Pens at Flyers Grades
Another division game, another loss.
The Pens generated very little pressure at even strength, and that resulted in only one even-strength goal. They improved on their woeful 10 ES shot performance against the Caps by peppering Martin Biron with an astounding 16. Folks, that ain’t gonna get it done. With Sid out, this team has no offense at all. All you have to do is look at the lines to see that only the top line has any realistic chance of scoring. All the others are filled with grinders and minor-leaguers. They aren’t skilled enough to generate transition chances, nor are they able to do much on the forecheck, save for an occasional shift here or there. Again last night, the only even strength goal was by Malkin, at the end of a great shift where they totally bottled the Flyers up in their own end. Eventually Sykora and Geno teamed up to walk down the slot and Malkin snuck a backhander through Biron’s five-hole. But that was it. They generated only the rarest of pressure the rest of the night.
They let the Flyers crash the crease all night long with impunity. As usual, the Penguin defensemen just cowered under a strong down-low attack. Once again, they gave up over 30 shots. Again, they just can’t compete with teams that charge the net hard and work down low. Looked just like the playoff series against Ottawa. The first goal was kind of a bad bounce right to Penguin killer RJ Umberger, but he was left wide open off the draw. Scuderi had him, but let him get free. Next one, right after a power play, Gonchar hands them the puck on a silver platter, and they have an eternity in front to pass it back and forth before Randy Jones scored. On the winner, the aforementioned Gonchar just let Jeff Carter waltz into the zone untouched. He then throws it into the crease, where Knuble forces it in. Just classic Gonchar and Scuderi. Ones gets turned inside out while the other gets outmuscled in front.
Power play: A
The power play looked good, though the striped buffoons somehow managed to spot only two infractions on the Flyers all night. More on that later. Then Pens really only had one full power play all night, as they negated the other with a good penalty by Malone for running Biron. But they converted on it with some crisp passing and good rotation that led to a Gonchar bomb from the center point that Sykora deflected. A fairly simple play where they didn’t hesitate to get the puck on the net. I will say it until I’m blue in the face—that’s how you score power play goals in this league. That was a classic power play. Too bad they weren’t given more chances.
Penalty kill: C
They gave up one power play goal and another right after a power play. The biggest failure they had was an inability to get the puck out of the zone when they had a chance. On numerous occasions, they had what should have been easy clears and failed to get it out. It let the Flyers exert much pressure on most of their power plays. But they also generated some good shorthanded chances, and finally popped one in when Staal and Malone broke out on a 2-on-0 and then Whitney put home the Downie, er, garbage goal.
We witnessed last night the coming down to earth of Ty Conklin. He played as if he was channeling Marc Andre Fleury. He mishandled the puck on a number of occasions. He had several miscommunications with defensemen where they ran into each other. He was popping out rebounds all over the place. He was generally looking as unsound and jittery as Fleury usually does. He did not provide a steadying influence. He did not look calm and in control. Were it not for at least three goal posts, the score might have been about as lopsided as the last time these teams met. For those counting. Conklin has now allowed 7 goals in four periods of play against the Flyers for a sparkling 5.25 GAA. Let’s just hope this game was an aberration, or this team is in serious trouble the next two months. That said, it’s hard to blame him for too much. He had no chance on the first goal, no chance on the second goal, no chance on the third goal. Only the winner was a bit questionable, but what could he even do there, when Knuble was allowed to basically push the puck into the net?
Pens goaltending since Fleury went down: 14-6-2, 2.36 GAA, .926 save percentage (Conklin is 10-2-2, 1.80, .946).
They gave it their all the final two periods. But the sad fact is, they just don’t have the guns right now to beat the top teams. They can play hard and play well and it still isn’t enough. They are just too undermanned. They need to play a tight defensive game, but they seem incapable of doing that. They continue to give up way too many shots. They played a lousy first period, when, as Errey said, “they didn’t hit, they didn’t skate, they didn’t shoot.” That’s the hat trick right there. They came alive a bit as the game went on but were still unable to be productive at even strength. They just have nobody outside Malkin and Sykora that will score for them on a consistent basis.
And now, the rest of the story…
Rob Scuderi: F
Well, he IS saddled with Gonchar, and that is probably starting to wear on him. Last night, this pairing was on for every Flyer goal. Scuderi was to blame for the first one, and partially for the third one.
Sergei Gonchar: F
He was in playoff form last night. He had a couple brutal giveaways where he saw a Flyer coming and just got rid of the puck right onto a Flyer’s stick. Ah, yes, that’s the playoff Sarge I have come to know and love. I know Therrien likes to use him against the other team’s top guys, but this is why they will never be a good defensive team. He is incapable of filling that role when the pressure gets turned up.
John Stevens: F
Or is that actually Fred Shero behind the Flyer bench? What kind of moron sends out Riley Cote on the power play after Steve Downie got “hurt?” He looks like a professor, but inside, he’s nothing more than a Broad Street Bully at heart. He was probably the little nerdy kid that always got beat up, and this is his way of channeling the rage.
Jordan Staal: A
He played very well last night, right off the bat. He just can’t score this year, though, and I don’t know why. But he was certainly a force on the PK.
Georges Laraque: F
No matter how much play-acting Downie did, that was a dangerous hit by Big Georges, and will rightfully draw a suspension. The length of the suspension will likely be tempered by the fact that Downie came right back into the game and by who he hit.
Ryan Whitney: A
He had a very good game, with a goal and an assist. And I didn’t notice him in the defensive end, which is always a good thing.
”Secondary Scoring: F
Where is it? Since Sid went out, they have played 3+ games. Goals by forwards: Malkin, 4; Sykora, 2; Talbot, Malone, Taffe, 1 each. Two goals by the bottom three lines will not get it done.
Tonight: 27/57, 47%. Power play: 3/3, 100%.
Total: 44.3%/45.0% since Sid went out.
Striped Buffoon Huh? Call of the Game
Gee, where to start? We could look at the Flyers being called for only two penalties all game. Either the world is about to end, or it was incompetent officiating. I suspect it’s the latter. Once again, Dan O’Blindoran proves he has no business doing anything other than crossing the street with his little red-tipped cane and guide dog. But the call that just angered me to no end was the one on Malone in the final minute. I am not saying this wasn’t a penalty. It was. And I have no problem with that call IF THE CLOWNS HAD CALLED THE REST OF THE THIRD PERIOD THE SAME WAY. But they hadn’t. They had earlier let a couple blatant penalties on each team go. They had set a standard. And then to totally go against that standard and call a ticky-tack hook on Malone is just disgraceful. But you want to know what got me even more upset? No more than 20 seconds later, Jeff Carter BLATANTLY hooks Malkin behind the net WHILE MALKIN HAD THE PUCK (the guy Malone hooked didn’t even have it), and the same buffoon ignores it. Seriously, it doesn’t get much worse than this sequence, even in the Garage League.
Icehole of the game
Gee, I’ll bet you’ll never guess who this will be, huh? Steve Downie takes a hit from behind by Laraque (and let me state this clearly again for any Flyers fans reading this, it was a dirty, dangerous play). He looks to be seriously injured. Ah, but looks can be deceiving when you’re dealing with an ass clown like Downie. Call me a bad person, but I was actually hoping for a nanosecond that he was hurt and that his career might be over. The last thing the NHL needs is a clown like this sullying the game, and I am all about making the game better. But then I came to my senses and realized I really don’t want to see anyone hurt. But then he gets up and acts all woozy, but is able to run down the runway, and come out in the third period as if nothing had happened. What a worthless piece of crap and human being this guy is. Oh, and Steigy, please spare us the sob stories about why he is the way he is. Most kids who go through the same thing turn out just fine as adults. Downie has nothing between the ears and that’s why he didn’t. I hope Billy Tibbetts is keeping a jail cell warm for him.
We have a first. The Icehole of the Game is also awarded the Monk Moment. I mean, how can it not be a monk moment when a guy rises from the dead like Lazarus after being supposedly knocked silly? He is then able to not only come back and play, but get into a fight. For that Lazarus-like act, he is tonight’s double winner.