After coming up short in the first two games on the road, the Philadelphia Flyers evened the series at home, beating the Chicago Blackhawks 5-3 in Game Four.
In three (arguably four) tightly contested games between two storied franchises, Philly has been able to play better overall, as witnessed in Game Four.
Every team has five components: offense, defense, goaltending, special teams, and coaching. Here is how the Flyers stacked up after their Game Four victory.
Philly has been winning in the offensive zone by doing what wins championships: play simple, play smart, dump and chase, and make the easy pass.
Case in point for this was the open net goal by Claude Giroux. The puck was brought in, a safe pass was made to the blue line, and an open Giroux slipped past the Hawks "D" for an open shot.
Add in their ability to pressure, and the offense has been keeping Chicago on the run.
Game Four Grade: A
The Philly "D" has been blocking shots and giving goaltender Michael Leighton open looks at shots. That makes everyone comfortable in their zone.
The Flyers had 28 blocks compared to 34 shots on net given up. Imagine the score if roughly five to 10 shots were not blocked. This could have been a different game, especially with the way the Hawks turned it on in the third period.
Game Five hinges on the defense for Philadelphia. The UC will be rockin', just like the Wachovia Center was.
Game Four Grade: B/B+
Michael Leighton played well, and had the help of his defensemen (as stated in the previous slide). When the save had to be made, it was.
After the five-on-three goal for Chicago, Leighton made some nice saves to reestablish himself.
Game Four Grade: B-this would be an "A" if the heat was put on the entire game. Again, he played well.
For the first time in this series, the Flyers were held in check on the power play, going 1-for-6. That is "held in check," considering they were 4-for-10 going into Game Four.
The penalty kill unit's pressure was what held the Hawks to one power-play goal. What is even more impressive is that the only goal was on a five-on-three. It was also the goal that kick-started Chicago in the third.
Game Four Grade: B—On the PP, there was a lot of good looks, so going 1-for-6 was not for nothing.
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette has kept his team in the right frame of mind after being heavy underdogs from the start of coverage of the Stanley Cup Finals.
His matchups have worked in his favor, and his demeanor is one of the best. He has won a Cup for a reason.
His big decision(s) may come if Chicago switches their lines for Game Five. In Game Four, there were some changes, and Philly skated by with a simplified game. If that happens again in Chicago, it could be a long day. Look to see what Laviolette does.
Game Four Grade: B+/A-
It's a best-of-three, and should be a thrilling Game Five. Again, the key for Philly is the defensive play on the road. If it falters, it could be an elimination game for the Flyers at home in Game Six.