- I just created a facebook page for this site and other random hockey stuff if that’s more your style: https://www.facebook.com/CrosbyFTW
- Okay, not to burst everyone’s bubbles, but that was not a statement game; that was just 1 win. If that was a statement game, then the Flyers have already made 3, so they are leading the statement game battle, 3-1. One game at a time…but let’s move on to the happiness!!!
- Finally, this is the weirdest effing playoff series I’ve ever seen in any sport.
|a) props to Pens fan there. b) lol @ porky pig sign.|
Pens 10 Flyers 3
Goals: Malkin (1) from Dupuis, Park
Niskanen (1) (PP) from Crosby, Sullivan
Crosby (3) from Niskanen, Malkin
Staal (3) from Tangradi, Cooke
Letang (1) (PP) from Crosby, Sullivan
Staal (4) (PP) from Kennedy, Cooke
Sullivan (1) (PP) from Fleury
Dupuis (2) from Kunitz
Staal (5) from Engelland
Malkin (2) from Kunitz, Kennedy
- 45 goals through the 1st 4 games of a series is a new NHL record
- The 10 goals scored tonight set a new road playoff record and ties the overall playoff record for Pittsburgh
- Matt Cooke finally accumulated his first PIMs of the series, getting 2 for high-sticking, 2 for holding the stick, and then a 10 minute misconduct for being attacked (?)
|How dare you get cross-checked 3 times!? Go to the locker room!|
- Joe Vitale played only 7 minutes despite only 11 forwards dressing. Meanwhile, Jordan Staal led the forwards with 23 minutes. Anyone spreading rumors of him being unhappy with his role should probably go reconsider their line of work (more on that at the end).
- Let’s start with the easy one, PENS SEASON ISN’T OVER!!! With their backs against the wall, the Pens came out with a very dominant win after a shaky start. Their reward: another must-win on Friday.
- The powerplay came to play in this one and it was very clear that adjustments had been made with the 2 days off. The Pens moved the puck quicker on the PP in this game than I have seen them try all season. That was huge because the Flyers PK is one of the more aggressive units in the league, and their players could not shift fast enough to catch a big break or go the other way unhampered. Also, for much of the PP, Crosby went back to his natural position on the half boards / rover. This is no slight to Geno, but with Crosby scoring and Geno cold going into the game, I’m glad the adjustment was made. It seems to have worked for both. Finally with the PP: Niskanen was a stud on the point both in puck control and making quick decisions. No complaints about the unit as a whole in this one.
- Malkin finally got on the board with 2 goals (and also an assist). His first goal was pure will as he stormed to the net from the penalty box, gave the puck up to Dupuis and went to the net to pick up the rebound and score. His second goal was also because he went to the net without the puck. This is a big difference from the first 3 games where he wanted full control of the puck crossing the blue line every time. The Flyers D clearly was not ready for it and stayed tight on him at the blue line, giving other players plenty of room with the puck and Malkin a chance to burst past clueless defensemen. Great adjustment by Geno.
- The team finally provided support to players who were beaten by the Flyers puck carriers. In the first 3 games, if one of the Pens was beaten on a play, there was no support and no chance of help. In this game, there was always a second and sometimes a third man ready to shift into position. The Pens played as a team tonight rather than as 18 talented individuals.
|Puck support to the max.|
Jordan Staal – Have to start with Staal, who backed up a very mature Game 3 with an explosive Game 4. He scored his 1st career postseason hat trick, on 3 shots. He also led the forwards in ice time with almost 23 minutes, 2nd on the team to Letang. Another big part of his game was in the faceoff circle where he went 15 for 23 (66%). He pretty much played a strong all-around game and made every shift count with every different set of linemates. Everyone looks to Geno and Sid, but after his attitude in Game 3 and afterwards, plus his Game 4 performance, we may be watching Staal mature into that 3rd franchise center and leader right now.
Steve Sullivan – Having Sullivan on the point for the powerplay clearly makes a world of difference for the team. His poise and passing ability works great from the point as he (cliché) QB’s the first powerplay line. His goal was a giant middle finger to the Flyers too, since they clearly did not respect his speed or slapshot which he just blasted past Bobrovsky. All of this aside, I have Sullivan here for what he did defensively though. On the PP, he made sure he stayed back and didn’t get caught in the offensive zone in a situation he couldn’t recover from. At even strength, he was frequently the first forward back and was always there to cover the 3rd Flyers forward coming in. He showed great attention to detail in making sure every Flyer was covered, and that’s exactly what the Pens needed.
|I'll be honest, didn't think Sulli could shoot like that.|
Pascal Dupuis – Sullivan was only outshined by one forward in the defensive zone and that was Dupuis. While Dupuis did add a goal and an assist on the scoresheet, I made many notes of the amount of times he covered a forward on Fleury’s crease or hustled back to cover the slot. His defensive positioning was perfect all game and it was a big boost to the Pens defense and Fleury. He also tipped away at least 3 cross-ice passes in the defensive zone, doing a great job of keeping his stick in passing lanes. While the defense has been crapped on all series, note that these forwards have a significant ability to make a difference in the defensive end.
|Commitment to defense, check.|
- The refereeing performance was just ridiculous at times. They started by calling every little detail, to the point that things that were almost a penalty actually became a penalty. They then shifted to calling just regular penalties. Then they let players play a little bit. Then once the game was clearly out of hand, they went back to overreacting (though probably best for the sake of both teams). It would be nice to see a full 60 minutes called the same way for the sake of, I don’t know, consistency?
- I know people are clamoring about Fleury’s play and the defense, but I’m still not sold on either one yet. Fleury only faced 25 shots, about half of which were during the 1st period when he did not look good. The 1st goal was partially his fault as he was scrambling and left his 5-hole open. The second goal was all on him as it was a shot from the point that beat him 5-hole. Most of his shots after that were when the game was getting lopsided and as a goalie, it’s much easier to act confident when you have a big cushion to work with. That being said, he did make some nice saves down the stretch, so the key will be if he can bring that confidence to the start of Game 5. As for the defense, they received a lot of forward help and also benefitted greatly from having 7 defensemen in the lineup. Everyone looked fresh throughout the game, though I personally believe the forwards (their forechecking and backchecking) are the reason that the Flyers only got 25 shots and pretty much rolled over by the end. Let’s just say I’m cautiously optimistic about the D right now.
Kris Letang – Per usual, people will likely kill me for this, but Letang is off of his defensive game. I counted 3 blatant giveaways from him in the defensive zone and his positioning wasn’t the best. On the first Flyers goal, he followed Engelland into his opposite side corner unnecessarily, which left Giroux alone to beat Fleury for the 1st goal on the PP. He needs to be much smarter than that on the PK when defending the crease is imperative. He did score on the PP, but honestly I discount that as a weak goal on Bryzgalov, who did not slide into his position with any sort of speed and was pulled immediately after. Letang is not playing to Norris trophy form right now, and we all know he is capable of it, so it would be nice to see it when the games are do or die.
|Stay in position and this won't happen, Kris.|
Chris Kunitz – Kunitz is on here simply because he continues to take idiotic penalties every game. Maybe the Flyers bought the interference call on him, but even if they did, he knew the game was being called tight and he put himself into that position to be called for it by skating into a player he could have easily avoided. With the PK being absolutely horrendous, he needs to stop doing this immediately. It was a big momentum shifter in Game 3 and he should have learned his lesson then.
- If nothing else, you can say the penalty killing unit is consistent. They entered the game killing just 4 out of 10 penalties, and then killed only 2 out of 5 in this one. The 2nd goal was on Fleury, but the 1st and 3rd ones were definitely on the penalty killers. Both defensemen were out of position for the 1st one. The 3rd one was the same Voracek play that I have complained about in every recap since Game 1. Voracek is always looking for the puck from the backside and does not leave that area, but no one even looks at him as they all watch the puck. This is inexcusable on so many levels since it has happened numerous times now. The Pens apparently cannot take a penalty or their PK will inevitably finish their season off on their own.
- So the sweep has been averted, but as we all know, only 3 teams have come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a series. The 2010 Flyers are amongst that small group. Is this a good thing or a bad thing for them though? On one hand, they are aware it’s possible, so they will be vigilant in keeping the Pens from doing it. On the other, they are aware it’s possible, so they know that the Pens are capable of it and it plants a seed of doubt in their head. Which is it? I’ll tell you in a week.
- Expect Bryzgalov to start on Friday unless he has re-injured his foot. He looked very slow to pick up the play last night and had difficulties controlling rebounds. His side to side was slow as well. I’m not sure if his foot injury would cause anything but the 3rd one, but the Flyers certainly lost their Ace in the hole when Bobrovsky came in and got lit up for 5 goals still. The goaltending battle has now turned into a war of attrition and a contest to see who can make just one or 2 big saves in a game.
|Bryzgalov played his best this year when he wasn't talking the media.|
- It will be interesting to see if the Pens go with 7 defensemen again on Friday. As of now, Despres is still with the team and practicing today, but it’s also an optional skate. Unlike everyone with pitch forks and torches, I have no problem putting Martin back into the lineup. The whole D has been bad, not just him, so there is no point in blaming him for more than his share. Personally, I’d love to see him in the lineup but only getting about 12-13 minutes of ice time. Note, I’d sit Strait, not Despres. Despres is a wonderful defenseman fundamentally and I see no point to ever sending him down again personally.
- Neal and Adams will be eligible to play in Game 5, so what does that mean for the lineup? The PP operated fine without Neal, which is a lineup question in itself. Neal obviously re-enters the lineup, but at whose expense? Strait to even up the lines? Tangradi, Vitale, or Park? Vitale only played 7 minutes, easily the least on the team, so I would not be surprised to see him get scratched and Neal to step in with 7 defensemen still in place. Bylsma loves to stick with what’s working, so 11 forwards might be his calling card. Also, I would expect Adams to come back in for Park to sure up the PK…not that it has made any difference all series anyways.
|One of the more unique box scores I've looked through.|
- One caveat to Game 5: Hartnell has yet to make an impact on this series. Look for him to go crazy on Friday, whether it be scoring on the Pens or physically attacking them and giving the Pens PPs. He is the Flyer to watch on Friday. Also, James Van Riemsdyk is a near lock to return to the lineup, giving the Flyers another skilled forward to work with. The D will have its hands full.
- Finally, a note on Twitter, Re: Staal trade rumors. Before you go crazy and start spreading rumors you hear or react to what people are suggesting, consider the original source and what they actually said. No one ever said Staal is unhappy in his current role; I dare you to find that original quote. The reporter’s quote was that “Staal would be unhappy (if kept in his current role).” WOULD BE. Meaning it’s speculation, and hypothetical, which is a proper analysis but has absolutely no bearing on this team right now or how Staal feels right now. The simple nuances of a sentence can vastly change the meaning, so take the time to look into it before losing your mind.
|Would Staal hold TK like he was the king of the world if|
Jordan didn't want to be here?
Keys to Game 5:
- DEFENSE AND PENALTY KILL. Also, ADJUSTMENTS. The defense still needs to be sharper and keep their heads on a swivel, and this needs to extend to the penalty kill in the worst way. Expect Laviolette to come back to Pittsburgh making some major adjustments against the Pens style, and Bylsma needs to be ready to adjust on the fly for it. Fleury is still going to have to steal a game at some point in this series. My gut feeling is that Friday is going to be that game as the Flyers want to crush any momentum the Pens can possibly build.
And remember...one game at a time. Focus on game 5.
And remember...one game at a time. Focus on game 5.
Flyers lead series 3-1. Next Game: 4/20 vs Phi, 7:30pm, Root Sports / NBCSports
PS - Podcast Discussing Game 4 and Previewing Game 5 will be up tonight