Through four games, the Philadelphia Flyers now have a two-game cushion in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. After a few personnel changes, Alain Vigneault found the right combinations to score multiple goals against Carey Price for the second time this series. The first line was busy early on, making their contributions to the playoffs once again. In a very defensive game, the Flyers were multi-dimensional. Michael Raffl, Philippe Myers, and Carter Hart were the three stars in game four.
Shuffling the lineup favored the Philadelphia Flyers in game four. Alain Vigneault found a way to spread the veterans through his lines. Michael Raffl was featured in the first group with Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek. Just over six minutes into the first period, Couturier dropped the puck off to Raffl, scoring stick side on Carey Price. The Flyers took an early one-goal lead.
The Montreal Canadiens put more pressure on Carter Hart in the second period. Another shot on goal was saved by the post, which has been an ongoing trend for the Canadiens. A little bit past seventeen minutes in the third period, Travis Konecny guided a pass to Philippe Myers. Myers put a shot on the net that snuck by Carey Price to put the Philadelphia Flyers up two goals. Hart was able to get enough of a puck earlier on to ricochet it off the post, but Price was not as lucky.
All the Philadelphia Flyers had to do was hold the Montreal Canadiens to a goal. Carter Hart was able to replicate his performance from game three, serving another shutout. While the Flyers powerplay was still unsuccessful, every other aspect of hockey worked to perfection. There was a scary moment in the final period that included Robert Hagg taking a puck to the back of his helmet from Shea Weber, but he appeared to be okay. The final score in game four favored Philadelphia, 2-0.
“Carter” Is A Synonym for “Shutout”
Understandably, the Philadelphia Flyers are tough to beat in back-to-back games. That much was proven during the 2019-2020 regular season. After a blowout loss in game two, Carter Hart showed his poise as a young goaltender. At the end of game three, Hart became the youngest goaltender in Flyers’ history to record a postseason shutout. Following game four, Hart is the second-youngest goaltender in NHL playoff history to notch back-to-back shutouts.
First Line Variables
In all but one game this series, the Philadelphia Flyers first line has produced immensely. Alain Vigneault may throw different variants of that same line, but two of the three original members are still there. During game one, Jakub Voracek and Joel Farabee accounted for a powerplay goal and game-winner. Game three, Voracek struck again for the game-winner. Today, Vigneault placed Raffl on the first line with Voracek and Couturier.
Once again, the game-winning goal was courtesy of the first line. It is easy to count goals and claim that Sean Couturier has not shown up. The same can be said for Claude Giroux. At the same moment, what should be noticed is that those two players both registered assists in game-defining moments. Michael Raffl placed an incredible shot over the stick side of Carey Price.
Robert Hagg has provided such a boost to the Philadelphia Flyers lineup. When Hagg is in on the third pairing this series, the Flyers are undefeated and unable to be scored on. He plays a tight defense that Shayne Gostisbehere could not. In many ways, Hagg opens up combinations for Alain Vigneault. The next project for Vigneault is just finding a boost for the Philadelphia powerplay.
Photo Credit: Alex Mcintyre