Gameday – Quarterfinal Round #2 – Flyers

Home game.

This game isn’t must win for the Pens, but it’s close.

First Period:

Fifteen seconds, Sid, incredible. Ties the team record for the quickest goal in the playoffs, also moved him into a tie for fourth with Ron Francis for goals in the postseason. Nice.

Pens are hustling. Beautiful shift by the fourth line, Adams dumped it in, chased it down, and then they just held it for like 45 seconds, nice. This is absolutely textbook for what you need to do against the Flyers.

First PP chance: the Pens have gone back to the unit from the majority of the season, Kunitz-Malkin-Neal up front, Sullivan and Letang on the points. Kunitz hustling in front of the net, goal city. Let’s not mince words, it was a thing of beauty, and it worked because of the connection between those five guys. Root Sports showed Sid on the bench, he looked like a proud papa, beautiful.

Before you know it, Pens are right back on the PP, Nick Grossman getting picked on a little bit. Not quite as good, but it happens. Letang had an incredible opportunity, Bryzgalov pulled it back from halfway across the line. Then things got really weird, Letang was talking to the ref about the shot, Matt Read came over and laid his stick into Letang. Letang went down, probably because he was totally caught off guard. The linesman called a dive on Letang from the other side of the ice. Should have been a two man advantage for the Pens, ended up even, awesome.

From there the Flyers just went all out to score short-handed. They did. Talbot. Really impressed that he could get back that quick with all that money weighing him down.

Less than a minute, the Pens are buzzing. Sid breaks out. Little saucer, drop pass, ends up on Paul Martin’s stick. Held it perfectly, little screen by Jordan Staal. Goal. Great bounce back for Martin who didn’t have a good game on Wednesday.

Some really insane hits in this period, some were definitely a bit border-line. Have to draw attention to Letang’s insane hip-check on Zac Rinaldo. That really put his panties in a bunch. Next shift he tried to step on Malkin after he had been knocked over. Really should have been a major penalty, maybe I’m just biased, but if you’re looking for a “hit with the intent to injure” please look at that play. After attempting to step on Malkin he went over and hit Kunitz with his stick up at head level. Neither were called. I don’t want to whine about every missed call, and I understand full well that we got lucky on the first PP opportunity, Grossman took the penalty for retaliating on a pretty bad trip by Malkin, but Rinaldo is dangerous.

Second Period:

Alright, I take back what I said about RInaldo, his goony-ness has made him such a liability to the Flyers that I hope he plays every game. Really bad hooking call against him on Engelland. Pens weren’t able to capitalize on the PP but this is was beautifully executed. The Pens dominated with the top unit, then they got to send out a unit with Sid-Staal-Cooke up front and Martin and Sully on the points for the second half, it just worked.

Unfortunately, right after that, Crosby sort of got forced into interfering with Grossman after some miscommunication with Cooke. Flyers’ power play is really good. Giroux, don’t know what else to say.

Talbot had a breakaway. This time he got tired halfway there. Must have cashed in a performance bonus.

Schenn took a really ill-advised penalty, cross-check to the back of Crosby. Started really bad, somehow the Flyers come out of their zone short-handed on a 3-on-2. Giroux again. Tied again. Butt-clench time. Didn’t last long, 6 seconds later, Malkin wins the face-off going forward. Dishes to Neal, good shot, totally pulls Bryzgalov out of position, open cage for Kunitz. Incredible resiliency. Remember this play.

Letang had to make a play to prevent a rush, batted the puck out of the air in his own zone, didn’t catch any glass. Right back to butt-clench. No worries. Killed. Penguins finally looking like they have a plan for the Flyer’s PP.

End of the period, bad news. 2.8 seconds left, Pens couldn’t get a clear. Courturier sends one home. Period could of gone worse, but we also got outscored 3-1 and pretty much got torn apart on special teams. Third period is going to define everything.

Third Period:

Biggest period of hockey the Pens have played this year.

Great start, about one minute into the period, Tyler Kennedy. Incredible. He really has started to come on so strong down the stretch.

Well, that didn’t last long. Fleury needed to make that save. Maybe it wasn’t a good pass or a good decision by Lovejoy, but I mean Couturier had nowhere to go with the puck. Fleury gave him a place to go to by going down for no apparent reason. Back to a tie. 5-5. Whoever can make fewer mistakes down the stretch is going to win this game.

A lot of back and forth. Again, this isn’t going to favor the Pens. There’s no doubt that we were the league leaders in goal scoring during the regular season. But we aren’t our best on the rush. We’re better when we can control the play. Right now we really aren’t doing that.

Jagr. The Pens just don’t have an answer for this top line of the Flyers. They simply don’t. I understand it came off an icing. I understand that the Flyers got to skate around with 6 men on the ice for half a minute with the puck in plain view of the bench area. The fact of the matter is, you know the refs clearly aren’t even on this planet. The fact of the matter is, you have to get through that. The Pens haven’t, I don’t know what more you can do.

Neal almost poked one home. Instead turned into a 2-on-1 for the Flyers, Giroux to Courturier, Fleury played it wrong again. First time in his career he’s ever let up 7 goals in one game.

Giroux with an empty netter. 3 goals, 3 assists. Remarkable.


A Few Thoughts:

Fleury played horrible. One of the very worst games he’s probably ever played in his entire career. I mean he didn’t make one save that mattered. Anytime it came down to Fleury or the Flyers, it was always the Flyers. Every single time. That’s not what we as Pens fans have come to expect. That’s not what Fleury has made us believe. You could see how pissed he was. I’m writing this moments from the end of the game, and yes I’m probably more emotionally on edge than I should be. But if you ask me, there is no way you put Fleury back in there on Sunday. You don’t give up 7 goals in a game and get the opportunity to start the next one.

This series is still a long way from being over, but this is going to be tough. The Pens aren’t playing good defense, for all the money we’ve invested in the defense, for all of the depth the Pens are said to have at defense, they have cost the Pens these two games. Hell, the forwards have been incredible, our top three lines have all produced admirably. Special teams suck. 2 short-handers this game, there is no way to win in that scenario. Beyond that Fleury is off his game.

The Gutless Line played awesome, when they got the chance. Vitale didn’t play in the 3rd, doesn’t seem smart to me, he is probably the biggest weapon at the Penguins’ disposal just because of what he means to the Flyers.

Alright pretty much all of my pep talk has come true. Both Talbot and Jagr have burned the Pens. There have been a lot of bad calls. There have been soft goals. Now that we’ve gotten that all out of the way, time to take care of business.

Sorry for the lack of media. As with the last one, I’m not lingering on this game any longer than I have to. Better luck next time.

Next game is at 3:00 on Sunday in Philly. Flyers’ had a better record on the road than at home this season, good. Flyers are incredibly bad in day games. Go Pens.

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