Flyers Say They Need More Of A Net Presence

28 Nov

There’s no two ways about it; Henrik Lundqvist is one of the league’s best goalies and he certainly played well enough on Saturday to earn his second shutout of the year, fourth against the Flyers in his career. But the orange and black felt as though they made his job a little easier.

“We didn’t get to the front of the net and we allowed Lundqvist to see a lot of the pucks,” said Wayne Simmonds after Saturday’s contest. “He’s a good goalie. He’s going to make the first stop. We gotta get in front and create traffic and I think that was our downfall.”

When the Flyers are at their best, they’re giving the opposing goalie fits. They’re screening him and deflecting shots in front of him. They’re making his job more difficult and frustrating him to the point where he’s out of his element. On Saturday, it wasn’t so hard for Lundqvist.

“It felt like we were one [shot] and done all night long,” said Danny Briere. “We had lots of shots from the outside. We never got in on rebounds, get in on loose pucks. I think all the forwards were responsible for that. It wasn’t the way that we wanted it to be.”

The Flyers have the pieces to make life difficult for the opposition, but some of their big bodies weren’t able to get proper positioning. It would have been really hard for James van Riemsdyk to have an effect; he was out injured. Simmonds’ left eye was swelling for most of the game after taking a punch in a fight with Brandon Prust. Scott Hartnell’s line with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek was never able to properly set up in the New York end. Whatever the reason, the Flyers couldn’t park it in front of Lundqvist and had shots blocked by Rangers defense rather than deflecting them behind the Rangers goalie.

“When a goalie of that caliber is on, he’s on and it’s tough to get pucks through him,” said Hartnell. “It seemed like they blocked a lot of shots. Even if we tried to hit their shin pads, I don’t think they’d have a better blocking percentage [on Saturday].

“It just seemed like the shots from the point weren’t coming through. The shots from the wing, a lot of them went into the netting [above the glass], things like that. I’m not sure of our attempts and the ones that they blocked, but it seemed like a lot from the bench anyway.”

Indeed, the Rangers blocked 12 shots while the Flyers fired 29 on net. Fourteen of those shots came in the third period, at which point the Flyers were already down a goal to start the period. The Rangers aren’t particularly known for blocking shots. After Saturday’s contest they have blocked 316 all season, good enough for 16th place in the league.

The Flyers’ next opponent, the Anaheim Ducks, is 14th in the league with 320 blocked shots. Working on that net presence is one of the things the Flyers will want to improve on in the three days of practice they have leading up to their next game on Friday.

The Ducks allow 3.17 goals per game, but if goalie Jonas Hiller sees the shots clearly, he will probably make more saves and send that average down.

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