The Flyers knew that they were going to need a sustained sixty-minute effort to beat the Penguins. Tonight, fifty-six minutes was enough as the Flyers recovered from a dreadful start that saw them down three goals with over sixteen minutes left in the first period. There is no way corsi could adequately explain how this game unfolded for Philadelphia.
CF:10 CA:12 CF%: 45.45% ZENO:5
In a period with a close corsi differential and only a two chance difference, the period was not as close as the numbers say. The Penguins jumped all over the Flyers, piling up a six to nothing shot differential. That included three goals over the first five minutes.
Philadelphia was fortunate to draw a penalties, allowing them time to settle down. While the Flyers would close the gap in chances, they were really not threatening at 5 v. 5. They were able to keep the Penguins pinned and played better defense after the horrid start.
The Flyers had 5 controlled entries that ended without a chance, but these were not the of the typical, maddening variety. Normally they overpass, get a little too pretty and effectively kill a play that had promise. On this night, four of the period’s ZENOs were a single pass to a high danger area that just did not connect. A combination of bad luck and suspect ice were more to blame than the team.
CF:18 CA:14 CF%:56.25% ZENO:3
The Flyers played with determination throughout the period, routinely controlling the puck in the Penguins’ end. The corsi highlight was a great shift from the new line of NAK-G-Lindblom, where they outskated the Penguins. They created four high quality chances before Giroux tucked home a Lindblom rebound for a goal.
While they were able to contain the Penguins for long stretches, intermittent defensive breakdowns would allow high danger chances in spurts to the Penguins. The brief breakdowns could have easily ended in goals. The Flyers were fortunate to be trailing only by one by the period’s end.
CF:14 CA:13 CF%:51.82 ZENO:1
The final period was very similar to the second, with the Flyers dominating possession for long stretches before conceding a productive and intense shift to the Penguins. Elliott would need to make tough saves to keep them in it.
Once the Flyers took the lead, the Penguins dominated the offensive chances as Philadelphia was content to play strictly defense. This final Penguins’ effort skewed the corsi numbers to show a period that was much closer than it was in reality. That said the, final minutes had the Flyers in a precarious situations.
PHI C Claude Giroux CF:14 CA:8 CF%: 63.64%
Giroux returned to center and the captain willed his team to a victory, collecting three points. He looked hungry to retrieve the puck in the offensive zone was able extend time there as well.
PHI C Nolan Patrick CF:2 CA:5 CF%: 28.57%
Patrick centered Bunnaman and Raffl, and that line got the least amount of ice time. While the corsi numbers are bad, Patrick was not as bad as the numbers would indicate. The small sample size exaggerates results for the bad and the good alike.
On a different note, Patrick was involved in a collision with former Flyers’ Mark Friedman. Patrick would shrug off the check, seemingly unaffected while Friedman would end up leaving the game shortly after. This may not seem like much, but with concussions and migraines in Patrick’s past, seeing him take that kind of contact in stride is encouraging.
CF:42 CA:39 CF%:51.85 ZENO:9
This was obviously a close game and the possession numbers indicate the same. In reality it was much more like two games. The first four minutes the Penguins completely dominated, and the final fifty-six minutes was a steady controlled effort by the Flyers.
The early three goal lead the Penguins’ earned certainly dictated how the game was played. It made the Penguins more conservative, and perhaps a little lazy in one on one battles. Conversely, the Flyers played with a little more determination and put forth a steady superior effort to pull ahead.
This close game is one that the Penguins must feel like they gave away, even though CF% tells a different story. The Flyers will certainly take the points but must feel they made life much harder than it needed to be by spotting the Penguins three goals.