A power play in hockey is a double-edged sword. It can be used to cut through to victory just as easily as it can sever a team’s momentum.
The Flyers power play hacked off any chance they had of getting to the conference finals with a performance that would have made even the most gruesome sadist nauseous.
“Special teams, especially in playoffs, can change a series,” said Sean Couturier after the Flyers were eliminated by the Islanders. “Their special teams were a lot better than ours. It wasn’t good enough and probably played a big factor throughout the series.”
The numbers look like how the inside of Gritty’s costume smells.
They were 0-for-13 against the Islanders with 11 shots on goal, which means they had multiple advantages where they couldn’t even get the puck to the net. They spent 24 minutes, 9 seconds on the advantage throughout the series and managed zilch on the scoreboard.
More problematic is that the Islanders used the impetus gained from a first-period kill to score two goals in the next five minutes. That allowed them to build a virtual fortress around goaltender Thomas Greiss.
“There’s a tremendous amount of disappointment in the result,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “There’s disappointment not in our will but in our game tonight. I don’t want to take anything away from the Islanders. But after those first six minutes, I don’t think we had the same pop in our game.”
The Flyers had four shots on goal in the first six minutes, five in the next 36. It’s the primary reason the Islanders went to Edmonton following Saturday night’s game, and the Flyers went through customs at Pearson International Airport.
The history books will show the Flyers scored four power-play goals in the previous series against the Canadiens. But it’ll take a deeper dive to remember that 0-for-16 drought they had against Montreal before breaking through with a couple funky goals by Jake Voracek in Game 5 of that series.
Bottom line: It wasn’t just the Islanders who stifled them.
A big problem for the Flyers series was an inability to crack the offensive zone with any momentum. The rushes up ice often were bogged down in the neutral zone, and pucks that were dumped in often stayed on the outside or headed right back out again.
They got about 20% more production out of their power play this regular season over last, going from 23rd in the league to 14th. But it was like a machete on a balloon when they needed it most.
“Our power play wasn’t there this series,” said Claude Giroux. “It could have gotten us a couple of big goals this series. But the power play didn’t get the job done.”
Islanders coach Barry Trotz opened his postgame press conference with a salute to Oskar Lindblom.
He called Lindblom an inspiration. “To me as a father, seeing a young man go through all that ... was tremendous.”
The Islanders saluted Lindblom early in Game 6 with stick taps – after a Flyers’ goal. Nice show of sportsmanship.