The Penguins came to our house last night, bringing with them a 12 game win streak. Crosby said that because we’re the defending conference champs, we’re the team to beat. The Crying One’s words turned out a bit prophetic on this night, as the Flyers dominated up and down the ice throughout most of the game. Most importantly, we got the 3-2 win and sole possession of 1st place in the NHL.
As far as Sid goes, he was more like Sid the Sloth from Ice Age, rather than Sid the Kid who’d been tearing up the league since breaking into the NHL. Sure, he assisted on both Pittsburgh goals last night, but he was mostly kept in check. The Flyers defense was airtight, having one stretch during 5 on 5 play where the Pens kept the Flyers in their own zone for an extended period of time. Other than that, nada!
Malkin did his best to play the role of Sid’s boyfriend, but that backfired at one point. He scored both goals, covering up Crosby’s inability to do anything on offense. Later, with the score even at two, he took a stupid penalty. After Betts laid a clean hit on 87, Malkin came right in and dropped him with a shoulder from behind. Too bad the puck was long gone. Hartnell redirected the game winner on the powerplay that followed. And Malkin learned a valuable lesson: you can do whatever is necessary to defend your girlfriend off the ice, but you gotta keep it clean at the rink.
Once again, I have to give serious props to the team defense. They were awesome last night. They kept the shooting lanes clear, they didn’t allow Crosby or Malkin the time or space to create anything. And the best part, was the final 2:26, when we were shorthanded, and the Pens pulled MAF. They moved the puck, kept it in our zone, and registered no shots. A powerplay that had struck twice, that had been the key to their winning streak, couldn’t come through because of great defensive puck pursuit, and clogging the passing lanes. And most impressively, they didn’t give Crosby one freaking shot on goal.
Overall, this game wasn’t very chippy. Matt Cooke got nailed on a bogus roughing call after he stopped in front of Boucher, hung around too long, and drew a gathering. By “drew a gathering” I mean Pronger put his glove in Cooke’s face, shaved him into the cage, and held him there like a fish trapped in a net. Even with Carcillo back in the lineup, no gloves were dropped. He played pretty smart, bringing some energy to the forecheck, and not taking any dumb penalties. In fact, none of the Flyers penalties were that bad. Some were borderline calls by the refs, but nothing too serious.
Zherdev was also back after being a healthy scratch in the last game. He scored a sweet goal, because that’s what he does best. He came in 2 on 1, and patiently waited for the d-man to belly flop. A quick toe drag around him, a shift to the middle, and a quick wrist shot into the vacant top left corner gave him his 10th goal of the season. Pretty sweet!
Finally, Boucher was in net for the 3rd straight game. Is this really about giving Bob some rest, or is Lavy just going to go with the hot goalie all season. We thought Bob had established himself as the No. 1 guy; now, I’m not so sure. Leighton is almost ready to come back, so I wonder how we’re going to fit him in. The last thing we need is for the goalie carousel to start turning again.
Finally x2: Crosby may have extended his point streak, but he didn’t earn it. On the first Malkin goal, he got the secondary assist. He didnt make any special play. He dished it to the point, Goligoski pushed it over to Geno, and Malkin one timed it home. The only brilliant part of that sequence was Malkin’s aim. Crosby’s second assist also came because of Malkin. Sid gave him the puck at the point, Malkin looked around, and fired a shot through a screen. So while it counts in the stats, it’s not exactly the situation where he found someone back door or sprung a teammate on a breakaway.
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Tags: Alex Goligoski Brian Boucher Chris Pronger Dan Carcillo Evgeni Malkin First Place Ice Hockey Matt Cooke Michael Leighton NHL Nikolai Zherdev Peter Laviolette Philadelphia Flyers Pittsburgh Penguins Scott Hartnell Sergei Bobrovsky Sidney Crosby