Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Flyers Lose Again; In 0 - 3 Hole

The Flyers dropped a home playoff game last night to the Pens by a score of 4 - 1, going down 0 - 3 against the Atlantic Division champions.

The game resembled less a "new" NHL-style game and looked more like something ripped out of the playbook of the trapping 1995 New Jersey Devils. Once Pittsburgh got the lead, they clogged the neutral zone and the front of the net in such a way that the only threats the Flyers could make from that point, were occasional forays on the rush.

RJ Umberger scored the lone Flyer goal. It was assisted by Vinny Prospal and Danny Briere, who recorded their only points of the series so far.

The first period had the same look and feel of Game 2, where the play was sort of helter skelter and the Pens opened the scoring on the power play (on another questionable Hatcher call) on a lucky bounce off of a skate. The Pens subsequently scored again; this time off of a rush where Marian Hossa was given entirely too much room at the blue line (Lasse Kukkonen) and he whipped a shot past Martin Brion for the 2 - 0 lead.

The Flyers cut the lead in half on Umberger's goal and the game then settled into an "old" style NHL affair. While the Flyers didn't do much offensively in the 2nd period, they didn't give up anything either.

The matter wasn't really settled until midway through the 3rd period, when Steve Downie turned the puck over trying to make a difficult cross-ice pass in traffic. Evgeni Malkin intercepted the puck and drove down the ice. Eventually, the puck ended up on Petr Sykora's stick, who passed to Ryan Malone. Malone backhanded the puck past Biron to go up 2 goals and you could feel the air leave the Wachovia Center from your living room. Marian Hossa added an empty netter to close out the scoring.

Did You Notice?

- This was the second straight game where Downie had a high profile turnover. Why was the fourth line even on the ice at that point of the game? Down one goal midway through the 3rd period in a game where you haven't generated much offense doesn't seem the time to roll your lines.

- Speaking of the forward lines; if the Prospal-Briere-Hartnell line wasn't getting it done, why not switch out the lines at that point? Putting Richards with Briere wouldn't have helped? Really? Being down in the 3rd period of a playoff game sometimes requires some out-of-box thinking that was not evident coming from Coach Stevens last night. Despite his obvious passion as a coach, he seemed content to fall on the sword of his own game plan.

- Nice hit by Hartnell on Jarko Ruutu in the 2nd period. Hartnell has forechecked about as hard as I've seen him forecheck all year.

- The lack of puck moving, skating defensemen was real evident as the game marched along. When the Flyers did manage a cycle in the offensive zone, the Pens had almost no respect for whoever was at the point for the Flyers. The Timonen and Coburn injuries have definitely been telling.

- How was Marian Hossa not one of the game's three stars (Crosby-Fleury-Umberger)? If he had played like that back when Ottawa was making all of their playoff runs, they would have never traded him to Atlanta to begin with.

- It will be interesting on Thursday to see how the fans act at the Wachovia Center. I plan on looking at Thursday not so much as the potential end of the season, but another chance to watch the Flyers. Hopefully, the team AND the fans both show up on Thursday night.

- For someone that is supposed to skate so well, Ryan Parent seems to have little offense in his game. His development will be watched, because he will be in the defensive rotation next year.
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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