Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Don't Hassle the Hoss....Pens win

  • The last team to win 11 of their first 12 playoff games was the 1983 Edmonton Oilers. That team had a couple of names you might have heard of...Gretzky, Messier, Anderson, Kurri, Coffey, Fuhr. Those guys went on to form the nucleus of something of a dynasty, yes?
  • Back to this years Pens, it's hard not to be proud of them. Tonight's game wasn't an aesthetically pleasing one, but by design. Pittsburgh scored two goals in the first 7:41 of the game and then limited the Flyers to 8 shots after two periods of play.
  • One thing we didn't like was Steve Downie charging Petr Sykora....Downie made an ill-advised play in his own zone in the 3rd period, throwing a cross-ice pass that was intercepted and quickly turned into a Penguin odd man rush. Sykora eventually got the puck and threw a great pass to Ryan Malone who back-handed a goal past Martin "French Toast" Biron. Downie, no doubt irritated at himself for the turnover, charged in with a full head of steam and plastered Sykora well after he had dished the puck and it left Sykora down. Even though Sykora did return to the game, a hit like that isn't cool. In Game 2 Tyler Kennedy didn't forget Scottie Upshall needlessly cross-checking Kris Letang in the back in the dying moments of Game 1. Surely the Pens won't forget about Downie.
  • But then again, this is the second game in a row a misplay by Downie ended up in the back of his net. We wouldn't be surprised if he's a scratch for Game 4.
  • Like we mentioned earlier: ironically the Penguins are proving Washington Capitals fan JP right: Marty Biron isn't that good. Sure Marian Hossa has a great wrist shot and there was traffic in the form of a Philly defenseman....But a shot from 15 or so feet is one a goalie can't be letting by this time of year.
  • The beginning of the game saw a bunch of relatively ticky-tack hooking penalties, as if the referees were trying to show they were in control of the game. But when Jordan Staal made a great effort while short-handed and a defenseman was draped all over him preventing a shot, no call was to be found. Even Flyer RJ Umberger commented between periods that it was not a very consistently officiated game.
  • Total shots for Daniel Briere and Vaclav Prospal combined: the big goose egg. Another testament to how well the Penguins defensive unit has played, notably Sergei Gonchar and Brooks Orpik who the Pens have been trying to match up with them as much as possible.
  • Speaking of the Penguins defensemen, every one of them had at least one blocked shot and they combined for 12 as a unit, almost matching the 18 shots that Philly got on Marc-Andre Fleury. That's how you play a road playoff game right there.
  • We loved the shots of the fans after every Pens goal. Total dejection. They know what we all know: the Flyers are totally outclassed in this game, and well, in the series too.

All in all, a workman like effort that got the job done. It wasn't pretty, but it was effective. If Malone or Evgeni Malkin could have tied up Umberger's stick as a Flyers' powerplay ended, it would have been a shutout. As it was, a fairly convincing performance.

And look at that, a whole recap without talking about the #1 star of the game (for the second game in a row) Sidney Crosby. He made some relatively quiet plays but when you look back at the game, still ended up with two important assist....Piling up the points almost quietly like that Gretzky guy used to do.

11 wins down, 5 more for Lord Stanley....

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