To say that the Penguins "powered past" the Flyers in Game 1 is absolutely wrong. Last night was one of those games where "they didn't win it, we lost it." The Flyers certainly can hang in this series based on last night's game. Look at the tape: ALL 4 PENGUINS GOALS resulted from FLYERS TURNOVERS. As I said in my keys for the Flyers to win this series (which can be read here: http://my.hockeybuzz.com/...id=37632&post_id=5259
) the Flyers need to play disciplined hockey, both with respects to penalties and play in their own zone.
The penalty part they handled very well, never really giving Pittsburgh a serious power play opportunity. However the mistakes cost them the game.
1) The Sykora goal was not Modry's fault for anyone looking to kill him. With Malkin cutting down the slot, Modry had to account for him, which left Sykora pretty open on the weak side but close to 60 feet away from Malone and the puck. It's the job of the forwards to get back and pick up that man. Again, especially when playing that line, it requires a 5 MAN defense whether its Modry and Kukkonen out there or Coburn and Hatcher.
2) Marty Biron thinks he can handle the puck a lot better than he actually can. He gets caught too often, as he did last night, trying to do too much with the puck. Keep it simple, let the defense do the rest. And if 2 or more Pens are in after the puck, stay between the pipes.
3) A goal should never be scored with 10 seconds left. That was a soft goal from Biron who should know Malkin will go high. Stick side high is the best place to shoot on Marty and very often its where he gets beat on penalty shots too. Could Upshall have put more mustard on the clear? Maybe. But either way that's a soft goal for Biron.
4) Maybe he thought Malkin was going to the bench after being pasted my Mike Richards, but Randy Jones should know better than to skate up ice and leave someone behind him unattended. Especially one of the most dangerous players in the world.
What does that tell you? That Pittsburgh didn't have their way with the Flyers at all in this game. The Flyers just shot themselves in the foot. Cut down on the turnovers, make sure 5 men out against the Malkin and Crosby lines are sharp defensively, and play smart even if that means simple hockey. Do that, and the Flyers showed they can definitely make this a series.
--Another key for the Flyers was to get traffic in front of Fleury which they didn't really do a great job of. The early power play from the Whitney penalty, it seemed to be a focus. After that, not much. Richards' 2nd goal shows that Fleury isn't great with a lot of bodies in front of him and no one can stop what they can't see. So Hartnell and Knuble doing what they do best at the top of the crease is critical.
--2 shots on goal on the power play all night. Need more than that. I know Pittsburgh has a great penalty kill going and Timmonen was missed quarterbacking that top unit but 2 shots is inexcusable. Fleury especially, and the Pens penalty kill as a whole, hasn't seen firepower the likes of what the Flyers have so far in the playoffs. Get rubber on the net.
--Did the Briere line dress for last night's game? Because they were invisible. Like I said in my last post, the Richards and Carter lines will be busy playing 2-way hockey as Stevens tries to get them out against the Pens top 2 lines. You can't expect much from the 4th liners as much as they hustle and try. That means at even strength the Briere line MUST generate offense for the Flyers. Nice job by Therrien last night putting Crosby's line out there when Briere was on the ice, but that line has to find a way to get going.
--Don't panic because Biron gave up 4 goals last night. The Flyers lost the first games of their other series as well, giving up 5 and 4 goals, respectively. He had some brain farts last night. I think he can settle in for Game 2.
--The Flyers were dead in the 3rd period. Sure they had let in some deflating goals and the Pens play very well defensively with the lead, but a little pressure down the stretch would have been nice. Nice to see that frustration didn't really boil over until the very end of the game. While it was physical throughout, the game wasn't dirty. That is better off for the Flyers anyway. No sense changing the line-up. Riley Cote will only sit in the box and lose a fight to Laraque anyway.
Correct the mistakes in time for Sunday night and the Flyers will get that split in Pittsburgh that would greatly help their chances in the series.
Mike Mreczko is the Flyers Reporter for 950 ESPN Philadelphia. Email questions or comments to [email][email protected]
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