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

In Philadelphia Flyers on May 11, 2012 at 9:16 pm

In this addition of the “View from the Philly Pressbox” we take a look at Game 5 of the Round 2 matchup between the Flyers and the New Jersey Devils in the “Chase for Lord Stanley’s Cup”. In our preview we identified our keys to the series. We will review and analyze these keys and how they affected the outcome of the game.

Following are the keys for the Flyers to win this series:

  • ·        Shoot the puck at Martin Brodeur, minimum 28 shots per game.
  • ·        Stay Healthy
  • ·        Special Teams
  • ·        Full team participation
  • ·        Ilya Bryzgalov

Shoot the puck at Martin Brodeur, minimum 28 shots per game – We were going to break this key point in to three separate points. The Flyers must shoot the puck at the future Hall of Famer, Brodeur. They cannot afford in get in to tight checking, close games with 15-20 shots per game or Brodeur can steal the series. The Devils have been very successful playing this style of hockey for years. The Flyers need to control the pace of the game by working end-to-end and getting the lead early in the games forcing the Devils out of their system. If the Flyers fall behind in the series as they did in Round 1, and throughout most of the season, they could find themselves in trouble. Get out of “the room” quick, and at full speed, and the Flyers will be in control.

Result: For the second time in the series the Flyers reached our mark of 28 shots on goal, in regulation time,  on Brodeur. Unfortunetly it was too little too late. Overall the Flyers played more aggressive, won a few more battles and generated a few more chances, but never threatened in the way we’ve become accustomed to. As far as Brodeur, the Devils made the future Hall of Famers job easy throughout the series. Other than Game 1 he was not challenged much. Obviously, he’s too good to not continue to shoot pucks at him and make him work.

Series Impact Result – ADVANTAGE DEVILS

Stay Healthy – Like the Pittsburgh series this is expected to be very physical. The difference is that you won’t see the lack of discipline that you saw from the Penguins. The Flyers will be getting a healthy Nick Grossman back for Game 1. This will allow Peter Laviolette to spread the minutes among more defensemen, lightening the ice time of Braydon Coburn, Matt Carle and Kimmo Timonen. Each of these guys played a ton of minutes in the first series. James van Riemsdyk should continue to see more ice time as he gets his legs back under him playing in the last two games of the Pittsburgh series.

Another key addition to the Flyers lineup could be defenseman Andrej Mesazaros. There’s an outside chance that Mesazaros could play later in the series.

Result:  The Flyers entered the game as healthy as you can at this point in the season.  Sean Couturier saw his regular amount of ice time, although he didn’t spend as much time on the penalty kill as he normally does after his injury in Game 3. Andreas Mesazaros made his long awaited return, logging 19:26 seconds of ice time, and unfortunately, it wasn’t pretty. Mesazaros looked slow against the fast Devils and continually turned the puck over. Granted this was a difficult situation to return to the lineup and be expected to be a major contributor after sitting out for such a long period of time but Meszaros did not answer the call.

Series Impact Result – NONE

Special Teams – The Flyers special team work in Round 1 was devastating. They scored on 11 of 23 power play opportunities, a staggering 47.8%. They also added 3 shorthanded goals. The Penguins had no idea how to defense the Flyers special teams. We don’t expect them to maintain that pace against the Devils; however, we do expect them to be good again in Round 2. The Flyers have so many weapons, regardless of which group is on the ice, they will pressure the Devils throughout the series. The Devils scored 15 shorthanded goals during the regular season, while the Flyers had 6, so the Flyers cannot be reckless.

On defense, the Flyers must stay disciplined and out of the penalty box. The Devils have goal scorers. Ilya Kovalchuk led the Devils with 10 power play goals during the regular season, while David Clarkson and Patrik Elias added 8 each. Zach Parisi added 7. If the Flyers are shorthanded more than 3 times a game they will allow the Devils to stay in the series.

Result: The Flyers had only one power play opportunity in the game and only three in the last two games. The Devils continued to play well-disciplined, solid hockey. As we said throughout the series, the Flyers needed to win the series in 5-on-5 situations and they couldn’t do it. For the series the Flyers were 3-19 on the power play, 15.8%.

Defensively, the Flyers were called for 4 minor penalties and the Devils converted one of them, that ended the season, at the 15:00 mark of the 3rd period when Kovalchuk rifled a shot passed Bryzgalov. The Flyers had survived two 2nd period penalties on Hartnell and Zac Rinaldo but couldn’t overcome the stupid holding penaly by van Reismdyk. The Flyers were fighting for their life, trailing only 2-1 with 5:00 remaining in the game, when JVR grabbed a Devil while on the way to the bench for no reason and then looked confused that the penalty was called. It was a stupid play and the resuting power play goal ended any chance that the Flyers had. The Devils finished the series 4-18 on the power play, 22.2%.

Series Impact Result – ADVANTAGE DEVILS

Full Team Participation – The Flyers had 13 different players score goals in the Pittsburgh series. They were led by Claude Giroux with 6 and Danny Briere with 5. They also had 15 players on the score sheet with assists. Giroux led the way with 8, Jaromir Jagr added 6 and Jakub Voracek added 5. What these numbers indicate is contributions from every member of the team, regardless of the line they were playing on or what defensive pairing they were in. Only Eric Wellwood and Andres Lilja played in all six games and didn’t get credited with a point, however, both provided significant contributors.

Result:  The Flyers came out and played hard but again had no answers for the Devils. Rinaldo provided some much needed energy, although, it was just a matter of time until he was called for a penalty. He led the team with 6 hits in only 8:43 of ice team. The lose of Giroux may have hurt as far as needing a big playmaker, however, he was pretty much a non-factor throughout the series. Overall the Flyers had 8 players contribute goals. Briere was the leader with 3 and Giroux with 2. They also had 12 different players contribute assists with Vorucek leading the team with 3.

Series Impact Result – ADVANTAGE DEVILS

Ilya Bryzgalov –  Bryzgalov is not as bad as he looked at times in the Pittsburgh series. When the Flyers tightened their game Bryz played well. The Flyers are good enough on offense that Bryz doesn’t have to be tremendous every night; he just needs to be good. The Flyers won’t face an offensive team like the Penguins again in the East and Bryz’s game will improve accordingly. What the Flyers cannot afford is a meltdown by Bryz. If the Flyers will play tight, solid defense from the start of this series Bryz will play well.

Result: After getting hit with 31 shots in Game 3, Bryz faced 43 more in Game 4 and another 30 in Game 5, 23 in the first two periods. Bryz played well overall, although his huge blunder that allowed David Clarkson’s unassisted goal, proved to be the game winner. A monumental error! For the entire series Bryz was the Flyers best player. If he hadn’t played so well, most of the time, the series would’ve been even uglier than it was. Not only would the Flyers have not scored much they would’ve been blown out on the other end. Bryz still has a lot of work ahead of him in order to be the consistent goaltender the Flyers need to win the cup.

Series Impact Result – ADVANTAGE DEVILS

Prediction – Well our prediction was dead wrong. I would’ve never thought that any team could dominate the Flyers over a series the way the Devils did. The Devils beat them in every phase of the game. Hats off to them! The Flyers lacked continuity in every game. Their lines never seemed to mesh and their defensive pairings struggled the entire series with turnovers and getting the puck out of the zone. There was never a game where the team was in cinque and passing from tape-to-tape. The passes always seemed a little ahead or a little behind or jumped over somebody’s stick rather than being controlled. The most disappointing part of the series is that the Flyers either never adjusted or the Devils were just that good. That falls on Laviolette. He’s an intense guy and a tireless worker as a head coach but he didn’t get the job done in this series. When you’re team gets beat the same way night after night as the head coach you must figure out a way to adjuest, that didn’t happen.

There’s an old saying attributed to Joe Paterno that says, “you’re never as good as you think you are when you win and you’re never as bad as you think you are when you lose”. Thatpretty much sums up the Flyers two playoff series. Hopes were so high after the Pittsburgh series that the Flyers were so good and so low after this series because they played so bad. In reality they’re probably somewhere in the middle.

So until next season – “GOOD NIGHT and GOOD HOCKEY”…….Gene Hart

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“View from the Philly Pressbox” – Flyers-Devils, Game 4

In Philadelphia Flyers on May 7, 2012 at 7:15 pm

In this addition of the “View from the Philly Pressbox” we take a look at Game 4 of the Round 2 matchup between the Flyers and the New Jersey Devils in the “Chase for Lord Stanley’s Cup”. In our preview we identified our keys to the series. We will review and analyze these keys and how they affected the outcome of the game.

Following are the keys for the Flyers to win this series:

  • ·        Shoot the puck at Martin Brodeur, minimum 28 shots per game.
  • ·        Stay Healthy
  • ·        Special Teams
  • ·        Full team participation
  • ·        Ilya Bryzgalov

Shoot the puck at Martin Brodeur, minimum 28 shots per game – We were going to break this key point in to three separate points. The Flyers must shoot the puck at the future Hall of Famer, Brodeur. They cannot afford in get in to tight checking, close games with 15-20 shots per game or Brodeur can steal the series. The Devils have been very successful playing this style of hockey for years. The Flyers need to control the pace of the game by working end-to-end and getting the lead early in the games forcing the Devils out of their system. If the Flyers fall behind in the series as they did in Round 1, and throughout most of the season, they could find themselves in trouble. Get out of “the room” quick, and at full speed, and the Flyers will be in control.

Result: The Flyers offensive, well and defensive, effort in Game 4 was an embarrassment. They managed only 22 total shots on Brodeur, 7 in the 1st period, 5 in the 2nd period and 10 in the 3rd period. The Flyers not only continued to struggle against the Devils tight checking, they actually seemed to have gotten worse. They couldn’t get the puck out of their own zone to create offensive chances and when they did they were being beaten along the boards on a continuous basis. Several Flyers appeared to get out muscled on a regular basis, one being Eric Gustaffson. He has been pushed around in the last two games in a bad way. Not to single out the rookie, Brayden Coburn, Matt Carle, Nick Grossman and Kimmo Timonen all had their problems with turnovers. Honestly, it looked like the Devils were on the power play the entire game. The Flyers have only managed 28 shots in a game in this series one time in regulation, Game 1, and they won the game. Martin Brodeur may be the greatest goalie to have ever played the game and you won’t beat him, even at 40 years old if you don’t consistently put pressure on him by shooting the puck.

Stay Healthy – Like the Pittsburgh series this is expected to be very physical. The difference is that you won’t see the lack of discipline that you saw from the Penguins. The Flyers will be getting a healthy Nick Grossman back for Game 1. This will allow Peter Laviolette to spread the minutes among more defensemen, lightening the ice time of Braydon Coburn, Matt Carle and Kimmo Timonen. Each of these guys played a ton of minutes in the first series. James van Riemsdyk should continue to see more ice time as he gets his legs back under him playing in the last two games of the Pittsburgh series.

Another key addition to the Flyers lineup could be defenseman Andrej Mesazaros. There’s an outside chance that Mesazaros could play later in the series.

Result:  Sean Couturier was deemed ready to go after the morning skate. This appeared to be good news for the Flyers especially in the penalty kill area. As it turned out Couturier saw only 7:08 of total ice time for the game. Only Eric Wellwood played less. If Couturier couldn’t go he shouldn’t have played. If he could go he should’ve been on the ice more. Max Talbot, Claude Giroux and Matt Read were the forwards used mostly on the penalty kill and they did a nice job with Giroux scoring with the assist from Talbot.

There was still no Andreas Mesazaros siting. With possibly only one game left in the series it may be best not to risk Mesazaros at all during this series.

Special Teams – The Flyers special team work in Round 1 was devastating. They scored on 11 of 23 power play opportunities, a staggering 47.8%. They also added 3 shorthanded goals. The Penguins had no idea how to defense the Flyers special teams. We don’t expect them to maintain that pace against the Devils; however, we do expect them to be good again in Round 2. The Flyers have so many weapons, regardless of which group is on the ice, they will pressure the Devils throughout the series. The Devils scored 15 shorthanded goals during the regular season, while the Flyers had 6, so the Flyers cannot be reckless.

On defense, the Flyers must stay disciplined and out of the penalty box. The Devils have goal scorers. Ilya Kovalchuk led the Devils with 10 power play goals during the regular season, while David Clarkson and Patrik Elias added 8 each. Zach Parisi added 7. If the Flyers are shorthanded more than 3 times a game they will allow the Devils to stay in the series.

Result: The Flyers only had two power play opportunities and scored on one of them, Scott Hartnell from Giroux and Timonen for the first goal of the game. The Devils would not allow themselves to be baited in to penalties while playing well-disciplined, solid hockey. The Flyers relied heavily on the power play in the run-and-shoot series with the Penguins but the Devils would have none of that. To beat the Devils it needed to be done 5 on 5 and the Flyers have not been up to the task. The 1-2 power play in Game 4 makes the Flyers 3-18, 16.7%.

Defensively, the Flyers frustration and lack of discipline made them look like the Penguins. The goalie interference against Hartnell was a weak call, at best. The Giroux penalty, for hitting Danius Zubrus with a deliberate shot to the head, was uncalled for, and has resulted in a one game suspension. It’s the same garbage that Flyer fans got all over the Penguins for. Giroux is much to good of a player to resort to that. Overall, the Flyers were called for 5 minor penalties with Petr Sykora converting one of them, at the 15:14 mark of the 1st period, that brought the Devils, and their fans, back in to the game. The last Flyers penalty on Timonen with only 3:36 remaining in the game and trailing by a goal was another crusher. It was nothing more than a tired penalty by Timonen, who got beat and had to hang on and hope the referee didn’t make the call. He did. The Flyers could not afford to be shorthanded as the game clock was running down.  The Devils are now 3-14 on the power play, 21.4%. At the end of the night, being shorthanded 5 times against a team that commits just 2 penalties will get you beat.

Full Team Participation – The Flyers had 13 different players score goals in the Pittsburgh series. They were led by Claude Giroux with 6 and Danny Briere with 5. They also had 15 players on the score sheet with assists. Giroux led the way with 8, Jaromir Jagr added 6 and Jakub Voracek added 5. What these numbers indicate is contributions from every member of the team, regardless of the line they were playing on or what defensive pairing they were in. Only Eric Wellwood and Andres Lilja played in all six games and didn’t get credited with a point, however, both provided significant contributors.

Result:  The Flyers are in big trouble. Their overall work ethic, hustle and determination are being questioned. That is the ultimate insult to an athlete. We don’t think that the hustle is a problem as much as not winning any battles. The Devils seem to always have five players in the Flyers offensive zone against three Flyers and when the puck goes back to the blue line the Flyers defense is retreating rather than forcing the play back in to the offensive zone. The Devils are breaking out and creating odd man rushes against the two defensemen. There seems to be a great deal of uncertainty among the defensemen on what to do, push forward or drop back. As we stated after Game 3, we’re not big on constant changing and mixing up of the lines looking for something that will click. Although no one has been a standout the lack of continuity seems to be hurting the Flyers.

Ilya Bryzgalov –  Bryzgalov is not as bad as he looked at times in the Pittsburgh series. When the Flyers tightened their game Bryz played well. The Flyers are good enough on offense that Bryz doesn’t have to be tremendous every night; he just needs to be good. The Flyers won’t face an offensive team like the Penguins again in the East and Bryz’s game will improve accordingly. What the Flyers cannot afford is a meltdown by Bryz. If the Flyers will play tight, solid defense from the start of this series Bryz will play well.

Result: After getting hit with 31 shots in Game 3, Bryz faced 43 more in Game 4. The Devils came out flying again and fired 16 shots in the 1st period and 16 more in the 2nd. Bryz kept the Flyers in the game with the Devils leading just 3-2 after two periods but being out shot 32-12. Bryz continued to hold down the fort in the 3rd period while facing another 11 shots without giving up a goal. Due to Bryzgalov’s play the Flyers actually had a chance to tie the game, and possibly win it, until Zubrus scored his empty net goal with :45 remaining in the game. Bryzgalov takes none of the blame for this lose, Without him playing as well as he did the Devils could’ve won this one by a touchdown.

Prediction – Well, we will never pick the Flyers to lose until the last second ticks off the clock of the final game but it sure doesn’t look good. The one game suspension to Giroux will only make the upward climb even more difficult.  Other than the play of Bryzgalov there isn’t much good to say about this series. We expected a much better overall effort from the Flyers. We expected to see game by game improvements to attack and counterattack the opposition and we haven’t seen any of that. Have the Flyers been out coached or just outplayed, or both? We expected another great series from Giroux and we haven’t seen much.

To say we’re disappointed is putting it mildly. We have to take our hats off to the Devils for dominating in every facet of the game and series. With that said, the series is not over and we’ll get to see what this Flyer team is really made of. Will they bounce back and win Game 5 to play another day or will they come out and be frustrated goons running at players and spending the game in the penalty box?

Our prediction is still that the Flyers will win the series in seven games. Am I dreaming?

 “GOOD NIGHT and GOOD HOCKEY”…….Gene Hart

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“View from the Philly Pressbox” – Flyers-Devils, Game 3

In Philadelphia Flyers on May 6, 2012 at 10:17 am

In this addition of the “View from the Philly Pressbox” we take a look at Game 3 of the Round 2 matchup between the Flyers and the New Jersey Devils in the “Chase for Lord Stanley’s Cup”. In our preview we identified our keys to the series. We will review and analyze these keys and how they affected the outcome of the game.

Following are the keys for the Flyers to win this series:

  • ·        Shoot the puck at Martin Brodeur, minimum 28 shots per game.
  • ·        Stay Healthy
  • ·        Special Teams
  • ·        Full team participation
  • ·        Ilya Bryzgalov

Shoot the puck at Martin Brodeur, minimum 28 shots per game – We were going to break this key point in to three separate points. The Flyers must shoot the puck at the future Hall of Famer, Brodeur. They cannot afford in get in to tight checking, close games with 15-20 shots per game or Brodeur can steal the series. The Devils have been very successful playing this style of hockey for years. The Flyers need to control the pace of the game by working end-to-end and getting the lead early in the games forcing the Devils out of their system. If the Flyers fall behind in the series as they did in Round 1, and throughout most of the season, they could find themselves in trouble. Get out of “the room” quick, and at full speed, and the Flyers will be in control.

Result: The Flyers  continue to struggle against the Devils tight checking. They are being beatin in the battles along the boards on a continuous basis, as a result they are not getting the shots on Brodeur. In Game 3, the Flyers managed 28 shots, but it took them nearly four periods to get them. At the end of regulation they had only 22 shots, with just 6 coming in the 3rd period when they needed an offensive push. Obviously, this isn’t good enough  to beat Brodeur. Lastly, the Flyers seem to have reverted back to the old “dump and chase” style of years gone by. Even when they control the puck in their own zone they’re able to eat up time but not generate shots. Credit goes to the Devils defense and shot blocking, however, for the Flyers to win this series they need to solve the Devils and get their shots on Brodeur. 

Stay Healthy – Like the Pittsburgh series this is expected to be very physical. The difference is that you won’t see the lack of discipline that you saw from the Penguins. The Flyers will be getting a healthy Nick Grossman back for Game 1. This will allow Peter Laviolette to spread the minutes among more defensemen, lightening the ice time of Braydon Coburn, Matt Carle and Kimmo Timonen. Each of these guys played a ton of minutes in the first series. James van Riemsdyk should continue to see more ice time as he gets his legs back under him playing in the last two games of the Pittsburgh series.

Another key addition to the Flyers lineup could be defenseman Andrej Mesazaros. There’s an outside chance that Mesazaros could play later in the series.

Result:  We have waited to post this article to provide the latest update on Sean Couturier, and it doesn’t look good. As of Sunday morning it seems doubtful that the standout, rookie center of the checking line, will not be ready to go. This will be a huge lose for the Flyers. Couturier had done a good job on Ilya Kovalchuk in the first two games. Once Couturier left Game 3, Kovulchuk responded with a goal and two assists. Couturiers replacement will likely be the penalty machine, Zac Rinaldo. Rinaldo brings energy that may help in other areas, but he does not bring a defensive game and cannot hurt the team with needless or over aggressive penalties.

It does not appear that Andreas Mesazaros is ready to play yet, although all indication are he is getting closer to returning. The Flyers have been mum on his return.

Special Teams – The Flyers special team work in Round 1 was devastating. They scored on 11 of 23 power play opportunities, a staggering 47.8%. They also added 3 shorthanded goals. The Penguins had no idea how to defense the Flyers special teams. We don’t expect them to maintain that pace against the Devils; however, we do expect them to be good again in Round 2. The Flyers have so many weapons, regardless of which group is on the ice, they will pressure the Devils throughout the series. The Devils scored 15 shorthanded goals during the regular season, while the Flyers had 6, so the Flyers cannot be reckless.

On defense, the Flyers must stay disciplined and out of the penalty box. The Devils have goal scorers. Ilya Kovalchuk led the Devils with 10 power play goals during the regular season, while David Clarkson and Patrik Elias added 8 each. Zach Parisi added 7. If the Flyers are shorthanded more than 3 times a game they will allow the Devils to stay in the series.

Result: The Flyers were 1-5 on the power play in Game 3 and are now 2-16 for the series. The Flyers brought a scorching hot power play in to this series and now that strength has become a weakness. The Flyers did get on the board first with a Brayden Shenn power play goal at 6:08 of the 1st period with assists to Briere and Jagr. The Flyers had two golden power play opportunities in overtime but couldn’t get the job done. Obviously, to extend the series the Flyers need to straighten out the power play, and quick.

Defensively, the Flyers did a great job of staying out of the penalty box. They were only whistled for two minor penalties. Unfortunetly, one of those led to a power play goal by Patrik Elias that tied the score 1-1 in the 1st period, 20 seconds later Kovalchuk scored and the entire complexion of the game changed. The Devils are now 2-9 on the power play. Overall, the Flyers are doing a good job in this area.

Full Team Participation – The Flyers had 13 different players score goals in the Pittsburgh series. They were led by Claude Giroux with 6 and Danny Briere with 5. They also had 15 players on the score sheet with assists. Giroux led the way with 8, Jaromir Jagr added 6 and Jakub Voracek added 5. What these numbers indicate is contributions from every member of the team, regardless of the line they were playing on or what defensive pairing they were in. Only Eric Wellwood and Andres Lilja played in all six games and didn’t get credited with a point, however, both provided significant contributors.

Result:  The Flyers are now struggling to get any participation  they seem out of cinque in nearly all facets of the game. Lavy has made the decision to continue to change and mix up his lines looking for something that will click. We aren’t a believer in this unless nothing else works. The Flyers seem to be trying to find match ups with the Devils instead of forcing the Devils to find match ups for the Flyers. The lack of continuity seems to be hurting the Flyers.

Ilya Bryzgalov –  Bryzgalov is not as bad as he looked at times in the Pittsburgh series. When the Flyers tightened their game Bryz played well. The Flyers are good enough on offense that Bryz doesn’t have to be tremendous every night; he just needs to be good. The Flyers won’t face an offensive team like the Penguins again in the East and Bryz’s game will improve accordingly. What the Flyers cannot afford is a meltdown by Bryz. If the Flyers will play tight, solid defense from the start of this series Bryz will play well.

Result: Bryzgalov played well in Game 3. He faced 31 shots in all, 1 in the 1st period when the Flyers were on their heels and he held his ground. The power play goal by Elias and Kovalchuk being left alone coming down the slot were unstoppable. Entering the series it seemed that Bryzgalov’s inconsistent play would be critical, as it’s turned out the Flyers getting beat in battles on the boards has been the story of series. Bryz may still need to steal a game before the series is over.  

Prediction – Obviously we were not right on our prediction of the Flyers in 5 games. We do feel they must accomplish the keys that were identified in order to win. Our biggest surprise in the series is the Flyers inability to win battles. Toughness has always been a Flyers trademark and they need to get it back. They must get more shots on Brodeur if they’re to win this series. We’re believers that Game 3 is alway the most critical game of a series because it’s often the swing game as this one was. Advantage Devils. For the Flyers, obviously, Game 4 is the “must” game.  Our feeling is that the Flyers will respond with a big Game 4 that will put them back even and gain the home ice advantage back.

It was easy to think the Flyers were going to dominate this series after the offensive fireworks in the Pittsburgh series. We can all agree that the Flyers have not adjusted to this tight checking series very quickly, yet Game 3 could’ve gone either way and the Flyers could very well be ahead 2-1 rather than behind 2-1. The Flyers must dictate the pace of the game and get more than a one goal lead that they can hold on to. Lastly, if Couturier can not go they will need someone, likely Read or Giroux, to step up and shutdown  Kovalcuk. We expect big efforts from the veteran leaders, Briere, Hartnell, Jagr, Timonen and Coburn tonight and for the Flyers to win.

Our prediction is still that the Flyers will win the series but it will take seven games with none more important than tonight.

 

“GOOD NIGHT and GOOD HOCKEY”…….Gene Hart

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“View from the Philly Pressbox” – Flyers – Penguins Game 2

In Philadelphia Flyers on April 14, 2012 at 8:34 pm

In today’s “View from the Philly Pressbox” we look at the outcome of Game 2 of the 1st Round series between the Flyers and the Penguins. The Flyers now lead the series 2-0 with a fantastic 8-5 victory at the Consol Energy Center.

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. Obviously, the Flyers didn’t get our post, AGAIN! They came out and fell behind just 15 seconds in to the game. That first goal, as well as the Flyers strategy, is very confusing to me. The Flyers didn’t have the opening line matchup they wanted with the Sidney Crosby line so as soon as the puck was dropped all 5 Flyers headed to the bench for a full line change. Call it bad luck or fast hockey but before the Flyers could get their new group on the ice and organized Crosby was flying and dealt the first blow, and again the Flyers had to come from behind. The opinion here is that these are professional players and not having the matchup you want can wait until you can clear the puck and get an organized line change. This was ridiculous. It was a tactical error by Peter Laviolette and he got burned. Overall, the Flyers played much better in the 1st period but fell behind 2-0 before getting a beautiful shorthanded goal from Max Talbot, at 12:44. Talbot followed a Claude Giroux shot and banged in the rebound to make it 2-1. The Flyers had their skates under them, and looked like they were in pretty shape before giving up would looked like a back breaking goal by Defenseman Paul Martin at the 19:42 mark. Again, the Flyers went to the break down 3-1. We know the end result turned out the Flyers way, however, we stick to our original keys and say the Flyers cannot continue to fall behind early in this series or in any other. It’s not the position they need to be in game-in and game-out or it will catch up to them.

Ilya Bryzgalov – Bryzgalov was tremendous! He gets our #1 star of the game even though he gave up 5 goals and there were two hat tricks. He only stopped 23 of 28 shots but like we stated he was tremendous. Bryz made at least three saves that could’ve/should’ve been goals. At one point the game could’ve been 6-1 Pittsburgh if not for Bryz. The Flyers made a decision to open the vault to sign Bryzgalov in the off season and it surely paid off last night. Hot goalies win playoff series and Stanley Cups and Bryz is a hot goalie.

Stay Healthy – This was a physical hockey game that appeared to favor the Penguins. The hit numbers were equal but the center ice hits and bigger hits came from Pittsburgh although the Flyers dished out their fair share of hits as well. With that said, the Flyers are still healthy and ready for Game 3.

Staying out of the penalty box will be critical. The Flyers were called for five minor penalties in the game and gave up two goals. That’s too many! Although you can’t depend on it every night the Flyers turned the shorthanded situation to their advantage getting a the shorthanded goal from Talbot in the 1st period and another from Giroux that tied the score 3-3 at 11:04 of the 2nd period. The Penguins were only called for three penalties and the Flyers turned one of them in to Giroux’s first goal of the game. The two “shorties” tend to hide the penalty situation. The Flyers cannot give the Penguins five power play opportunities a game. Special Teams are critical to the playoffs, and the Game 2 advantage, just like Game 1, goes to the Flyers.

After this 2nd game we’ll quote what we said in our series preview and repeated after Game 1. We stated that “for the Flyers to win they need to get contributions from all of their lines. Obviously, the Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Jaromir Jagr line needs to be good. Danny Briere needs to step up as he has in past playoffs. Wayne Simmons, Max Talbot and Jakub Voracek will need to contribute as they have all season. Just as important will be the play of the Flyers rookies, Matt Read, Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn. These rookies have played very well throughout the regular season; however, they need to lift their game to the next level that is playoff hockey!” Again, we hit the nail on the head with that statement. Claude Giroux was tremendous, scoring 3 goals and adding another 3 assists. Talbot added a goal. Jaromir Jagr added the game winning goal. All of the Flyers contributed on both ends of the ice. It’s unfortunate that Bryzgalov was so good because Sean Couturier deserves to be the #1 star as well. The 19 year old Couturier added a hat trick of his own and an assist while shutting down the Penguins 50 goal scorer Evangi Malkin. Malkin did tally two assist but he was never a factor and the reason was Couturier. Couturier delivered one of the big blows of the game by tieing the score 4-4 with a goal with 2.8 seconds remaining in the 2nd period. He stayed with the play until the final whistle and his hustle paid off. Again, it was a total team effort and a well deserved huge win.

Our prediction still hasn’t changed from the Flyers in 6 games. We’ve been right on both games so far. The Flyers are further in the Penguins heads! It will be interesting to see how Pittsburgh responds in Game 3. They could come out with their elimination backs against the wall, play well, and win or they could quit on the season and get ready for golfing. For the Flyers, they need come out of the locker room ready to play, not fall behind again and put their foot on the throat of the Penguins and not let off. Back in the day, when I used to coach, I had a saying when you got a lead on your opponent to “kill the mosquito with an ax.” That’s what the Flyers need to do. However, we feel the Penguins will play well and win Game 3. We hope not but a sweep would be too much to expect.

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

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