Blocked shots key to Rangers' Game 3 win

Posted: April 25, 2014

While New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist had his best game of the series in Tuesday's 4-1 win over the host Flyers, he had plenty of help from his defense.

The Rangers blocked a series-high 28 shots, or just one fewer than they blocked in the first two games combined.

The Flyers, by comparison, had 11 blocked shots after blocking 44 in the first two games.

The Rangers own a two-games-to-one advantage in their best-of-seven, first-round Stanley Cup playoff series that resumes Friday at the Wells Fargo Center.

"That's huge, obviously, when guys pay the price like that," Lundqvist said. "It's tough mentally for the other team when you try to get going and guys are just throwing themselves in front of the puck and stop it."

How high was the blocked-shot total?

Consider that the Flyers only had one game the entire regular season when they had more shots blocked in a game.

The Flyers also had 20 missed shots in Game 3, meaning they had 48 shots that didn't reach the net, while 32 did.

"We have to do a better job," Flyers coach Craig Berube said. "We didn't do a better job getting pucks through to the net."

The Flyers had five power-play opportunities and only managed four shots. There were many more shots taken, but several were blocked before reaching goal.

"Power plays, we have to get shots through, and we didn't," Berube said.

During the regular season, the Rangers were 21st in the NHL in blocked shots, averaging 13.65 per game, so they more than doubled their average in Tuesday's win. (The Flyers averaged 14.63 blocked shots, which was 15th in the NHL.)

Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi was named the game's No. 1 star after scoring one goal and assisting on another. His contribution went well beyond the offensive end. Girardi blocked a game-high five shots.

"Our desperation, wanting to get the puck out, diving in front of shots, that was the difference," Girardi said.

Blocking shots can also have a deflating impact on the opposition, which seemed to be the case for the Flyers in Game 3. Conversely, a succession of blocked shots can be an energizer for the defensive team.

"I think it brings a lot of energy to the group when you see a big block like that, because every play matters right now," Lundqvist said.

The Flyers failed to score on the power play. In the series the Flyers are 2 for 9 on the power play, with one goal an empty-netter.

"The penalty kill stepped up big-time and saved us," Lundqvist said.

And a big part of that was the way the Rangers hurled their bodies on the ice to block shots. Now, the Flyers have to counter and get more of those shots on net.

Berube said the Flyers need better puck movement and to use a little more deception.

"You can't just one-time it all the time," Berube said. "I think you have to fake it, get it moving a little bit, and get them through."


mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard

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