Game Grades: Game 7 vs Philadelphia
The Penguins and the Flyers are on opposite ends of the state, and they are also on opposite ends of the standings in the Metropolitan Division. The Flyers were coming into this game desperate. But the Pens knew that Philly has six days in between this game and their next, and handing them another loss could leave the Flyers reeling. Here’s how things shook down.
EVEN-STRENGTH OFFENSE: A
They had 29 shots through the first two periods and had been firing pucks with frequency. Then they got two goals on six shots in the 3rd. Sure, one was an empty net goal, but it was just that kind of game where goals went in when the shots were less frequent. But the top two lines created a lot of chances and had a lot of sustained pressure throughout.
EVEN-STRENGTH DEFENSE: A
The Flyers went almost the entire 2nd period with only two shots before getting a power play at the end of the period. The Flyers had a few stretches of offense at the end of the 1st and in the 3rd, but most of Philly’s heavy pressure came on their power play. Their sticks were active tonight and broke up a lot of chances, which was a difference-maker in the game.
POWER PLAY: B-
No goals tonight, but they had quite a few good looks at the net and had a good structure throughout. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are starting to look more confident and in control on that top unit, which can only mean good things for the power play going forward.
PENALTY KILL: A-
They did give up a goal with two seconds left in the second period, which could have spurned the Flyers to getting back in the game. Then the Pens take two bad penalties to start the 3rd. That was time for the PK to redeem itself for giving up a late goal. And they came up big in those moments
The lone goal against Marc-Andre Fleury tonight was a tip in front on a power play. Aside from that, in the 1st and 3rd periods, the Flyers had several good looks that required Fleury to come up with some huge saves. The save on Wayne Simmonds in front where he gloved the puck and robbed him was outstanding. The all-business MAF has been stellar so far.
FINAL GRADE: A
A win over the Flyers always deserves and “A,” but the Pens earned the grade as well. They were the better team tonight. Even after the Flyers had stretches where they had some puck possession, the Pens would weather the storm and take control of the game for longer and better stretches. Big saves from Fleury, and getting the first two goals after having so much puck possession, put the game in their hands. They finished well and didn’t give the Flyers much at even strength.
AND FOR THE REST…
EVGENI MALKIN: A
His line was the best all night. They seemed to give the team energy every time they were on the ice and generated a lot of great chances. But Geno’s night was defined by the shift in the 2nd where he was in on two strips of the puck at the Flyers’ blue line before getting the puck to Jussi Jokinen for the opening tally. The goal at the end was well-deserved
JUSSI JOKINEN: A
Looked good all night, and what a ripper on that first one.
SIDNEY CROSBY: A
He had two points tonight. He just makes that team and city despise him. It’s pretty great.
MATT NISKANEN/BROOKS ORPIK: A-
Both of these guys were tough on the Flyers and played great, physical defense. Niskanen added six shots on goal, and Orpik blocked or deflected numerous pucks. So why the “A-“? They both took bad penalties at the start of the 3rd period, which could have been the opening Philly needed to get back in the game. Fortunately, the PK came to the rescue.
OLLI MAATTA: A
He continues to play NHL hockey. He had a few looks at the net, made some perfect passes out of the zone and directed traffic. He needs to be a regular on this team, period. No exceptions.
CLAUDE GIROUX: D-
No “F” because he got a point on their only goal. But after being touted as potentially the best player in the game, it’s easy to see that he is not playing anywhere close to the level of play prior to the lockout. And prior to his…golfing accident. That’s hard not to read and chuckle a little still.
STEVE MASON: B
In spite of the loss, he kept them in the game as long as he could. The Pens had target practice in the 2nd and on their four power plays. But the team in front of him was not as good as the team in white. And the goalie at the other end was better.
Tanner Glass hit everything that moved tonight. He was easily the most physical guy in white tonight. 10 hits in the game…wow.
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