Flyers Vs. Penguins ECQF, Game 3: Momentum on Flyers' Side
Heading into the third game of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, the Philadelphia Flyers have momentum on their side. Despite trailing the Pittsburgh Penguins by two goals or more in the first two games, the resilient group battled back in both and have taken a 2-0 series lead.
On Sunday, the two teams will meet for Game 3. The Flyers have already established their dominance over the Penguins, and have done so in dramatic fashion. They will be looking to make it three wins in a row, while the Penguins will hope to find their footing and earn their first victory of the series.
The Flyers had a 2-1 record against the Penguins at home and a 22-13-6 record overall in the Wells Fargo Center during the regular season, while Pittsburgh had a 22-15-4 road record.
Pittsburgh was the 2nd highest-scoring team on the road this season with 127 goals, while the Flyers were the 3rd highest-scoring home team with 139.
While the Flyers played better on the road than at home this season, home ice provides them with the advantage of last change. Now they will be able to create the matchups they want – like putting Sean Couturier against Evgeni Malkin, which has proven very successful in the first two games.
One thing that the Flyers greatly struggled with this season was afternoon games. For reasons unknown, they almost always came out sluggish and sloppy, and won only three of ten afternoon contests.
Sunday’s game is scheduled for 3PM, so the Flyers will need to buckle down and solve the issues that prevented them from playing well in day games during the regular season.
As the first two games of the playoffs have proven, the Flyers are in no way lacking offense. They scored twelve goals altogether, seven of which went unanswered.
And despite his numbers on the scoresheet, Flyers netminder Ilya Bryzgalov (33-16-7) also performed well in those first two games. Despite giving up early goals and dealing with turnovers and defensive breakdowns, he managed to stand strong and limit the damage.
Bryzgalov had two wins and one no-decision at home against the Penguins this season. He’s 19-8-4 at the Wells Fargo Center with a 2.44 GAA and a .909 save percentage.
He had a 10-2-1 record at home in the month of March, a stretch during which he broke the Flyers’ record for longest shutout streak. Imagine if he found that shutdown game once back on home ice.
Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury (42-17-4) recorded a dismal 1-3-1 record against Philadelphia. He currently holds a .804 save percentage and a 5.45 GAA in the quarterfinals.
Despite the Flyers holding a series lead, anything can happen and this is still anyone’s series. The Flyers cannot take even a tiny step back right now. They need to keep the momentum going and continue to overpower Pittsburgh however they can.
But what will it take for the Flyers to perform well? As we’ve seen in the first two games, they seem to play better when they’re facing a deficit. So maybe a quick start isn’t what they should be looking for.
However, coming from behind game after game will eventually wear the team down and tire them out. It is important for them to play a full 60 minutes and never take their feet off the gas.
They’ve already proven that they can win playoff games in big ways against a tough opponent. Now, they just need to continue that trend as they work their way towards a possible first-round win.