Thoughts: Game 33 – Penguins vs Flyers

Pens 2 Flyers 1 (OT)

Crosby (14) (PP) from Martin, Bennett
Kennedy (5) from Niskanen, Dupuis

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  • Sidney Crosby had 7 shots and Pascal Dupuis added another 6 (with 3 misses too)
  • Mark Eaton had 4 blocked shots
  • Brooks Orpik had 7 hits, Matt Cooke was next with 6
  • Chris Kunitz had 3 recorded giveaways, Simon Despres added 2 as well
  • Joe Vitale only played 7:10 and went 2/6 in faceoffs (likely odd man out?)
  • Paul Martin led the team with 28:09, Mark Eaton played a solid 20:46

The Good

Fleury Flyers

Marc-Andre Fleury is quietly making you forget that you wanted to trade him. (Gene J. Puskar/AP Photo)

Marc-Andre Fleury: Another brilliant performance somehow was lost in the dramatics of a come from behind, overtime win. Fleury stopped 27 of 28 shots and dazzled the crowd with his glove hand as he kept the Penguins within reach of this game. His great work through this winning streak has actually reached the point of being overlooked because it’s the new standard. Fleury has allowed just 5 goals in his last 5 games and is skyrocketing in every statistical category. Keep it up Flower.

Brooks Orpik: When the Pens were struggling on defense, many people (myself included) lamented about how Orpik wasn’t doing a thing on the crease. Those opinions have disappeared now that Orpik improved his physical effort in front of the net and is doing a much better job of tying up sticks. He had a couple of key stick-lifts on the crease and also led the team with 7 hits. As an added bonus, he drew the slashing penalty on Wayne Simmonds that eventually led to a powerplay goal.


Dustin Jeffrey: Jeffrey was the epitome of noteworthy in this game. He was GREAT in creating chances, opening up space, finding the puck, and *almost* finishing plays. He was AWFUL at actually finishing plays though. His defensive effort was a little subpar on the boards, but he looked so dynamic in the offensive zone that it wasn’t noticeable by the end of the game. However, Jeffrey needs to finish at least one of his chances (he easily had 4 scoring chances) if he wants to stay in the lineup as the team gets healthy.  His 3 missed shots on the night will do nothing to help his case.

Paul Martin: Martin had a strong game with the puck and utilizing his poke check, but he was  kept out of the good section largely because of his retaliatory penalty against Rinaldo. It isn’t often that you will see Paul Martin do something out of emotion, but his slash on Rinaldo after a legal check was unnecessary and cost the Pens when the Flyers scored on the following powerplay. I guess someone needs to take a pointless penalty against the Flyers, right?

The Bad

Referees: This game was called horribly for both teams throughout the night. The Penguins first powerplay was on a very cheap call late in the first period. At first, it seemed like the refs wouldn’t call anything all game. Then it seemed like they would call everything after that first penalty. Instead, nothing was really called through most of the game except for Martin’s retaliation and then the back to back penalties for the Flyers in the 3rd. These inconsistencies led to Orpik getting away with a big interference hit late in the 3rd and then Coburn getting away with boarding Dupuis at the end of the period. Call everything, call nothing, just be consistent…and at least call the dangerous hits.

Simon Despres: Despres came down from his stellar performance in Long Island and was a bit of a turnover machine in the defensive zone against the Flyers. He had difficulties clearing the puck and I have a feeling he was overthinking his game a little bit after the Penguins failed on a few clears early in the first period. It’s just a bump in the road for Despres but it might be an ill-timed one if Letang returns this week.

Misc. Thoughts

Penguins Defeat Flyers

The team gets into a nice game of "tangle" to celebrate their 12th win in a row. (Gene J. Puskar/AP Photo)

Philly’s Performance: It seems like I’m saying this about opponents a lot recently, but give the Flyers credit for playing a strong, hard-fought game. This finally looked like a playoff game, even though the Flyers are struggling to stay in the race and the Penguins are miles ahead of them in the standings. Philly’s generally porous defense held together pretty well, blocked a lot of shots and passing lanes, and got a strong performance out of Bryzgalov when they needed it. As I said in the last recap, good teams generally find a way to win and bad teams find a way to lose. Welcome to the 4th or 5th example of that during this win streak.

End of Chaotic Games: This game seemed downright boring in comparison to Pens-Flyers games over the past year or so. It was a very beneficial game for both teams though. This rivalry had turned into a video game or Disney movie atmosphere with how the games were being played. The hockey was awful – sloppy and fundamentally flawed. Now both teams have returned to playing real hockey against each other. The Flyers needed that change as they try to turn their season around and the Penguins needed it as they try to take the next step. FINALLY.

Keep Streaking:  As the Pens continue along (12 wins in a row), a part of me is constantly wondering when it will end.  This was another game where both teams played well enough that I could have accepted the end of the streak because the Flyers would have earned the win.  Yet again though, the Penguins found a way to come back.  This team is starting to remind me a lot of the 2008 and 2009 teams because of the confidence they have in their abilities no matter what the situation is.  In ’08 and ’09, it was youthful exuberance and not knowing any better.  Now though, it has a more veteran leadership feel to it.  It’s more about poise, smarts, and sticking to the plan.  The Penguins are still continually improving their game on this streak and that is what separates this streak from previous ones.  They won’t be satisfied until it ends with a Stanley Cup.

Morrow Trade: As we all know by now, the Pens traded Joe Morrow and a 5th round pick to Dallas for Brenden Morrow and a 3rd round pick. My short evaluation reads as this: “TBD.” It isn’t a steal for either team, nor is it a rip-off either. Right now, that trade stands as even with many factors to be determined. The Pens will judge this trade solely on their playoff performance this year (and maybe if B. Morrow happens to re-sign, but I don’t expect it). If they make it to the Stanley Cup Final, then they win the deal. Meanwhile, the Stars will evaluate this trade based on where J. Morrow ends up on their depth chart and how long he stays with the organization. If J. Morrow never turns into an NHLer – it’s a win for the Penguins. If B. Morrow gets ousted in the first round with the Pens – it’s a win for the Stars. Either way, both teams dealt away a piece they DID NOT need, so there’s a strong chance it’ll be a win for both teams…or at least not a loss.

Brent Johnson Article: Finally, there is a neat article on ESPN that revisits the Brent Johnson – Rick DiPietro fight from two years ago. Check it out here.

As always, get the full Goal Assessment at CrosbyFTW.