Flyers' Akeson making his presence felt

Posted: April 27, 2014

Some observations from Game 4 between the Flyers and New York Rangers on Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Jason Akeson, recalled from the AHL Phantoms for the next-to-last regular season game, has made a surprising impact in the series.

The 5-foot-10, 190-pound right winger set up the Flyers' first goal in the opening period Friday, and he alertly kicked the puck to Mark Streit at the point during a second-period power play, leading to a Jake Voracek goal that gave the home team a 2-1 lead - its first home lead in the series.

Akeson's strong play in the playoffs - he had a power-play goal in the Game 2 win - makes one wonder why he wasn't here earlier in the season.

The Rangers skated circles around the Flyers in the first period, but somehow the game was still tied at 1-1 after the opening 20 minutes.

Since the Flyers were facing almost an insurmountable 3-1 series deficit if they lost, it was surprising that they didn't play with much desperation in the first period, one in which the Rangers outshot them, 16-6.

Matt Read picked an opportune time to finally beat Henrik Lundqvist for the first time in 16 career games against the Rangers goalie.

Read scored on a rebound with 11:05 left in the first period, knotting the score at 1-1. It got the crowd back in the game. Until then, the Rangers had been controlling the action. After that goal, they resumed controlling the action.

The Flyers' power play missed a golden early chance, and it indirectly led to the game's first goal by the Rangers' Dominic Moore.

Zac Rinaldo drew a hooking penalty on Moore after 2:26. The Flyers did not manage any shots. At that point, they were 1 for 14 in home power plays against the Rangers this season, including the regular season.

Worse for the Flyers, Moore came out of the penalty box and fired a shot that Steve Mason saved, but the center hustled after the rebound behind the net and beat the goalie on a wraparound. It marked the second straight game a New York player had scored after coming out of the penalty box. Dan Carcillo did it on Tuesday.

Mason, making his first start since April 12 - he had been sidelined by an upper-body injury - was sharp in the first period and was the main reason the Flyers were still in the game. He stayed sharp as the game progressed.

If Nick Grossmann cannot play Sunday, it's possible the Flyers would turn to another stay-at-home defenseman, seldom-used Hal Gill, as his replacement. Early in the second period, Grossmann appeared to injure his knee; he left the ice and did not return.

If Grossmann is sidelined Sunday, the Flyers could go with puck-moving Erik Gustafsson for his speed, or they can turn to the massive Gill for his size (6-7, 243), experience (110 career playoff games), and defensive style.

Signage

Flyer fans taunted Lundqvist with a sign they pressed against the glass during warm-ups.

"Where's Your Crown King Nothing?" it read.

True, Lundqvist has never won a Stanley Cup, but it's not because of his play.

In 70 career playoff games before Friday, he had a 32-38 record, but his goals-against average (2.26) and save percentage (.921) were more indicative of his play.

Breakaways

The Flyers are 6-4 in playoff series against the Rangers, winning the last three (1987, 1995, and 1997). . ...Heading into Friday, the Rangers had outscored the Flyers, 7-3, in even-strength situations in the series.

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