Photo credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Let’s start off with a positive– the only one from Game 1.
first goal was a thing of beauty and it was exactly how Craig Berube drew it up. Here’s what Frank Seravalli wrote in the Dailly News yesterday, describing Chief’s intended ritual. I’ve accompanied the quote with screenshots:
In one word, Berube described the style he wants Claude Giroux, Voracek and Scott Hartnell to play against McDonagh as “unfulfilling.” Unless they have a clear break to carry it in the offensive zone, Berube has instructed his players to dump the puck in New York’s end…
particularly in McDonagh’s direction…
to see whether they can pin the should-be Norris Trophy candidate behind his net…
and create scoring opportunities that way.
Beautiful, Craig. Now, about the rest of the game.
I know we all want to Akes Jason a question. Why, rookie, did you two-hand Carl Hagelin in the face and take a four-minute double-minor that effectively cost your team the game? But as much as we’d like to blame Jason Akeson for that play, we can’t. I’ve watched it 20 times now and there’s just no way you can really find fault with what he did. He was actually back-checking really well on the play. He caught up to Hagelin in the neutral zone and tried to remove him from the puck. It didn’t work. Too much intensity, too little size. But Akeson played a good game. Though I don’t think he played as well as everyone – on the broadcast, post-game show and Twitter – was giving him credit for. He stood out because we were paying attention and because he looked like he belonged. Good for him, but you should look like you belong in a playoff game. It’s maddening that the Flyers went out and acquired Steve Downie during the season to add some firepower and then scratched him in a playoff game in favor of a guy who had never been to New York. That’s right, this was Akeson’s first time in New York City. “Skyscraper after skyscraper,” he told reporters. Golly gee. He automatically flunks one of my character tests: never trust an adult who’s never been to New York. It’s… weird. Especially for a professional athlete. Sometimes you just have to go to New York by accident. Sometimes you have a connecting flight in Newark and take the train over for a few hours. Sometimes you’re Kevin McAllister and your family is in Florida and you’re in New York. Shit happens. But it’s weird that you’ve never been to Manhattan, Jason.
Now he’s playing in a playoff game at Madison Square Garden. What could go wrong? Well, he could let emotions get the best of him and lose control. It’s… exactly the sort of thing you worry about when a guy is playing in his first meaningful game ever. And that’s what happened. It’s not Akeson’s fault– he played fine. But why, if you think you might use a guy on the power play in the playoffs, wouldn’t you give him more burn during the season? Why didn’t you take him to New York and show him Times Square? It doesn’t make much sense.
As for the rest of the game: The Flyers were fine up until the penalty. They were getting outplayed by the Rangers, but, like Berube wanted, they were being patient. The Rangers’ shots were coming mostly from the outside. The Flyers had chances, too. It was a winnable game. They could’ve stolen Game 1. But it was over once the Rangers took the lead. The Flyers completely fell apart. Not a great effort overall, but a horrible third period. They have to win on Sunday.