Saturday, April 18, 2009

Pitt-Philly Game 2 Postgame: Well That Was Exciting

So did Biron decide that he'd be good against everyone except Bill Guerin?

3 Stars:

#1 Bill Guerin
#2 Marc-Andre Fleury
#3 Braydon Coburn

Penalty Round-Up:

Game 1- PHI 9, PIT 5
Game2- PHI 6, PIT 4

The story of this game was penalties. In game 1, the Flyers were whistled for 8 minor infractions. Even though they managed to kill off 7 of those penalties, the accumulated fatigue those penalty kills caused their best players most certainly had an impact on the game. Last night, the Flyers were much more disciplined and were able to shut down Malkin and Crosby without taking any poor penalties. The result was a much more even game, one in which the Flyers, not the Penguins, often looked like the more dynamic team. When Darroll Powe scored in the beginning of the third, I assumed the game was over.

Unfortunately, the Flyer's struggles with penalties reared its ugly head*, when Jeff Carter was unjustly whistled for a hooking penalty. Jordan Staal actually grabbed Carter's stick and pulled it into his body, but the ref saw a stick in someone's side and automatically blew the whistle. (You ever notice that refs always call penalties right around the 5 minute mark when a team is down by one? It's like they don't want to truly decide the outcome of the game in the last minute, but still want to give the losing team one last chance to tie it.) A shot from the blue line bounced off Evgeni Malkin and the game was tied.

*As an outsider to this whole thing, one thing that's really bothering me is this misguided perception that the Flyers are a rough-and-tumble team. Sure, they're 2nd in the league in fighting majors but they're 14th in roughing penalties and 14th in misconducts. They're also 4th in hooking penalties, 1st in trips, 1st in slashings and 1st in boardings. They're undisciplined, not rough.

In overtime, penalties once again reared their ugly head. Defenseman Hal Gill got a pretty weak call for cross-checking in the extra period, a call that was balanced out by an even weaker cross-checking call on Mike Knuble. An unfortunate slash that broke a stick guaranteed a penalty for young Claude Giroux and Bill Guerin was able to take advantage on a 5-on-3. Martin Biron played pretty well last night but both Guerin goals were soft and the gap between him and Marc-Andre Fleury is starting to get glaring.

The Flyers ultimately take too many penalties and last night was instructive for 2 reasons: one, it showed how costly penalties are for them, and two, it showed just how good they can be when they don't commit penalties. The Flyers are a very good offensive team with defensemen that can activate and make a difference for their team; their penalties only disrupt that. I think the Flyers are probably better 5-on-5 than the Penguins because they have so much depth at forward and can afford to rest their top players a bit more, but that's not going to matter unless the Flyers can play a completely clean game. Right now, I don't think they can do that.

1 comment:

  1. You're definitely right about penalties being the factor in that game. Actually, as a Penguins fan, that was my one worry among the bliss: Pittsburgh seemed quite dependent on the PP.

    However, there were A LOT of chances that were very close for Pittsburgh. They hit a post and had a lot of good looks at Biron. Overall, I think they took the play to the Flyers.

    But I might just be looking at things through Black and Gold colored glasses.