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Flyers-Penguins Game 1: The Intermission Blog

Friday, May 9, 2008

End of 3rd period.  Flyers 2 – Penguins 4.

– Fleury with some great saves on Carter.

– Biron looked much better.  Shame he couldn’t bring that ability at the beginning of the game instead of just the end.

– Strange call with a minute and a half remaining.  Whatever happened to the third-man-in rule?

As previously stated, it’s only game 1.  The Penguins didn’t blow out the Flyers by any means, and that’s without Kimmo Timonen.

End of 2nd period.  Flyers 2 – Penguins 4.  Malkin scores a short-handed goal.

– Flyers came out without a sense of urgency, and they paid for it.  Period.

– Biron improved as the period progressed.  The Flyers could come back if they score quickly in the third.

– Mike Richards is a man on a mission.  Just watch his aggressiveness physically.  He’s only 5’10”, but he’s muscleing the bigger Penguins off the puck and creating scoring opportunities for the Flyers.  There may be a clutch goal or two ahead of him.  And that’s not even factoring in assists.

– Penguins looked sluggish on their power play, struggling to set up in the offensive zone.  Bizarre.

End of 1st period.  Flyers 2 – Penguins 3.  Both Flyer goals from Richards.  Penguins from Sykora, Crosby and Malkin.

– Marty Biron does not look sharp, especially on his attempts to play the puck.  He was caught out of his net several times with the Penguins swarming – which led directly to Crosby’s goal.  (The Versus color guy drooled over that, but if you can’t score with a goaltender out of his net, maybe you don’t desere to be an NHL superstar.  Crosby should have scored that goal, and did.)  If I were John Stevens, I’d consider using bungee cords to affix Biron to that net.  That said, Biron does tend to improve as the game continues, so don’t count him out yet.

– Mike Richards is the definition of clutch.  One banked off Fleury, the other went top shelf.

– Poor defensive coverage by Jaroslav Modry led directly to the Sykora goal.  A poor defense change with 10 seconds remaining in the first led to Malkin’s.  Perhaps they’re trying to do too much with Timonen out.  Perhaps it’s just sloppiness.  Either way, the blue line needs to tighten up.

– Flyers need to keep attacking, continue avoiding the penalty box, and see better goaltending from Marty Biron.  Fleury’s not handling rebounds well, so the Flyers need to shoot the puck as often as possible.  This one isn’t over yet, folks!

Kimmo Timonen is out.  Jaroslav Modry is in.  Not exactly a great trade off, but it will have to do.

With Timonen down, match ups increase tenfold in importance for both teams.  The Penguins will try to exploit the Flyers’ slow guys – Hatcher and Smith – as well as the young guys – Jones and Kukkonen – as much as possible.  They’re going to create more pressure, attempt to draw more penalties, and generally force their way towards Marty Biron.

For the Flyers, match ups are also key – and much harder to achieve since Pittsburgh has the last change by virtue of home ice advantage.  Look for the Richards line against Crosby and Carter against Malkin.  Those combinations are more about putting size against size and personality against personality.  There is absolutely no love lost between Crosby and Richards on the ice – and in the past that conflict has set a distinct tone for their respective teams.

On paper, the Penguins should win.  But with the Flyers’ recent run, be ready for anything.  It’s only Game 1.

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