Inside the Flyers: Flyers have several needs to fill

Posted: May 03, 2014

Steve Mason outplayed the great Henrik Lundqvist, Rick Nash didn't score a goal for the Rangers, and the Flyers stopped New York's last 21 power plays.

How, then, did the Flyers lose the first-round playoff series in seven games?

Quite simply, they didn't have the puck enough, and didn't match the Rangers' speed or defensive excellence.

So general manager Paul Holmgren - assuming he stays in the position and doesn't hand the baton to assistant GM Ron Hextall - has a rather substantial to-do list in the offseason.

The good news is that the Flyers discovered they have a goalie - Mason - who is good enough to take them on a Stanley Cup run.

The bad news: He doesn't have enough support.

The Rangers eliminated the Flyers, 2-1, in a tense Game 7 Wednesday at Madison Square Garden. The Flyers had one atrocious period - the second - and it cost them.

"We didn't initiate enough and play with enough aggressiveness," Flyers coach Craig Berube said. ". . . We didn't play our best hockey."

Excluding empty-net goals, the Flyers had just 14 goals in the seven games.

None of the goals was by Scott Hartnell, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, or Michael Raffl. Vinny Lecavalier and Matt Read each had just one goal.

Paging Matt Moulson? The speedy winger is among the potential free agents who could interest the Flyers.

Lecavalier, who played just 10 shifts that covered 8 minutes, 45 seconds Wednesday, wasn't the same player after injuring his back early in the season. The hope is he returns to his pre-injury form. If not, the Flyers are paying way too much money for a past-his-prime fourth-line center.

Give the Flyers credit. They climbed out of a 1-7 hole and played very good hockey for a majority of the season. Berube, in his first season as a head coach, did a terrific job getting the most out of his players. But it is clear the Flyers need a No. 1 defenseman, a sniper winger, and more speed.

A lot more speed.

But for all their shortcomings, the Flyers probably would have won the series had Mason been healthy enough to start the first three games. The Flyers lost two of them.

Mason suffered a concussion in the next-to-last game of the regular season. Late in the second period of that game, Pittsburgh's Jayson Megna knocked Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald into Mason. The goalie's head snapped back, and he fell backward and hit the ice.

Indirectly, it cost the Flyers a chance to face the Penguins in the second round.

Considering that the Flyers won four of five against Pittsburgh in the regular season, are 10-2-1 at the Consol Energy Center since it opened in 2010-11, and clearly are in the head of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, it would not have been outrageous to think they would have beaten the Penguins and reached the conference finals.

But the goalmouth crash - Megna was given a goalie interference penalty - altered the Flyers' playoff ride.

"Everybody feels lousy, obviously," Berube said of the Game 7 loss. "I'm proud of our players. They went through a lot this year. We were stuck in a hole for a while, and they battled out of it. We stuck together and went to a Game 7."

"We have a tight-knit group," Mason said, "and we're going to be better for it next year."

Especially if they add some missing pieces.


Inside the Flyers:

Flyers-Rangers: By the Numbers

Here are some numbers from the New York Rangers' four-games-to-three series win against the Flyers.

15-9 Rangers' advantage in even-strength goals during the series, excluding empty-netters.

4 Goals for the Rangers' Dan Carcillo in 57 games during the regular season.

2 Goals for Carcillo in three playoff games vs. the Flyers.

Minus-11 Combined plus-minus of Braydon Coburn (minus-6) and Vinny Lecavalier (minus-5) in the series.

4 Number of games in which the Rangers took a 2-0 lead. They won three of those games.

0 Goals by Scott Hartnell, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, and Michael Raffl.

6 for 21 Flyers on the power play, a 28.6 percent success rate.

3 for 29 Rangers on the power play, a 10.3 percent success rate.

51.6 Percentage of faceoffs won by the Flyers.

126-116 Rangers' edge in blocked shots.

- Sam Carchidi


scarchidi@phillynews.com

@BroadStBull

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