Bryzy is great

This game recap format has been stolen by yours truly from our good friends at The Footy Blog and will be deployed as often as I can humanly do it in what is sure to be a ridiculous postseason.

Game in a sentence

The Bryzgalov haters were quick to jump on the Flyers ‘tender but were quickly sent back to their caves as he stymied the Penguins after the first period and gave Philly a chance to come back and win this game despite being outplayed early.

Observations
- The teams’ very different approaches to this series were readily apparent from the get-go as the Penguins came into this game with plenty of pace and looked to generate chances down low while the Flyers were keen to lay the body.

- The Pens had great possession early and really had their way with the Flyers below the red line. Their point men did solid work to hold the zone and generate chances – Crosby’s goal being a prime example. Cycling the puck gets it back to the point and a shot on goal where #87 had the chance to lift it over Bryzgalov’s shoulder.

- The Flyers rebounded alright after the first Pens tally but got caught deep on bad pinches a couple times which led to scoring chances for Pittsburgh. Tyler Kennedy’s goal came as the result of four Flyers getting caught, a lucky Letang outlet pass up the middle – NEVER UP THE MIDDLE – and Jordan Staal with the perfect saucer pass. Bryzgalov didn’t have much of a chance on this one, says I.

- I pointed the third goal out in the earlier game thread… “Dupuis wraps up the period with a tally and Bryzgalov looks bad on this one.”  … That was bad on Bryzgalov.  Not good at all.

- All in all the first was dominant for Pittsburgh, they really showed off all of the elements that make them such a scary team. However, I was reluctant to pin much of the deficit on Bryzgalov. Sure, he gave up three goals but the Flyers looked flat footed and were chasing the body instead of playing good defence. There was a “deer in the headlights” culprit on every single first period goal they Penguins scored.

- On the Giroux boarding penalty: I didn’t think it was that bad. Yes, it could have been a dangerous play but there wasn’t any apparent intent, he was just trying to shoulder Orpik off the puck and caught him at a bad angle. Two minutes was fair, though I’d be hard-pressed to call it boarding. Straight hit from behind would have been fine.

- Literally everything went horribly for the Pens on the Briere goal. A bad lead pass exposed flat footed defencemen and found its way to a wide open Daniel Briere who was well offside and behind the rearguards. I’m also not entirely clear on what Fleury was trying to accomplish on that pad stack.

- I can’t really state this enough: Bryzgalov stole the game for the Flyers. Several key saves over the course of the second and third period – including one in particular that sticks out in my mind on a wide open Steve Sullivan in the slot – kept the Flyers in the game and gave them a chance to keep pushing. What happens as a result? Briere scores off of a crazy bounce to make it 3-2 and Brayden Schenn ties the game to put it into OT.

- The Flyers showed their resiliency in overtime as some hard work got pucks to the net and a rebound found its way to Jakub Voracek who buried it. Pretty great that the GTG and GWG both came to the Flyers as a result of the trades which shipped Mike Richards and Jeff Carter out of town.

- Not as much physicality as I expected but that’s not necessarily a surprise given the fact that every player knows what’s on the line in the playoffs. Both teams were clearly trying to avoid retaliation penalties and the refs let them play. Either way, a little weird to see these teams play a relatively clean game.

- Definitely interested to see how each goaltender responds in game two. Fleury was steady but far from spectacular while Bryzgalov was slow out of the gate and ultimately led his team to a win. Will it be more of the same or will someone establish themselves as the stronger netminder?

My Three Stars:

1) Daniel Briere

2) Sidney Crosby

3) Brayden Schenn