Flyers-Penguins Game 4: The Intermission Blog
End of 3rd period. Penguins 2 – Flyers 4. Staal scores twice for the Pens. Lupul seals it with an empty netter.
It was scary, but the Flyers held out. As in the entire Montreal series, Marty Biron proved the hero.
I loved the scrums towards the end of the game. Malone received the bitter end of a Flyer fist for the third time this year. And a big part of me wishes the referees had let Richards and Crosby have at it. Yes, I know that no one wants to see either player injured in a fight – particularly Crosby. But those two have had an unceasing verbal battle going since day 1 of the season series, and it would be fun to view a culmination amidst the highly energetic Wachovia Center fans.
Also good to see the Versus commentators giving positive feedback about the Flyer faithful, noting their passion, their signs, and the player reaction. Most journalists have had an all-out bashfest when it comes to the orange-clad masses. It’s refreshing to hear a different perspective.
Overall, the Flyers brought the game they needed. They built a three-goal cushion in the first, then withstood the torrent of Penguins’ attacks in the third long enough to secure an empty netter and a win. For all focus on Danny Briere, Philadelphia is a team in the truest sense of the word. They cannot win unless all 20 guys on the bench commit to the game plan for a full 60 minutes. I’m aware that sounds trite. But there are no dominating stars like Malkin or Iginla or Forsberg wearing Flyer colors, so puck control stems from the group rather than an individual.
Returning to Pittsburgh will be extremely difficult. The Pens excel on home ice, and their fans supply huge quantities of passion and energy. Winning even the first period of game 5 is an uphill battle. If any team possessed the resiliency to make that happen, it’s the Philadelphia Flyers.
End of 2nd period. Penguins 0 – Flyers 3
I have become so accustomed to seeing a Flyer end up in the box every time the whistle blows that tonight is like a miracle on ice. The Penguins are the undisciplined bunch at the Wachovia Center. Well, if you’re not counting the fans.
– This Biron resembles the Marty we saw in Montreal. He’s been square to the puck all night and quick with the glove hand. The Penguins increased the traffic in the crease, but it hasn’t phased Biron yet.
– The boys in Orange and Black put together another good 20 minutes, attacking often and establishing consistent back- and forechecking. They need another 20 to win.
End of 1st period. Penguins 0 – Flyers 3. Goals from Lupul, Briere (PP), and Carter (PP).
– Flyers did exactly what was required. They came out, attacked from the start, got some excellent saves from Martin Biron, and capitalized on every Pittsburgh mistake. Now they must reproduce that effort for 40 minutes against a Pittsburgh team that will respond mightily.
– Mike Richards may not have scored in that period, but he led the way once more. His short handed breakaway created a massive energy boost for the Flyers. Biron followed the breakaway with an incredible stop on Crosby. Jeff Carter generated his own breakaway and took a threatening shot at Fleury. Then, the Flyers got a third rush in which Lupul launched a wrist shot from above the circles that became the first goal of the game.
– The other two Flyer goals represent the style of play we came to recognize as the Flyers’ best. Crashing the net. Jamming at pucks. Wreaking havoc on opposition goaltenders. Similar to what Holmstrom and Franzen do so effectively for Detroit.
Everyone seems to agree that offense is the Flyers’ primary problem.
Mixing up the lines might jump start the offense. Richards has been shifted up to the top line in an attempt to gain more goals out of Danny Briere. Stevens attempted this mid-season when Briere struggled to put anything on the scoreboard, and it wasn’t successful. Surprising, because everyone else who ended up on Richards’ line throughout the regular season seemed to blossom while on that line.
The bigger offense problem may actually be attributed to the two defensemen on the injury list. Most great offenses in the new NHL start with a puck moving defenseman. Timonen and Coburn are the only true puck movers on the Flyers’ roster. Jones and Modry will do in a pinch, but Kukkonen, Hatcher, Smith, and Parent are really stay-at-home guys by nature. Particularly Smith, who if you haven’t noticed, plays better without the puck.
We’ll see what happens. The one point of optimism – the Flyers tend to play their best hockey when their backs are against the wall. And they couldn’t be more against the wall than 3 games behind in the Eastern Conference Final.