PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 14: Referee Kelly Sutherland #11 climbs on the back of the net to get a better view of the play between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Buffalo Sabres in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center on April 14, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The Flyers only need to make minor adjustments in their first round series.
After constantly being told that teams can't just "flip a switch", turns out... the Flyers can. No, they didn't win. They didn't even score a goal in their opening game against the Sabres. But through two periods of play, CSNPhilly had the Flyers out-chancing the Sabres 15 to 5. If accurate (wait for Broad Street Hockey to post their scoring chance data soon), that would certain suggest the Flyers found a switch.
Even if that differential tightens a bit, the Flyers attempted 74 shots on Ryan Miller, while only giving up 36 Sabres attempts. That's a solid two-to-one ratio in shots attempted, which would normally mean success on the scoreboard. The difference came from the Sabres blocking 16 of those shots while the Flyers missed 23 of them.
Going up against Ryan Miller, the Flyers are going to need to make a few minor adjustments.Nothing major though, since they played well enough to win.
"I think we threw a lot of pucks at the net and generated a lot of shots and opportunities," defenseman Matt Carle said. "We know how hard it's going to be to beat Miller. I think we just need to have more of the same, maybe just a little more intense on rebounds and stuff, but he's a good goalie and tough to beat. He showed that tonight."
Even in a game where they attempted 74 shots, two minor tweaks that need to be made revolve around shooting more. First, they have to get more of their attempted shots on net. Miller is just too good - and the Sabres too good defensively - to not put the puck on net. More shots on target, the more second opportunities you create. With the Sabres collapsing around their goalie so effectively, those scrambles in the crease need to result in a goal or a save.
Secondly, the Flyers power play needs to continue improving. Yes, it has been terrible this year. But in Game 1, the Flyers power play was quite effective. Getting 11 shots in a little more than nine minutes isn't bad, but it's not great. When the first unit would fire anything and everything on net, the second unit would keep the puck on the perimeter. Early in the game, the Flyers were moving the puck more than carrying it, creating space and lanes. Then, it stopped.
The great news is that Flyers' Captain Mike Richards realizes the team just needs to make minor adjustments. "We created a lot, we didn't give up much, and we were pretty tight defensively," Richards said. "We just have to find those pucks. I think four or five times tonight I missed some tips. Pucks were just missing the net and we have to find that."
In Game 1, the Flyers played well. They dominated large chunks of the game, generating chances throughout, but were unable to beat Miller. If they play as well as they did for the rest of the series, the team is in good shape going forward. But if they are able to turn half of those missed shots into shots on goal while moving the puck more effectively on the power play, the Flyers should advance to the second round.