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PLAYOFF GAMEDAY – GAME FOUR – FLYERS

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GAME FOUR
Penguins Lead Series 2-1

7:00PM – Wachovia Center

Nobody really expected a sweep.
The Flyers are jerks, but they know how to play hockey.
Some of them at least.
Being up 3-1 and going back home will be pretty nice.
Mike Richards is an outstanding and inspirational leader.

This series has gotten heated.
It’s exactly what people expected.
Tough, hard hitting hockey.
Pointless scrums after every whistle.
Endless jobbing on message boards and blogs.
This is Pittsburgh VS. Philadelphia.

Everyone knows the Pittsburgh Penguins got sucked into playing the Philadelphia Flyers’ game on Sunday.

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The Flyers, with the crowd behind them, came out strong and scored two quick goals.
Having a two goal lead allowed Philly to sit back and play their game.

And they played it well.

There weren’t many stoppages in play that didn’t see a scrum after the whistle.
Even people like Kris Letang were involved.
The Penguins focused on hitting and scrapping and showing that they have the physicality to match the Flyers.

And no doubt they do.

Not one Penguin looked out of place in those scrums.
Not a single player was dominated physically.
The Penguins played the Flyers game and they matched them.
They matched them physically.

Unfortunately they spent so much of their time running around and looking for hits that they forgot to play their game.

Their game is puck possesion.

The Flyers were successful in drawing the Penguins into a game where post-whistle scraps were more important than hard dump ins and a strong forecheck.

And that’s why the Philadelphia Flyers won the hockey game.

With the game tied, or while the Flyers only led by one, Philadelphia was forced to play offensively.

They had to abandon their “scrapping first” policy in order to try and score.

That’s why Simon Gagne’s shorthanded goal was so important.  Not only did it turn the emotional momentum back towards the Flyers, but it also restored their two goal lead.  And that allowed them to return to “their game” and draw the Penguins in.

The last half of the game featured the Flyers lining four men up across their own blue line in order to stop the Pens from entering the zone.  When the Penguins could dump it in, the Flyers tried to hit first, hoping to frustrate the Pens.

It worked on Sunday.  It remains to be seen if it will work today.  If the Penguins proved anything during the first two games its that they have the ability to completely dominate the Flyers if they play to their strengths.  Their strengths are speed, aggressiveness and raw talent.  Guerin and Kunitz and Cooke are more than equiped to handle the rough play.  The key to winning is to not engage the Flyers after every whistle.  This will frustrate them and they will make mistakes.

The Penguins power play will also be important.  When the Flyers take penalties the Penguins will need to make them pay.  It’s been said a million times but it’s definitely true.

Obviously the Flyers will attempt to play the same style as they did on Sunday.  Why wouldn’t they?  It was effective and it won them the game.

The Flyers are saying that Marc-Andre Fleury was rattled by the Philadelphia crowd.  Fleury played in front of this crowd last year and did an exceptional job.  He had an off game, but he wasn’t the main reason for the loss.  Philadelphia’s comments about Fleury were likely made in an attempt to rattle Fleury’s confidence.  Everyone knows that Fleury plays much better when he’s feeling good about himself than when he isn’t.  It’s an attempt at gamesmanship by the Flyers.

And the gamesmanship continues.

“Every chance I get, I try to hit Malkin, I’m trying to hit Crosby and I’m taking runs at Gonchar, too. It’s playoff hockey,” said Mike Richards. Obviously Philadelphia would like nothing more than a Penguins team that is focused on physicality rather than offense.

The Penguins defense, which wasn’t tested much in the first two games, also struggled on Sunday.

“I think we got mesmerized by the puck a few too many times rather than just picking up guys,” said Brooks Orpik.

Speaking of struggling, we’ll be watching Petr Sykora tonight. He’s likely injured, but a big goal from him would really help this team.  Evgeni Malkin can only do so much for that line.

Mellon Arena Screen Blog

Earlier we posted this:

ournbccomments

Then Seth from Empty Netters made an awesome point:
sethsnbccomments

The fact that this was posted on MSNBC is hilarious.

The screen will be back on tonight.  If there’s a game six, it will be on NBC and the screen will be blacked out to prevent any damage to the National Broadcasting Company.

If anyone is planning on watching the game on CBC, note that it will only be airing until 8PM.
CBC will then switch to Vancouver @ St. Louis.
For some reason one affiliate, CHEX-Peterborough-Durham, will continue showing the Pens game.

We can’t really fault CBC for this decision.
Their funding comes from the Canadian public and thus showing a Canadian team should be a priority for them.
They will stream the rest of the game for free on their website.

NBC Sports has been under assault on Twitter:

They’ve responded with automated tweets that let us know their website was updated.

There’s no doubt that this is going to be a huge game.
If the Pens win today they’re up 3-1 and they’re going home.
If they lose, the series is tied and they’re still going home.

The Flyers and their fans have done everything possible to turn this into another “the referees are against the Flyers” debate.
It’s not.
It’s a series between two hockey teams that really don’t like one another.

They have Richards and Carter.
We have Crosby and Malkin.

They have have the “Orange Crush.”
We have white outs and twirling towels.

They have Timonen and Biron.
We have Gonchar and Fleury.

They have complaining about the refs and elaborate conspiracy theories.
We have the Art Ross Trophy and a team that’s won a Cup since the Carter administration.

Stats So far:

We knew it would be close.
No surprises.

“On your way out, if you wanna kill somebody, it would help a lot.”

Do It.
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