Image via The Philadelphia Inquirer, Frank Guinn AP
The Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Montreal Canadiens in game 4 for a demanding 3-1 series lead. The 2-0 demoralizing shutout loss for Montreal is another reason why the Canadiens need more pure goal scorers. Montreal finished third during the regular season in expected goals for per 60 in even-strength play.
The Canadiens are a very strong team at generating offense, but the lack of shooting talent makes it less valuable. Not to downplay how good Carter Hart has been between the pipes, but the lack of shooting talent has been evident. It has become problematic as exemplified in two straight shutout losses without converting on their surplus of scoring chances.
Carter Hart, who is already among the best in the league, is continuing to prove he is the Flyers, franchise goaltender. The pair of wins for Hart has landed him as the second-youngest goaltender in NHL history to record back to back shutouts in the playoffs. Likewise, he already became the youngest goaltender in franchise history for the Flyers to notch a shutout in the playoffs.
Reviewing Game Four Win
It didn’t take long for the Flyers to beat Carey Price. Michael Raffl opened up the scoring just over six minutes into the contest. It all started with a strong zone entry that led to Sean Couturier dropping it back to Raffl at the right circle. Raffl made no mistake and shot it just under the bar far side over Price’s blocker.
The game-winning goal came off 23-year-old defenseman Phillippe Myers stick. It was a shot from the boards just near the right circle that fooled Carey Price. It was a bad bounce that Price should have stopped. There is no doubt that he wants that one back.
The Canadiens had a higher rate of expected goals in game four but were unable to capitalize. It has been the over-arching storyline thus far in the series. Aside from game two, their lone goal came from Shea Weber in game one. They battled hard and generated offense but were unable to get one past Hart.
Hart had another phenomenal game in which he saved 1.68 goals above expected according to Evolving Hockey. Hart also made 29 saves in the shutout victory.
The biggest difference in this game was the dominance in the faceoff circle. The Flyers won nearly 66 percent of the draws.
Looking Ahead To Game 5
The Flyers have a chance to burst the Canadiens bubble on Wednesday and send them home. A win Wednesday night will give the Flyers an additional two weeks in the bubble and one step closer to winning the Stanley Cup.
Although they have not necessarily played like a number one seed, the Flyers have still found ways to win with Carter Hart leading the way. He has been the difference-maker in this low scoring, goalie centric series.
The Flyers need to find a way to produce more efficiently 5 on 5 because they have been fortunate to win these low scoring games. It won’t be easy to finish this Canadiens club whose pinnacle is worth ethic.
Only five goals have found its way past Price thus far, two coming off the stick of Jakub Vorachek. Joel Farabee, Michael Raffl and Phillippe Myers with the others. That is why the Flyers depth is so crucial on their road to the cup.
Flyers will face the Canadiens Wednesday night for the win or go home game 5 battle for Montreal.
Data via Evolving-Hockey
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