Pens/Flyers Game 4 Grades
Even Strength Offense: A
The Pens broke out in a huge way last night. They got the puck up the ice and just kept firing shots at the Philly sieves. They ended up with 6 goals on the night. Geno and Staal had two each, and Sid one. That’s what you call your stars stepping up under pressure. They just kept the pressure on the Flyers the first two periods until the game was out of hand. They weren’t making silly cross-ice passes that caused the puck t go the other way. They just played smart hockey and managed to find holes in Philly’s leaky defense all night long.
Even Strength Defense: A
They allowed no goals at even strength. Gone were the horrible center-ice giveaways that lead to odd man breaks. Thus the odd man breaks were almost totally eliminated. They were much more sound in their own end, and kept the Flyers to the outside all game long. Maybe it just took getting Martin off the ice for things to jell.
Power Play: A
The power play was absolutely dominant. it was predicated on just getting shots to the net against Sievegalov. And it worked to perfection. They set up Letang and Niskanen for goals from the left circle. Staal put one home in front, and Sullivan notched one on a breakout. The power play basically put this game away with three straight goals in the second period when the Flyers became totally unglued.
Penalty Kill: D
This is one part of their game that wasn’t good. They left Giroux all alone in front, they allowed a Timonen one timer, and a wide open shot by Voracek. However…
Fleury was awful in the first, as the first two goals leaked through him. it looked to be another long night. But then he shut the door the rest of the way. he even made several good stops to keep Philly from getting any hope at all. We can only hop that his confidence will grow with the solid last two periods.
This was just what the Pens needed. A total momentum changer. It’s one ting to win Game 4, it’s another to just totally dominate AND beat up both of their sieves in the process. It’s going to be a long tough uphill climb, but you have to start somewhere. And what a way to start! In the first period, it was more of the same, with a total lack of discipline that gave Philly five power plays and three goals. But they somehow scratched out a lead after all that, and they just rolled from there. The power play came alive in the second period. They stayed disciplined and focused in the face of idiocy from Zac Rinaldo.
And now, the rest of the story…
He was focused like a laser last night. His pass to set up Niskanen’s power play marker was a thing of beauty.
Ditto, as he came out of his funk. His goal right after the Pixie had scored was huge, as it prevented the tide from going in the Flyers’ direction.
Kris Letang: A
He was absolutely flying out there, at both ends of the ice.
Jordan Staal: A
We they needed him most, he came up huge. two kind of dirty goals in front, then a rocket on a two-on-one.
Steve Sullivan: A
The fact is, the power play just works better with him at the point. AS for his goal, that’s the hardest I’ve seen him shoot a puck all year.
Matt Niskanen: W
For Warrior. You know he’s not 100 percent, but he’s out there gutting it out. Well, not just gutting it out, but playing a key role.
Hey, I’ve been ripping on Bylsma the past few days, so I feel obliged to credit him for last night. I can’t really say if he made any tactical adjustments, but he kept the team together in the face of adversity. After all the crap that had happened in the first three games, and missing all those players, this team could have folded its tents and gone home. They didn’t. And at least some of that goes back to the coach who kept them focused and believing.
Icehole of the Game
Zac Rinaldo played. Need I say more? No, but I will. This guy is nothing but a less-talented Dan Carcillo. His cross-checks on a prone and already injured Michalek were despicable. He needs to be hearing from Brendan Shanahan. Although I hope he doesn’t get suspended because him being dressed gives the Pens a better shot at winning.
Anyone who wasn’t expecting this game to be called tight doesn’t follow the NHL very closely. You just knew Wes McCauley and Chris Lee would come out calling every little thing, and that’s what they did. Okay, maybe a couple calls were ticky-tack, but I will take it. They had to get this series under control. They did a great job at the end by giving Rinaldo enough minutes to banish him. You can question them doing the same thing to Cooke, but, hey, it gives him some rest for tomorrow night. I rarely say this, but great job, guys.
It had to be Sullivan totally blowing that slapper past BOB.
I’m on Twitter.
A guide to the game grades can be found here.