Philadelphia Flyers @ New York Rangers, Game 5, 12:00pm, NBC
After a solid goaltending performance from Steve Mason on Friday night, the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Rangers enter today's contest tied 2-2 in the series. Just like they did in New York, the Flyers and the Blueshirts split the games in Philadelphia. With the Orange and Black already winning a game at Madison Square Garden this series, is it too much to ask for the Flyers to win back-to-back games at MSG after losing nine straight in New York?
If there was a "goaltender controversy" for Philly earlier in the series, there should be no question the man in the crease will be Mason, as he stole Game 4 for the Flyers. In his first start of the series, Mason needed just goals from Matt Read and Jakub Voracek for a 37-save victory. After keeping it a 1-1 game after the first 20 minutes with a 15-save period, Mason made several incredible stops and prevented several rebound and second-chance opportunities from the Rangers to outplay Henrik Lundqvist for the home win.
Along with Mason's unbelievable performance, the Flyers' special teams came through in the win. On top of preventing New York from scoring on any of their four man-advantage opportunities, the Orange and Black provided the game-winning goal on a beautiful play from Brayden Schenn and Voracek on one of their two power-play chances. Due to their poor play at five-on-five, the Flyers need to capitalize on special teams' chances and keep their head above water at five-on-five for a chance to win. In the Flyers two wins in the series, they are 3-for-5 on the power play and 9-for-10 on the penalty kill. In their two losses, the Flyers are 0-for-6 on the power play and 8-for-10 on the penalty kill. As for even-strength play, the Flyers have outscored New York 3-2 in their two wins in this series and have been outscored 6-2 in their two losses.
The Flyers' defense, who should be expected to do more today to help out Mason, did help the Orange and Black hang on for the win on Friday despite working a five-man unit for most of the game. Thanks to a Nicklas Grossmann injury, it looks as though Hal Gill will be in the lineup today for Philly. Today will be Gill's first playoff game with the Flyers, as it is his third game in the month of April and his seventh game of the season. Today will also be Gill's first playoff game since he was with the Nashville Predators during the 2012 NHL playoffs.
As for the rest of the defense, Braydon Coburn had a strong game on Friday working against Rick Nash and New York's top line, while Mark Streit continues to look great, as he had the secondary assist on Voracek's game-winner on Friday. As for Andrew MacDonald, he looked to have a rough night, as he had two bad moments on Dominic Moore's goal in the victory. The defense may have done just enough to help Mason pull off the steal in Game 4, but if the Flyers are to win another one at MSG in this series the defense will need to help out their goaltender a little more by clearing away rebounds, preventing long cycling sessions in Philly's defensive end, and preventing long stretch passes in the neutral zone from connecting.
The offense provided a similar effort in the win, as the top line, despite not producing a goal, had the best pressure and puck possession, while the third line was able to help shut down New York's offense and chipped in the team's lone even-strength goal as well. The second line, unfortunately, continues to be a weak point for Philadelphia. With that being said, both the younger Schenn and Wayne Simmonds had an impact in the game despite not doing much offensively as a line at five-on-five. Schenn provided the beautiful slap-pass assist on Voracek's winner and also set up Vincent Lecavalier for a breakaway in the third period with a nice multi-line stretch pass. Simmonds made his presence felt with a few big hits and some time on the power play. If the trio of Brayden, Simmonds, and Lecavalier can put it together at even strength and provide a timely goal today, or at some point in the series, that could go a long way in the Flyers advancing to the second round.
For the Rangers, they honestly don't need to change anything they're doing five-on-five and Lundqvist shouldn't worry about the loss, as both of the goals he allowed weren't necessarily poor goals against. One point of concern for the Blueshirts may be the power play. With the change in Philly's net from Ray Emery to Mason, the Rangers no longer have the easy option of nailing a cross-ice pass and beating Emery before the netminder would fail in an attempt to successfully move laterally. The Rangers failed to move the puck cleanly with the man advantage in the Game 4 loss, as head coach Alain Vigneault commented on the power play after the defeat.
After today's game, the clubs will head back to Philadelphia and take part in Game 6 on Tuesday night.
Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek
Brayden Schenn - Vincent Lecavalier - Wayne Simmonds
Matt Read - Sean Couturier - Jason Akeson
Zac Rinaldo - Michael Raffl - Adam Hall
Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn
Mark Streit - Hal Gill
Andrew MacDonald - Luke Schenn
New York Rangers
Rick Nash - Derek Stepan - Martin St. Louis
Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Daniel Carcillo
Benoit Pouliot - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello
Brian Boyle - Dominic Moore - Derek Dorsett
Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Anton Stralman - Marc Staal
John Moore - Kevin Klein
Jakub Voracek - 3 points (2 goals and 1 assist)
Mark Streit - 2 points (1 goal and 1 assist)
Jason Akeson - 2 points (1 goal and 1 assist)
Matt Read - 2 points (1 goal and 1 assist)
Scott Hartnell - 2 points (2 assists)
Claude Giroux - 2 points (2 assists)
Brayden Schenn - 2 points (2 assists)
Andrew MacDonald - 1 point (1 goal)
Luke Schenn - 1 point (1 goal)
Wayne Simmonds - 1 point (1 goal)
Michael Raffl - 1 point (1 assist)
Vincent Lecavalier - 1 point (1 assist)
Braydon Coburn - 1 point (1 assist)
Adam Hall - 1 point (1 assist)
New York Rangers
Martin St. Louis - 5 points (2 goals and 3 assists)
Brad Richards - 4 points (1 goal and 3 assists)
Rick Nash - 4 points (4 assists)
Derek Stepan - 3 points (2 goals and 1 assist)
Benoit Pouliot - 2 points (1 goal and 1 assist)
Dan Girardi - 2 points (1 goal and 1 assist)
Carl Hagelin - 2 points (1 goal and 1 assist)
Mats Zuccarello - 2 points (1 goal and 1 assist)
Brian Boyle - 2 points (2 assists)
Dominic Moore - 1 point (1 goal)
Daniel Carcillo - 1 point (1 goal)
Marc Staal - 1 point (1 assist)
Derick Brassard - 1 point (1 assist)
Jesper Fast - 1 point (1 assist)