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“View from the Philly Pressbox” – Flyers-Penguins, Game 5

In Philadelphia Flyers on April 21, 2012 at 6:29 pm

In today’s “View from the Philly Pressbox” we look at the Penguins, 3-2, closely played, Game 5 of the 1st Round series. The Flyers now lead the series 3-2 as the series comes back to the Wells Fargo Center for a Sunday noon game.

In our series preview we identified the four keys for the Flyers to win the series and they haven’t changed.

  • ·        Don’t fall behind early in games
  • ·        Ilya Bryzgalov
  • ·        Staying out of the penalty box
  • ·        Stay healthy

Don’t fall behind early in games. The team that has scored first has lost all five games of this series. The Flyers jumped out first with a power play goal by Matt Carle at the 11:45 mark of the 1st period. The Penguins bounced right back with a power play goal of their own when Steve Sullivan scored at 14:51 with Braydon Coburn in the box serving a mystery interference penalty. Numerous replays couldn’t find the penalty. The Flyers came right back with their second power play goal of the period when Scott Hartnell scored at 17:35, finishing up a perfect set-up from Danny Briere and Claude Giroux.

The period was very well played by both teams. Both teams were on defensive lock down with the Flyers leading in shots on goal, 7-6. The offensive fireworks we’d seen throughout the series are finished. Ilya Bryzgalov was playing well and the Flyers had gotten off to the good start they needed.

 Ilya Bryzgalov – Bryzgalov bounced back from his awful Game 4 with a decent showing. He made several big saves with the game on the line early in the 3rd period. Two of the Penguins goals were defensive break downs that allowed Penguins players to shoot lasers from in close that Bryz had no chance to stop. Overall, we feel, he played fairly well, stopping 20 of 23 shots. Bryz effort was overshadowed by the outstanding effort from the games #1 star Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury saw 26 shots, turning back 24 of them. He made several big saves in the final 10 minutes of the game as the Flyers desperately buzzed the net. It was a decent game by Bryzgalov, but advantage Fleury in Game 5. The Flyers need Bryz to be equally as good if not better in Game 6.

Stay Healthy – James Van Riemsdyk was back in the lineup after missing a good part of the season with various injuries, most recently a broken foot. JVR saw only 7:31 seconds of ice time in his first game back.

The big injury news was the loss of Nick Grossman. Grossman is a big, strong, experienced defenseman that has been a major part of the Flyers success. Grossman is listed as day-to-day with concussion like symptoms; however, he didn’t make the trip to Pittsburgh. Grossman is day-to-day at this point.  Due to the injury to Grossman, Peter Laviolette had to make serious decisions on his defensive pairings. He went “all-in” with Carle, 29:40 seconds of ice time, Coburn, 29:11 second and Kimmo Timonen, 25:01 seconds. As a result of the “Big 3” playing almost half of the hockey game Eric Gustafsson, activated to replace Grossman, saw only 11:51 minutes of ice time while Andreas Lilja played just 7:09 seconds and Pavel Kubina 6:52 seconds. This was a huge risk by Laviolette, especially with the short turnaround between a Friday night game and a Sunday noon game. If Grossman can return for Sunday’s game the minutes can be spread out more. Tired players make mistakes and the Flyers cannot afford mistakes at this point in the series.

Staying out of the penalty box will be critical. The Flyers did a good job staying out of the penalty box. They were called for three minor penalties in the game. One of them resulted in a Pittsburgh goal. The Penguins were called for five minors that resulted in two Flyers goals. The referees, Paul Devorski and Dan O’Rourke, let the teams play on both ends of the ice. Both teams were very disciplined, for the most part, while playing tight defense in spite of some wide open offense. They also kept Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin off the score sheet. Malkin had 4 shots on goal in 21:14 seconds of ice time while Crosby had 2 shots in 20:05 second of work.

Special Teams remain critical to the playoffs. The Flyers had a slight advantage in Game 5 but couldn’t get one past Fleury on their only opportunity in the 3rd period in spite of several in-close opportunities. Briere had the best opportunity with a wide open top of the net but couldn’t get the puck over the pads of Fleury.

The biggest improvement the Flyers need to make in Game 6 is in their five-on-five play. The Flyers cannot wait for power play situations to score. For the second game in a row, the Flyers’ only offensive production came from the power play. They have not scored an even-strength goal in 139 minutes, 33 seconds. As Hartnell said following the game, “Five-on-five, we got badly outplayed, badly outscored, now we’ve got to regroup.”

Our prediction has been the Flyers in 6 games and we’re still on it. The series is now being played as playoff hockey that includes close, tight checking, discipline, good defense, good goaltending, some wide open offense and special teams. We stated in our “View from the Philly Pressbox” – Game 4 post the “The Flyers need to play well in Game 5 in Pittsburgh. Of course, we want them to win; however, what we need to do is play good, tough, discipline hockey as they have done in the first three games and there’s a good chance they could close out the series.” The Flyers did that. They will make the necessary adjustments and will win the series on Sunday.

I’d rather be ahead 3 games to 2 and coming home than trailing 3 game to 2 and going on the road. The Flyers are still in command of the series and will win.

 As Gene Hart would say” GOOD NIGHT and GOOD HOCKEY”

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Flyers Ready to Run for “THE CUP”

In Philadelphia Flyers on January 31, 2012 at 10:34 am

With 48 games played and 34 remaining the Flyers come out of the All Star break in a nice position. They’re in 2nd place in the Atlantic Division 3 points behind the dreaded Rangers. What’s in the Flyers favor is that they play 7 of the next 9 games in the friendly confines of the Wells Fargo Center. The 2 road games are at the Rangers February 5 and at Detroit, 1st in overall points with 67, on February 12th. During those 7 games the Rangers and Penguins come in as well as Nashville, the Devils, Islanders, Maple Leafs and Sabers. Obviously the 2 games against the Rangers will be important especially if it’s a 4 point swing either way. We will know an awful lot about this team after this 9 game, 3 week stretch.

The team is presently 29-14-5 and has done it with a ton of injuries throughout the 1st half of the season. Chris Pronger is lost for the season, Claude Giroux, Shane Couturier, Braydon Shenn, James Van Riemsdyk, Jaromir Jagr and now Danny Briere have missed games due to injuries. Only Scott Hartnell, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Matt Carle, Max Talbot and Andrej Meszaros have played in all 48 games.

The scoring leaders at the break are Giroux 18 goals, 37 assists, 55 points (18-27-55). He is 2nd in the league in scoring and 4th in assists. Hartnell 25-19-44 with 13 power play goals which is tied for the league lead. His 25 goals tie him for 6th in the league. Jagr 12-22-34. Kimmo Timonen 2-29-31. Rookie Matt Read 15-16-31. Read is 1st in goals by a rookie and 3rd in total rookie points and rookie +/-, and Briere 13-17-30.

The problem has again been inconsistency in the goal. The job belongs to high price off season acquisition Ilya Bryzgalov but he doesn’t seem to want to keep it. He is 18-10-4 with a 2.99 GGA (goals against average) with 1 shutout. Sergei Bobrovsky has done a real nice job as a fill in. Bob is 11-4-1 with a 2.42 GGA. At some point Head Coach Peter Laviolette will have to make a decision on his #1 net minder will be going in to the playoffs. If it were today the answer looks pretty clear, it’s Bob. There’s a long way to go and goalies can get hot and carry teams to Stanley Cup Championships so I’m sure this will play out for another 20 games or so.

The Flyers need to get and stay healthy, be consistent in the goal and continue their aggressive play without any major slumps. I feel this team can make a deep run in to the playoffs and if the goaltending is great WIN THE CUP!!!!

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