In what seems to be a recurring theme to the Penguins/Flyers series the Penguins came out and played some great hockey for about the first 10 minutes and then the Flyers turned the table and really beat down the Penguins moving the season series to a very lopsided 4-1 mark in favor of Philadelphia. Not a good day to be the Penguins.
The Penguins were all over the ice and dominating the Flyers in the first 10 minutes. It really was about as one sided as you can get as both Steve Sullivan and James Neal scored and the Flyers could barely get shots off but a goal in the last five minutes of the period by Claude Giroux that really took away a lot of good momentum that the Penguins had for a lot of the period.
The second period the Flyers were able to get the tying goal just 1:25 in when Max Talbot had a slick redirect past Marc Andre Fleury. There were no other goals the rest of the period but the Penguins were pretty lucky in that respect. The defensive lapses in the second were plentiful and the Flyers probably should have had a couple goal lead with the way the game was played in the second period. Not good.
Things got even worse in the third period as Wayne Simmonds scored on a really slick power play and then Jakub Voracek took a stretch pass that beat Matt Niskanen and MAF to give the Flyers a 5-2 lead and it was pretty much over from there. Sullivan scored with just under five minutes left but that was about it and it was too little too late.
Things got really chippy at the end of the game. It all started with a clean check from Joe Vitale and then all hell broke loose. [Insert Wrestlemania quote]. Here is the video:
Big h/t to @Rmas_71 for the video
No idea what everyone from the Flyers were so jammed up about. On the ice it was from the Vitale hit but when Disco and Lavy got into it was from Lavy breaking a stick on the glass and it ending up in the Penguins bench. Also Lavy was pissed that the Penguins sent out their fourth line with only 1:30 left. Evidently there are only certain times in the game that certain players can play. That hit was about as clean as it comes and then Vitale was jumped and everything was going off. Lavy was yelling at Disco and who knows what happens. No idea what comes of this.
Overall this was just a horrid game for the defense. While I don’t think Penguins fans should overreact about this game it is starting to become very concerning that the defense has had about a two week stretch of playing some pretty poor hockey. I don’t even know what it is. Most games the defense is just way out of position and just looks lost for shifts at a time. This is something that can’t happen in the playoffs if the Penguins want to advance. The Flyers are not afraid of the Penguins and while they only had 26 shots on goal, 14 through two periods, they find the back of the net. They have a ton of talent and they will make you pay for shoddy defense.
That being said MAF had another bad day. Not a good time for your top netminder to go into a fun but hopefully he can work through it over the next three games. Nobody said this was going to be easy but MAF played so good for so long that a stretch of games like this is really alarming and might get you all worked up. I think he will be OK but this has lasted a few more games than I thought. He has never been great against the Flyers and although he has beaten them a fair amount of times through his career he just doesn’t seem comfortable. No idea why.
Something that does have a fairly easy solution to Chris Kunitz not taking amazingly terrible penalties. None was bigger than the one he took today to open up the third period for interfering with Marc-Andre Bourdon when the Penguins were on the power play. The worst part is that Kunitz was going off the ice and basically just stuck out his stick and tripped Bourdon way away from the play. On the ensuing power play for the Flyers Simmonds scored and that was about all she wrote. Kunitz has been having a really good season but he just kills the team with these penalties. It has to stop come playoff time. It is one thing to do it in a regular season game when you have clinched a playoff spot and another when you are in a seven game series when one game can chance the entire flow of the series.
You know what sucks about this all? Sergei Bobrovsky pretty much owns the Penguins, especially in the CEC. He has never lost here and moreover the Flyers have no lost in this building all year. No idea if home ice even matters anymore because there just isn’t that home ice advantage. Granted, it would help if the Penguins played for more than 10 minutes before going into a shell but that could turn into a book that nobody wants to read. All told Bobrovsky was really good today. He gave up a few early but just like he did against the Senators yesterday he buckled down in the second and third and really did a nice job.
Something that a lot of people aren’t going to like but needs to be said is that the Flyers are a good team. There were some people on twitter that weren’t happy that I said a few nice things about the Flyers after the game but truth be told the Flyers are just better than the Penguins. They are a really talented club and know what it takes to beat this team. I have a lot of respect for Wayne Simmonds. Would love to have this dude in black and gold but he is a Flyer so I pretty much have to hate him. He got hit in the face with a puck yesterday and got eight stitches and still mixed it up in a fight with Deryk Engelland and it didn’t matter. He is a skilled guy that gets dirty and gets results. I know people, myself included, do not like Scott Hartnell but he is good at his job. I relate it much to the Penguins version of Matt Cooke or Chris Kunitz. I still hate Hartnell but if he was a Penguin I imagine that he would be a fan favorite.
Another thing that seems to be happening way too often is passing up shots to make the “cute” pass. I am not a person that always wants just mindless shots on goal but continually the Penguins are getting great looks at the goal but they have been trying to make that one extra pass or going down the center making the blind pass. I typically don’t get too worked up about this but it is happening more and more often. It almost seems like the Penguins are trying to be overly unselfish or that they just know they are that talented but it is starting to cost them good scoring chances and giving the opponent breakouts the other way. Maybe this will get worked out but it’s starting to become a concern of mine.
There is so much more to say about this game but I think the guys from Broad Street Hockey said it best in their recap when they said that the end of this game was setting the tone. One team wasn’t right and one team wasn’t wrong but this was just both teams setting the stage for an unreal playoff series that is coming up. It is going to be a wild race seeing that these two teams play in less than a week in a non playoff game.