When Mike Milbury, Pierre McGuire, and Eddie Olczyk all start making sense, you’ve entered the Twilight Zone. And you want to talk about the Twilight Zone? Pens fans booing Sidney Crosby on that PP late in the second period. Holy mother of God.
A couple questions:
1. Why start Marc-Andre Fleury in both games? Jeff Zatkoff seems stable and performed admirably in the reliever role in this game. Really shortsighted move by Bylsma to do that. Let Fleury rest down the stretch here. Instead, we all saw that horrible Flyers series in our sleep last night. Who else is up for a Pens/Flyers series in the first round? Nope.
2. Matchups – As NBC mentioned, Bylsma didn’t care to get Crosby or Malkin away from Sean Couturier. Seems like a mistake.
All in all, it is tough to get really, really jammed up over this weekend. The Pens’ injuries are almost surreal at this point. The Pens have said Letang has been cleared to practice, but who even knows what that means in terms of a timetable on a return. Got a feeling we should all settle in for a “will he or won’t he” drama similar to Crosby’s concussion issues. Speaking of which, has anyone found the cause of James Neal’s current concussion?
If you weren’t already convinced, this weekend should’ve put it over the top that the Penguins are going to try their damnedest to get Niskanen locked up before July 1. The bad news there is Niskanen may have already priced himself out of the Pittsburgh. Niskanen scored again on Sunday and at this point is as close to a number-one D-man that the Pens have. If and when the Penguins ever have their entire blue line healthy, Niskanen would be a bottom pairing guy, and he’d be excellent at it. But he has proven himself this season and will get paid like a boss this offseason.
Meanwhile, Megna played a strong game and scored a goal. Hopefully the Pens keep him up this time.
The Flyers came out like it was still Saturday and went up 1-0 early.
The Pens came out trying to hit everything while the Flyers were concentrating on winning. Hartnell leveled Stempniak with a great hit. Bortuzzo retaliated, the Flyers went on the PP. Simmonds deflection made it 2-0.
MAF was looking skittish after the goal. Just looking real busy.
The Pens started Tanner Glass on the top line because stuff. That wasn’t working, so Brian Gibbons was next up. He is so awful.
Malkin went to the box, but Rinaldo got out from under his skin before he got to the box. Pens killed that off, and it meant a lot at the moment.
A bit later, Pyatt went off for a high stick. Great pass by Giroux on the PP to Simmonds, who had a couple shots at beating MAF. Did. 3-0.
MAF was sent to the showers, and Zatkoff came in. The Pens calmed down a little bit.
Orpik put home a goal late to make it 3-1. Crazy bounces on that goal, and the Pens needed them.
Pens had a PP to work with from the very end of the first. Pens had a couple good chances, but it was killed.
Matty Niskanen made it 3-2.
Nothing else to say about it. Just another big goal from him.
Bortuzzo and Downie had a dust-up off a faceoff. Bortuzzo slashed Downie’s stick in half, then Downie blatantly interefered with him. Downie would eventually go to the box after trying to drive his head into Engelland’s chest in one of the more bizarre sequences you’ve ever seen.
On the ensuing power play, Engelland fell, and the Flyers went the oth– Wait. Engelland was on the PP? Read sniped Zatkoff for the shortie. 4-2.
Pens got another PP right after that was killed. Didn’t do anything. Crosby got booed on the PP for some reason. Killed again.
Later on, all the Flyers fell down, and the puck hit Gibbons’ stick. Gibbons took the puck, didn’t fall, then passed it Megna streaking to the net. 4-3.
We’ll admit it was a good play by Gibbons. He has to do that consistently, though. Plus, it was an assist; it wasn’t even a goal.
One of the refs got a concussion, so there was only one referee for the third. After the first whistle, a linesman bit it, too.
Looked like Megna had a chance to tie this bitch up, but he didn’t shoot the puck. He drew a hooking penalty and then had some choice words for the Flyers’ bench. The Pens’ PP should be licking its chops for a chance like that in the third, but they could barely set up shop.
Sean Couturier was in the Pens’ heads. What a player. Eddie Olczyk was basically trying to shout to Bylsma from the broadcast booth about getting Crosby away from Couturier.
Malkin, meanwhile, was thriving. He almost tied it up with a takeaway and a quick snap on Mason.
Zatkoff had to make a couple saves, but the Flyers had definitely taken their foot off the gas. And then Zatkoff was headed off for the extra attacker. The Flyers had a gimme on the empty net but couldn’t end it. Then they sat back and let Crosby blow past them like some fighter jet. The last Flyers back took away the pass, but he was shooting the whole way. Mason stopped him, but then Maatta and Crosby almost teamed up for a miraculous goal in the final few seconds, but it just wouldn’t happen.
Shouldn’t have been there anyway with Malkin clearly offside on the zone entry. There was a minor dustup after the final horn because the Pens were frustrated.
– Injuries, injuries, injuries. But the Flyers have been doing this shit to the Penguins with healthy lineups. The Flyers are all of a sudden really terrifying this season.
– Megna got rocked by a Downie elbow somewhere in the third. Right in front of the referee. Just a missed call. Awful.