Game in a Sentence
For guys not golfing this time of year, both goaltenders got to work on their tans on Friday as the goal light was very red, very lit and very overworked.
- I loved the start I saw from Pittsburgh. I was curious as to how they would rebound and I saw what I wanted. They looked fast, they looked angry, they looked focused. Not much tells that tale better than a goal from your superstar 15 seconds into a game. Unfortunately for them, 15 second spans happen 240 times in a hockey game which was more than enough time to lapse.
- The Flyers first goal was a perfect example of capitalizing on your opportunities in a game that started badly. Great counter-attack on the Pittsburgh misplay by Giroux, good finish by Talbot to cap off the short handed goal. Pittsburgh gets into grooves where they just don’t turn the puck over so it’s crucial to test them when they do.
- It was pretty apparent that Sidney Crosby was doing everything he could to hoist the Penguins on to his back. The puck was glued to his stick at times and he simply willed a couple of plays into being. It says a lot to me that he and Malkin were the only Pens forwards to play over 20 minutes. Crosby was an even rating, Malkin was -4. More on that in a moment.
- Claude Giroux is playing the Crosby role for the Flyers and it’s hard not to be floored with how well he is playing. His creativity and puck play are a defensive nightmare for Pittsburgh as he just seems to force them into mistakes. Philly could be down by five or more goals but they will not die as long as Giroux is leading the charge. He has become a fairly highly touted player in this league and I still feel he’s under appreciated.
- Pittsburgh’s response after the Flyers made it 3-3 is what frustrates me to no end with this team. They look like they can score at will. When they play with that edge they are unstoppable, yet it comes and goes. Why can’t they finish? Where’s that intensity? Short-handed goals because of simple errors are inexcusable for this team.
- On that note, what the hell is up with Evgeni Malkin? I know Sean Couturier is doing a hell of a job on him (more on THAT in a moment) but he clearly has some freedom as evidenced by that Kunitz goal. Seriously, get him off the milk carton and feed him the puck. He has totally lost all of his flair and looks nothing like the guy who dominated the regular season. Perhaps Crosby’s work has taken too much pressure off of Malkin to do some heavy lifting.
- Sean Couturier has turned into a nice little story. Jaromir Jagr compared him to Ron Francis after tonight’s game and for the record I still don’t know how he fell to Philly in the draft. He, Giroux and Brayden Schenn could form the core of something otherworldly in the future. Couturier’s two-way game is remarkably developed for someone his age and the points are coming as a result of his work over the full sheet of ice. I’m willing to bet Peter Laviolette and Danny Briere are a big reason why he has excelled so soon.
- Once again, Ilya Bryzgalov made enough big saves to keep the Flyers close and eventually overtake the Penguins. He’s not doing it the conventional way, but a win is a win is a win at this time of year. We love to poke fun at him but give the man his due.
- At the other end of the spectrum is Marc-Andre Fleury. He has been wavering between competent and lost through two games this series and that’s not good enough. He needs to be better. He needs to make that game changing save.
- Jaromir Jagr is 40. Digest that. If it hadn’t been for the years Teemu Selanne has had recently, I’d say Jagr is the top over-40 forward in hockey. Unfortunately his Finnish peer’s work only makes him remarkable and not the clear cut best.
- Despite Jagr’s sentimental impact on Pens fans, Max Talbot is having the most tangible one on the team even if it isn’t always appearing on the score sheet. The guy has been a workhorse and led all Flyers forwards in ice time on the penalty kill. He knows how to get the job done and this series would be very different if he was still on his old team.
- Would we expect anything less than a total slugfest in game three at this point? Let’s go.
My Three Stars:
1) Claude Giroux
2) Sean Couturier
3) Max Talbot