First-Round Selections

Okay, I’m a day late, but these picks were made before last night’s games.

East: Rangers in 4; Capitals in 7; Devils in 4; Penguins in 7.
West: Kings in 7; Blues in 6; Hawks in 6; Wings in 7.

Even Strength Offense: D

In the first period, they played classic PPIH. They generated one chance after another. Sid chipped a neat backhander past Sievegalov after a tremendous hardworking shift by his line. Kennedy and Staal collaborated on a two-on-one just four minutes later, and the Pens were off and running. They added a goal by Dupuis after more hard work down low in the final minute to put a nail in the Flyer coffin. Or not. Apparently, they decided they had this game won and would save their energy for Friday. They had 13 shots on goal the first 20 minutes, 15 in the next 42 minutes. Talk about letting a goalie off the hook. Sievegalov could have played in a rocking chair the rest of the game. That was just embarrassing.

Even Strength Defense: D

Same story here. Because of the great zone time in the first, the defensive shortcomings were hidden. But not after that. The Elf potted the Comcast/NBC Flyers’ first goal on an obvious offside that wasn’t called. But that doesn’t excuse the brutal center ice giveaway by AshamVitale that caught both Martin and Orpik out of position. The Pens were still in great shape heading to the third. But Sid screened Fleury AND deflected Briere’s shot past him to make it 3-2. Then came the lovely OT winner where Letang went fishing for the rebound and got nothing but air, allowing Voracek to bang it home.

Power Play: F

Not only did it brutally suck all night, the Flyers gained momentum from their first kill and scored shortly thereafter. The Flyers just pressured the puck all over the ice, and the Pens were totally discombobulated. They rarely managed to set up anything effective, and only mustered 5 shots on goal in 6 minutes of PP time. Looked like the Tampa Bay series all over again, only this time they don’t have the “no Sid or Geno” excuse.

Penalty Kill: F

Talk about a deflating goal. They let Fartsmell toss a cross ice pass that Schenn deflected in because Letang failed to take hi or stop the pass.

Goaltending: C

Fleury was neither good nor bad. He had little chance on the first three goals, but one more huge save on one of those and they win. On the winner, he left a rebound in front and in it went.

Overall: F

Playoff series are built on momentum swings. The team that swings the momentum in their favor usually wins. What are big momentum swingers? Multiple-overtime games come to mind. if you win one of those marathon affairs, you usually win the series. I would put coming back from three-goal deficits in this category, too. You gain all the momentum while demoralizing the opposition. In other words, I do not in the least like the Pens’ chances in this series. You can’t just gag away a lead like that without after effects. Oh, they might win a game or two, but the Flyers are clearly in their heads, having done the same thing to the Pens in the regular season. The Pens’ old problems of center ice giveaways, a pathetic power play, and loose defensive coverage came back to bite them again last night.

And now, the rest of the story…

Sid: C

Two goals and an assist in his first playoff game in two years. oh wait, one of them was a cool deflection past his own goalie.

Geno: D

He was barely noticeable. The Flyers are clearly in his head.

Kris Letang: C

He set up two goals, but his lax defensive zone play was evident on the tying and winning goals.

Paul Martin: G

That’s for gutless. Did you see him on the icing play where Read beat him to the puck? he was so afraid he might get hit that he just daintily stuck his stick in trying to touch the puck. You don’t win Cups with guys like this. In fact, a team with him on it has never even made a conference final. Oh, his line for the night? One hit, one blocked shot. That’s it.

James Neal: F

Totally invisible. Then again, it IS the playoffs.

Minus Machine Update

We start anew

Player This Game Season
MM4 +1 +1
MM7 -1 -1
Non Minus Machines 0 0

Free Candy

He nailed the Elf. Sadly, it was illegal and led to the tying power play goal.

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A guide to the game grades can be found here.