Through two periods in the Game 7 that will decide who will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it has been a tale of two different goaltenders: one who is leading his team with timely stops, the other who is being let down by his defense.
Henrik Lundquist of the New York Rangers has been sensational, stopping all of the 16 shots he has faced and his offense has made the most of their chances. The Rangers defense in front of him has played strong as well, blocking 17 shots and made sure to clean up any rebounds that have gotten through to the New York net.
Steve Mason of the Philadelphia Flyers has also been good, but he is the only reason the Flyers are still in this game. The Flyers’ netminder has saved 26 of the 28 shots that have come his way, but the Rangers have also been able to walk into the Flyers zone uncontested and have moved the puck well around a Philadelphia defense that seems content to watch the action in front of them.
Both Rangers goals scored in the period came with the Flyers’ either being out of position or letting the Rangers rush the net uncontested, leaving their goaltender out to dry, as seen in these GIFs produced by @myregularface:
The Flyers offense, which actually led in shots 11-10 after the first period, has also fallen asleep, unable to get any fluid rhythm going in the Rangers’ zone, despite being given two power plays in the period to the Rangers’ zero. New York outshot Philadelphia 18-5 in the second period.
Flyers’ coach Craig Berube face after the second New York goal in the second period summed up exactly how he felt about his team’s play so far, displayed in another GIF courtesy of @myregularface:
The Flyers will need to do something drastic in the intermission to get their mindset back into this game in the final 20 minutes if they hope to extend their season past tonight’s winner-take-all with the Rangers.