The Flyers’ top line has produced one point, total, among its three players in two round-robin games, and normally that would be cause for concern in the postseason.
But the second line has picked up the scoring slack, and the top unit -- Sean Couturier centering Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek -- has contributed greatly by helping shut down the explosive lines used by Boston and Washington.
In the Flyers’ 3-1 win over the Capitals on Thursday, Washington’s top line of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Tom Wilson was blanked and managed a total of four shots on goal, with Couturier’s line doing great work against them. Ovechkin fired nine shots but had only two on goal.
The Flyers used all four lines against Ovechkin and Co., and Nate Thompson’s unit also did an outstanding job against the Great 8 and his linemates.
The Flyers are now 4-0-1 against the Caps including the regular season, and Ovechkin, a future Hall of Famer who shared the NHL lead with 48 goals this season, has zero points and a minus-5 rating in those five games.
“He’s one of the best goal scorer to ever play the game,” Flyers center Kevin Hayes said, mindful that Ovechkin has been the NHL’s leading goal scorer nine times in his career.
“You’ve got to know when he’s on the ice. It’s a major key for our team. Know when 8′s on the ice. Everyone plays the right way when they see him up over the boards. He probably gets that from every team. But I feel like on the power play, we’re kind of keying on him and making them make other plays.”
Couturier acknowledged his line is not generating a lot of offense. “At the same time, we’re responsible defensively, We’re not giving up a whole lot.”
In their first round-robin win, a 4-1 victory over Boston, Couturier’s line shut down Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak, a unit that combined for 107 goals in the season.
Brian Elliott wasn’t tested much, but he made some important saves and was sharp in his first start in 155 days. Elliott stopped 16 of 17 shots and notched the 17th postseason victory of his career.
The Flyers used four rookies -- Phil Myers (plus-2), Joel Farabee (two shots, two takeaways, minus-1), Nic Aube-Kubnel (five hits, three shot attempts, minus-1), and Connor Bunnaman (even, drew a penalty and committed one) and they all made some nice contributions in the win.