Sergei Bobrovsky, Andrej Meszaros, Andrej Sekera

A weak power play joins injuries and goaltending on Flyers’ list of concerns

Even though every game of the Buffalo Sabres-Philadelphia Flyers series has been decided by a goal* so far, there’s been a lot more hand-wringing on Philly’s side. Then again, there’s also been much more unrest. The Flyers are dealing with major injuries (Chris Pronger and Jeff Carter) and instability in net, as all three of their goalies appeared in this five-game series so far.

* Excluding one empty net goal, naturally.

While I think it’s important to reemphasize that razor-thin line between victory and defeat, the bottom line is that this team is on the brink of elimination with Buffalo up 3-2 in the series. Yet while people gravitate toward an issue that’s out of the team’s control (injuries) and one that is perennially unpredictable (goaltending), there is one correctable issue that could mean their doom.

The Flyers’ power play has been far from dangerous, which can be a fatal flaw in games that have been this tight.

As Jim Jackson discusses in his five thoughts for CSN Philly, the Flyers’ man advantage has been a major disadvantage. They haven’t scored a goal in their last 10 opportunities and only converted on two of 26 overall in the last five games. Playoff competition often brings even powerful groups down a few notches, but how can the Flyers expect to win when they’re only converting about eight percent of their chances?

Jackson points out just how often the Flyers end up with a loss when their power play is unproductive.

And if you want a barometer for the Flyers and their chances of winning, look no further than the power play. Including the playoffs, they are 8 for 133 with the man advantage in the 38 games they have lost this season. That’s a six percent success rate.

Not very surprisingly, Philadelphia is 0-for-13 in their three postseason losses and 2-for-13 (including a still-putrid 1 out of 10 in Game 2) in their two postseason wins. In their 49 wins combining the 2010-11 season with the playoffs, the Flyers PP scored 43 goals. That’s still not amazing – and honestly it never was, being that their power play only scored 49 goals this season, tying them with four other teams for 17th place – but it still reveals a startling contrast that makes a goal on the power play seem like a harbinger of success.

Of course, making the power play better is easier said than done. Much like the case of improving their goaltending, injuries stand in the way of some progress in this area. After all, Pronger’s defensive presence would make any of their three potential starting goalies look better.

The same can be said about Pronger’s hard slap shot from the point along with Carter’s elite finishing ability; those two factors would improve their man advantage as much as any change in strategy.

That being said, excuses – even reasonable ones – aren’t often welcome around this time of a year. The Flyers’ problems might bleed into each other, but finding a way on the power play might just stop the bleeding.

Power play success or failure might end up being the difference in this closely fought series.

Oshie’s hat trick lets Caps just barely squeak by Penguins in OT

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What a start.

This series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals might be headlined by Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, but as many have said in the lead-up to tonight’s opener, there is so much more to this second round matchup than that. Washington’s 4-3 overtime victory in Game 1 tonight could be offered up as Exhibit A.

This game had everything except big offensive showings from Crosby and Ovechkin. They had their moments, but in the end combined for just one assist.

What we got instead was a hat trick by T.J. Oshie that was completed with a game-winning goal that made it past the line by such a narrow margin that it warranted a video review:

This game also featured a sequence of three goals in 90 seconds and yet also some great saves by goaltenders Braden Holtby and Matt Murray. At the other end of the spectrum, there was a controversial hit by Tom Wilson that might lead to a suspension.

There was even some odd stuff. Like how Jay Beagle got a stick stuck in his equipment.

Twice:

If this game sets the tone for the rest of the series, then we should be in for a closely contested, highlight filled affair.

NOTES:

Nick Bonino had a goal and an assist for the Penguins. Evgeni Malkin and Ben Lovejoy accounted for the Penguins’ other markers.

— Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky scored the game’s opening goal. It was his first marker of the 2016 playoffs.

— Washington outshot Pittsburgh 15-9 in the first period, but Pittsburgh ended up with a 45-35 edge.

— This is the first time in the 2016 playoffs that Braden Holtby has allowed more than two goals. He surrendered just five goals in six games to Philadelphia.

— Matt Murray suffered his first career postseason loss after winning three straight contests against the New York Rangers.

Video: Wilson delivers late, knee-on-knee hit to Sheary

Wilson hit
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Tom Wilson has already found himself in a controversy for delivering a late, knee-on-knee hit to Penguins forward Conor Sheary in the third period of Game 1 Thursday night.

You can see that incident below:

Wilson spent two minutes in the sin bin earlier in the contest for crosschecking Evgeni Malkin, but there was no penalty on this play.

Fortunately Conor Sheary was able to stay in the game. The question now is if Wilson’s actions will lead to him being suspended prior to Game 2.

This isn’t Wilson’s first brush with controversy. He delivered a big hit to Brayden Schenn in 2013, but Wilson wasn’t suspended for that incident. Lubomir Visnovsky’s final campaign was cut short due to a check by Wilson that angered the New York Islanders. More recently, Nikita Zadorov was concussed by a crushing blow from the Capitals forward.

In 231 career regular season games, Wilson has 50 points and 486 penalty minutes.

Related: Wilson says ‘I’ve never been a dirty hitter’ after teams voice complaints

Video: Penguins, Caps combine for three goals in 90 seconds

Oshie goal
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For the first 30 minutes of Game 1 between Pittsburgh and Washington it looked like goaltenders Matt Murray and Braden Holtby might outshine these star-studded offenses. Then the floodgates opened up, if only for a moment.

Washington already had a 1-0 lead going into the second frame courtesy of Andre Burakovsky‘s first marker of the 2016 playoffs, but Ben Lovejoy and Evgeni Malkin scored back-to-back goals within the span of 57 seconds midway through the second period to tilt the scale in Pittsburgh’s favor. That lead didn’t last for long though as Capitals forward T.J. Oshie got a breakaway opportunity and took full advantage of it.

In total, there were three goals scored in the span of just 90 seconds and you can see all of them below:

After that sequence, the 2-2 tie held for the remainder of the frame. However, Oshie was able to reassert Washington’s edge just 3:23 minutes into the third period.

Video: Beagle gets stick stuck in visor

Beagle
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Through 40 minutes of action in Game 1 of the second round series between Pittsburgh and Washington and we’ve already seen some big moments, along with a pretty unusual one.

Beagle ended up with a stick lodged into his visor towards the end of the second frame. He tried to get it out himself, but ended up having to go to the bench for assistance. You can see that below: