Taking The Wayne Train to Broadway: Flyers Force Game 7
The Flyers are on their way to a Game 7 with the Rangers in New York.
Wayne Simmonds, who led the Flyers with 29 goals during the regular season, lit the Rangers up for a hat trick in Tuesday's 5-2 win in Game 6. It was his first career playoff hat trick and the first Flyers playoff hat trick since Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier did it against the Penguins in 2012.
Simmonds, who had one goal this series, picked up the intensity in Game 6. It was pretty obvious why.
"It's do or die," he said. "We win or we go home.
"I think everyone in the dressing room did a good job getting prepared for the game and we're not ready to go home yet. We want to move on to the second round and I thought we played a good game tonight we just have to carry over the momentum tilltomorrow night."
The Flyers could have been counted out heading into Game 6. For the second straight time in Game 5, they gave the momentum earned right back to the Rangers.
The defense looked bad, Steve Mason looked bad, and worst of all, the Flyers couldn't score in a 4-2 loss. Through five games, the Flyers could not seem to figure out what to do against a Rangers team that has had the Flyers' number for the last three years.
Then something clicked. Mason was his usual sturdy self in net and the offense figured out how to get around the Rangers blocking shots and Henrik Lundqvist doing what elite goaltenders do.
Perhaps it was the Flyers playing their best hockey with their backs against the wall. It was something they excelled in this season, especially with third period comebacks all season.
"It was just more of an aggressive mindset, and that brings it out," Craig Berube said. "Our guys, they’re passionate. They want to win.
"They brought a little bit more tonight, aggressiveness, tenacity in the battles, staying in the battles, fighting for loose pucks blocking shots, that was all there and you need that in the playoffs.”
The Flyers dressed Erik Gustafsson in place of Hal Gill, who was not impressive in Game 5. Gustafsson scored a goal, and logged the fourth most ice time with 18 minutes, 19 seconds (more than Kimmo Timonen and Mark Streit).
"I thought that he moved the puck well, he skated well, he was heads up all game" Berube said. "Checked well; he did a good job.”
Gustafsson will likely be in the lineup again tonight in Game 7.