Man. Not much to say. If you are reading this then you probably watched the game and you know the general feel. The Penguins got smoked again at the CONSOL Energy Center after holding leads throughout the entire game but coughed it up late to the game winner by Jaromir Jagr. Brutal.
Any time you score five goals in the playoffs you should win. The Penguins scored five and lost by three. The combined goals by the four other teams that played in the same time slot were 10 goals. The Penguins gave up eight (one empty net). Just can’t have that.
This seems to be a bad dream that just gets replayed over and over. The Penguins come out and play like gang busters and led 3-1 after the first period. Hell, Sidney Crosby started the scoring 15 seconds into the game and Chris Kunitz followed up with a power play goal at the halfway point of the first period. That was another two goal lead the Penguins squandered.
The final lead the Penguins had came just over a minute into the third period when Tyler Kennedy made it 5-4. I literally thought that might be the over the top type of goal they needed but 17 seconds later Sean Couturier scored on a horrid turnover by Ben Lovejoy and it was all over from there.
When you give up eight goals you usually can say that the defense was bad and that was true plus some today. Paul Martin played a pretty nice game and even scored a goal but the other five guys were totally lost and looked like they had no idea what was going on. The goal that tied the game at five on a turnover from Ben Lovejoy was just a mistake that can not happen. You can’t try to clear the puck up the center of the ice when there is a man standing right in front of you. He also was out of position on the eventual game winner. Make no mistake about it he wasn’t the only guy that was bad but those were two killer plays that led to goals. If they don’t figure it out then this series is over in four games.
The special teams was better and worse tonight. The Penguins scored a pair of power play goals but also gave up a pair of shorthanded goals that were just backbreaking. If you score two power play goals you should feel pretty good about your chance of winning but when you give up two shorties you aren’t going to win very often. The Flyers power play also tallied a goal on the power play and the Penguins could do nothing about it. Another reason the Flyers put up an eight spot.
As you all know I think Marc Andre Fleury is a top notch goaltender and I usually get some pushback from people around different teams saying that he is a top-10 guy. Well tonight was a huge game where he needed to step up and earn a win for his team and he did that for much of the first half of the game but when it came down to crunch time Fleury was not great. Granted the defense was bad and left him out to drive which left him with no chance but on the other end Ilya Bryzgalov was making those 10 bell saves and earning his team’s win. Now, I don’t think Fleury played a terrible game given the defense he was working with but he was only average and in a game like this you need to be much better than that. The Flyers have guys that can put the puck into the net and you need a goaltender to stand on his head every once in a while. MAF wasn’t seven goals bad tonight but there were maybe two of them that he needs to stop. The Jagr goal was one of them but it happens. He has to stand on his head in Philadelphia and earn this team two wins.
For how bad the Penguins played you really have to give all the credit in the world to the Flyers. They were by far the better team tonight and they scored a pair of hat tricks tonight with Claude Giroux scoring one of them and also having six points. Rookie Sean Couturier also netted a hat trick and while Bryz gave up five goals he was money on numerous occasions. The Flyers are a great hockey club and the Penguins are going to have to be a tougher team to play against. They need to pretty much play flawless hockey if they want to win a game let alone advance.
The Penguins are down two games to none after playing on home ice, this is not ideal but this series is not over. What is going to be the best for the Penguins is to get as far away from CONSOL as possible when they play the Flyers. For some reason the Flyers are in the Penguins heads when they play there. The Penguins are typically good on the road and they play pretty well in Philadelphia so if they can get a win on Sunday I think we have a whole new series. This isn’t the way I would want to plan it out but it’s not over. It is going to be unbelievably tough but that is what playoff hockey is all about.
Go do something to get your mind off hockey for a while.