- Dan Bylsma has now coached more Pens games in playoff history than anyone else (47, passing Eddie Johnston)
- Niskanen came in for Lovejoy and Park in for Vitale. Vitale had 0 hits and only took 2 faceoffs last game, so he became expendable.
Flyers 8 Pens 4
Goals: Staal (1) from Kunitz, Michalek
Neal (1) from Niskanen, Malkin
Neal (2) (PP) from Malkin, Crosby
Staal (2) from Neal, Kunitz
- 5 Pens with 10 or more penalty minutes: Asham, Engelland, Neal, Letang, Adams
- Dupuis finally didn’t get on the scoreboard and was a -2 with 2 giveaways. Also didn’t get on the PP even with Crosby and Sullivan were in the box, which baffles me.
- Matt Cooke had 0 penalty minutes. In this mess, he deserves all the praise in the world for staying true to his reform. Very impressive.
- The Pens have lost 6 playoff games in a row for the first time in franchise history. They have also set a new record for goals allowed in the 1st 3 games of a series (20). They have also allowed 8 goals in 3 of their last 6 playoff games dating back to last year.
- Well, Matt Cooke played a clean game. The powerplay went 1 for 5, so that isn’t bad. No one died.
Jordan Staal – Going through the Pens roster, Staal is literally the only player I did not mark down in my notes as having an awful play and he added 2 goals on top of it. The bar was set very low in this game for what is classified as “good”, but Staal put in work offensively and managed to not get into any ridiculous scrums or throw any controversial hits. I’m glad one of our players showed some character AND playing ability at the same time today.
- The goaltending was bad on both sides, but of course, it hurt the Pens more. Bryzgalov had a bad game for Philly, but his team made it so no one will remember it. Fleury did not have the solid game he needed, letting up 2 very soft goals on the 1st and 4th Flyers goals (Talbot shorthanded on misplay of puck and Read 5-hole alone in front). He also had no help on the rest of the goals, which included a few cross-crease passes and a breakaway, but the point is, he wasn’t able to come up big when the team needed him most. Brent Johnson couldn’t change anything in the 3rd period either as he let up a goal 27 seconds into the period with no help from his defense. I tend to wonder if the goalies have so little confidence in the D right now that they can’t do the little things right because they are worried about 2 steps ahead every play. Just one part of a very bad team collapse.
James Neal – Neal was on my good list for 90% of the game and was the Pens top player with 2 goals, an assist, and some nice hits. Then came the ugly Couturier hit, completely unnecessary as the puck was not there. Then he chased after Giroux and went for his head it looked like but Giroux ducked. Just awful tactics by Neal and the type of stuff I would NEVER expect from a clean, hard-working player. I don’t know if Neal just lost his mind after taking some big hits (Grossmann did go knee to knee on him), but I expect more from Neal. The only reason I don’t harp on this more is because this is not in his character, but it was bad regardless. I would not be surprised if he got fined (suspended is probably too much based on Shanahan’s recent rulings).
Sidney Crosby – I have no problem with Sid fighting Giroux, or chirping and asking Schenn to fight. However, hitting Voracek’s glove away was childish and immature. I admit, I laughed at the time, but in retrospect it was stupid and pointless, why are you firing up a team that is dominating you and what does that say to your team? Also, he put Craig Adams in a horrible situation late in the game when he got into it with Hartnell, who clearly did not want to fight him. Adams was forced to jump in because that’s his job and may be sitting out a game because of it since he was 3rd man in and got an instigator with less than 5 minutes left. That also could get Bylsma a fine too. Sid is supposed to lead by example, which he did early in Games 1 and 2. I thought the Giroux fight was a great spark, though him fighting with his concussion history is stupid (Giroux is stupid as well for doing it with his history too). The rest of it was nonsense though, Sid is smarter and better than that.
|This image will cause nightmares for Shero, Holmgren, Bettman, |
the NHL, etc. for many many years...2 stars risking their careers.
Evgeni Malkin – Where art thou 50 goal scorer Geno? I don’t know what to say, he just seems off. His shots are off, his passing is off, his puck control and movement is off. I have to wonder if just a quiet game 1 and a bad game 2 have gotten into his head so much that he’s just frustrated and unsure what to do. He hasn’t done anything so awful that I have noted him for it, but he just hasn’t done all that much positive either for his usual enigmatic playing style. Geno is in a weird position this series, nothing is going wrong but nothing is going right. I suppose that’s good compared to most of the team right now.
- Michael Therrien would call this defense worse than the one he had back in 2006 when he accused them of trying to be the worst defensive team in the league. No one pays attention to anything in the defensive zone. I can’t harp on it enough, no one watches the back side of the play, ever. Go back and watch the replays and every Penguin is staring at the puck and the puck carrier for at least 3 of the goals. Which of course, leaves the breakaway goals and goaltending gaffes as the rest. This defense is the worst I have seen in a very long time in the NHL right now; I’m not even exaggerating. The players don’t trust themselves, each other, or anyone; they don’t work as a team; and they have no defensive awareness at all. They even stopped putting their sticks in passing lanes to stop cross crease passes or passes through the slot. This defense is fundamentally a joke and they could learn a thing or 2 from a high school team right now.
- Piggy-backing off of the defense issue is how horrible the PK has been. The Flyers went 4 for 7 on the powerplay today and are 6 for 10 on the series. This was a top 5 PK all season. There is simply no excuse for how bad they have been this series. They might be better off laying in front of Fleury at this rate. It’s pretty much every problem with the defense compounded by the fact there are only 4 guys out.
- The refs had 0 control of this game, yet again. That’s the only reason all of this chaos occurred. The NHL needs to address that ASAP. That’s all on that topic, everyone agrees on it, the refs are horrendous at keeping control.
Chris Kunitz – Kunitz had a decent offensive day but took two STUPID penalties that were completely needless. This isn’t all that surprising as he has taken quite a few stupid penalties all season, but they were huge turning points in this game. The first one was a slash in the offensive zone as Malkin was buzzing around with the puck. It was a completely pointless and needless slash and it killed momentum for the Pens. The second was backchecking as he lost a Flyers’ forward and then leaned into him to take him down. With how bad the PK has been, those were brutal penalties to take. And of course, the Flyers scored on both chances.
Kris Letang – Letang hasn’t played well defensively to begin with. Then he took a stupid cross-checking penalty for no reason out of frustration. He then followed that up by a fight with Kimmo Timonen which got both players thrown out of the game. If Letang wants to act like the best defenseman on the team, he needs to a) play defense and b) not put himself in stupid situations like that which hurt the team immeasurably. On top of it, not that it made a difference to the game, Letang tried Talbot’s “shhhh” maneuver on his way off the ice. How arrogant and embarrassing. It was a pathetic copycat move and just made the team look even more stupid. Thanks for nothing in this game, Letang.
Arron Asham – Asham’s display was simply a disgrace to hockey. His final line was 3 shifts, 42 seconds, -1, 10 PIM, match penalty for intent to injure. He was thrown out of the game after cross-checking Schenn in the throat. While Schenn went down, clearly in pain, Asham punched the back of his head into the ice. If Laviolette wants to call something gutless, that was the definition there. It was an embarrassment to hockey and Asham should and likely will be suspended for it. I don’t expect to see Asham in a Pens jersey ever again, and good riddance after that play. The Beagle fight looked bad as is earlier this season, this definitely crossed the line.
|A year ago, this was Cooke's normal look. He changed. |
Asham likely won't get the chance to with this team.
- I don’t think it’s time to fire Bylsma but I wouldn’t be doing a good job if I didn’t talk about his future with this team. This will probably be the 3rd straight early exit for the Pens. Montreal knocked the Pens out 2 years ago by appearing to be much better prepared in vital situations. The Pens squandered a 3-1 lead in the series last year to Tampa Bay as their special teams could not adjust. And now you have this year. Bylsma seems to do much better with teams that are underdogs or have less skill on them, but he is having issues with how to handle his fully healthy team. It is certainly not cause for his head yet, but it’s okay to be concerned. His leash will shorten considerably next year as the prime years of this team and core aren’t being capitalized on.
- I know this won’t happen, but after the Islanders debacle last year and Lemieux coming out to call out the NHL, its refs, and the Isles; I would love to see Lemieux come out into the press and call out his own team for such a disgraceful display of fighting and dirty hits. The Pens proved everyone right about everything in Game 3 by acting arrogant, dirty, and disrespectful throughout the whole game. It was an embarrassment to the sport of hockey as a whole. Lemieux is doing a disservice to the organization that he owns if he doesn’t come down hard on the team and say something.
- I never thought I would be saying this. But give some of the Flyers credit for being classy in this game. Crosby asked Schenn to fight, said he was okay to fight, and Schenn was clearly hesitant and shook him off. Thank you for not ruining our franchise captain, Schenn. I’m glad he at least had sense when Crosby didn’t. The second one goes to *gulp* Hartnell. Hartnell also had the chance to fight Crosby, Sid was going after him pretty hard and Hartnell resisted and shook him off. Eventually Adams came over and Hartnell finally gave in to a fight. Both Schenn and Hartnell could have easily gone with Sid and landed potentially career crushing blows. Appreciate the fact that they didn’t.
- Bylsma said Fleury starts the next 4 games…which we shall all hope means all the way through Game 7. The chances look bleak for this team, not because of the 3-0 deficit as much as how they got to a 3-0 deficit. However, somewhere in that locker room is the same team we have seen throughout the regular season that could come back from absolutely anything. So I still have hope, and I still believe that team can show up. Whether they do is a completely different question, but we won’t know until the end of Game 4.
Keys to Game 4:
- Defense. Play it. Look around for guys in the defensive zone. Sticks in passing lanes. Keep track of coverages. Just, defense. Win 1 game and work from there.
Flyers lead series 3-0. Next Game: 4/18 @ Phi, 7:30pm, Root Sports / NBCSports