Flyers Vs. Devils ECSF, Game 3: Mental Mistakes Cost Flyers Series Lead in 4-3 OT Loss
It was a game of missed opportunities. After capitalizing early, the Philadelphia Flyers blew too many opportunities, too frequently and too consistently. That’s the main reason the Flyers left Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the New Jersey Devils on the lesser end of a 4-3 overtime final.
The Devils now lead the best of seven series, 2-1.
After playing the role of underdog in the Quarterfinals against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the tables have shifted on the Flyers as the Devils have grabbed hold of that same mindset and run with it.
Philadelphia opened the scoring just like they did in Game 2.
Six minutes into the first period, Brayden Schenn gave the Flyers the lead with a power play goal. Shortly after, Patrick Elias evened the game at one with a power play goal of his own. Immediately after the goal, Ilya Kovalchuk gave the Devils the lead with a rifled shot on the back of a defensive breakdown.
In general, the Flyers played into the Devils hands in the first period and allowed the team to establish defensive sets and forced the Flyers to try to move pucks into closed passing lanes.
In the second, the Flyers regained their stride.
While things didn’t come easy, the team found success moving the puck. This was most evident when Jakub Voracek moved the puck behind the Devils’ net and sent a pass to Matt Carle who blasted a shot from the point to tie the game at two.
In the third, both teams found the back of the net. Zach Parise powered the Devils’ to the lead prior to Danny Briere tying the game at three, four minutes later.
From there, the fans were treated to a period of free hockey.
Despite all of the Flyers’ miscues in the previous 60-minutes, the most frustrating portions of the game came in the overtime period.
With two separate power plays, Philadelphia had the chances to end the game. They were practically spoon fed to them. However, just like in previous games in this series, the team failed to do anything on the power play. Even when one of the Devils’ players lost his stick, the Flyers made terrible decisions with the puck that resulted in failed zonetime.
Ultimately, they failed to step on New Jersey’s throat when they had the chance and it cost them. No matter when the game is taking place, whether it’s in October or May, teams only get so many chances.
Five minutes after Philadelphia’s final power play, Alexei Ponikarovsky ended the game on the back of a poor line change by the Flyers.
Since the start of the Semifinals, the Flyers have committed mental breakdowns that have allowed New Jersey to stay in games. This has also allowed the Devils to dictate the style of play, which has created problems for the Flyers when trying to establish offense.
It’s not a case of the Devils’ being a more talented team; it’s a case of the Flyers being a dumber one.
While things may appear bleak, it’s important to account for the fact that Philadelphia should have never gotten to overtime in Game 3. Despite this, the team battled back twice and was a bounce away from taking the series lead. Instead that bounce went the Devils’ way.
New Jersey has plenty of flaws that the Flyers can capitalize upon. Unfortunately, they haven’t been doing that…yet. If the Flyers can start making better decisions, they will find success in this series. If they don’t they’ll be playing golf this time next week.
At the end of the day, playoff series can turn on a dime. Until one team wins four games, the season isn’t over. Don’t cash in your chips yet, folks.
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