but that cannot be relied on heavily in future rounds against stronger opponents.
Michael Raffl and Robert Hagg found themselves inserted back into the lineup for Joel Farabee and Shayne Gostisbehere. I was not sure if it would be Ghost or Justin Braun to get benched, but Braun’s play did seem to improve when paired with Hagg last night. Hagg also helps add some more physicality and shot blocking, he had three hits and three shot blocks. It was good to see Raffl back out there, and he had five hits on the game and played well.
One last topic of note is the Flyers forecheck, which has been rendered pretty ineffective this whole series. When Price can stop the puck behind the net and control play, the chances of a successful forecheck have been almost zero percent. There needs to be a change in strategy or dump-ins have to be good enough for Price to not be a factor.
The Flyers have to take a stranglehold of this series in Game 4. Going up 3-1 in a series increases your odds to move on exponentially, and MTL is a team you do not want hanging around as we have seen.
Game 4 is Tuesday afternoon at 3:00PM, hopefully a better outcome than their last afternoon game. Let’s Go Flyers!