The Penguins honored veterans before the game. In keeping with the government theme, the Pens’ offense is performing like healthcare.gov.
Here’s what sticks out:
The Penguins have now gone three games without an even-strength goal.
That is just a troubling stat. Teams are taking away the Pens’ bread and butter. It’s clear the Pens haven’t changed much in terms of attack, and it’s hard to tell if the book is out or if the Pens just aren’t executing. We’ve all been down this road before. People will get jammed about Bylsma, then the Pens will win like 10 in a row, and people will talk shit, etc.
Dumping and chasing is great, but when it fails, yikes. If unsuccessful dumps counted as turnovers, Pens would lead the league.
There are a few questions to ask after this game:
1. Is it time to break up Kunitz/Crosby/Dupuis? Minus the first 19 seconds of the game, the line did nothing. Dupuis hasn’t done anything offensively, and we’re getting close to 20 games here.
2. How in the hell can Malkin be jump-started? Even with Neal back, Malkin can't find the back of the net. He’s showing more and more flashes of his usual self. It’s just a matter of time.
Good news: The Pens have tons of time to figure this out. Every team goes through this shit.
Bad news: The Pens’ schedule is getting increasingly tougher.
Before the first shift, Crosby probably said, “Hey, watch this,” to Craig Berube. While Berube was still trying to figure out how to talk, Crosby proceeded to completely shame Braydon Coburn, fire a shot on net, the rebound of which Kunitz kicked into the net. Seriously, Crosby set Coburn back like 4 years.
Here is the referee explaining the no-goal:
Malkin was on the ice next, and he looked similarly possessed. Great seeing him playing with Jokinen, too. With Neal back, he now has two established goal scorers to break him out of his funk.
Then Crosby was doing shit on his next shift. He eventually fed Bortuzzo, who hit the post with the shot. Crosby was completely insane in the first period. The Penguins owned about 15 minutes of the first period.
With 5:19 left, the Flyers somehow managed to get a matchup no road team should get.
Claude Giroux and the Flyers' first line vs. Craig Adams, Brandon Sutter, and Tanner Glass.
Up to this point, the Pens held the shot advantage 12-4.
The Flyers sustained some pressure on that shift, but Tanner Glass was blocking everything. The damage was done in momentum, though. The Flyers went off for a line change, leaving only Wayne Simmonds to forecheck. Only what happened was Bortuzzo forgot how to hockey. Simmonds grabbed the puck and found B. Schenn cruising into the zone.
Borderline hit by Simmons on Bortuzzo. He actually let up at the last moment, realizing what he was about to do. Here's hoping all NHL players follow Simmonds' lead.
Flyers were a whole new team after that goal. They closed out the period strong.
Other stuff in the first
-- Pens had one of the worst power plays in modern times. If Kris Letang is the QB of the powerplay, he threw a pick-six.
-- These recaps seem like they are leaning more and more toward being anti-Kris Letang manifestos, but when a guy like Letang is playing bad, it just sticks out soooooo much. For instance:
Yikes. We weren't fans of the big contract extension Letang got, and since he's set to make elite-Dman money, we're hoping he performs at that elite level. We're watching him like a hawk, and what we're showing cannot be disputed. But he scores goals, though.
For a good bit of the second period, Eddie Olczyk was dispatching line-matchup advice to Dan Bylsma. That is never a good thing. But he wasn't wrong. Bylsma couldn't get Crosby away from Sean Couturier.
The Flyers had a ton of momentum until Rosebud went off for cross-checking Craig Adams. The powerplay was messing around, and then finally Crosby got off the goal schneid with assistance from Evgeni Malkin.
Have to credit Kris Letang for keeping the puck alive. Good stuff. The Pens kept coming after that and had another PP to work with. Nothing on that.
Crosby can't score on breakaways anymore :(
Probably one of the biggest moments of the game. With about 5 minutes left in the second, Crosby got a partial breakaway. Emery stood tall. Crosby has been cold on the breakaway as of late. He's missed at least three straight. Who wants to bet he won't go 0 for 4?
After Emery made the save, the Flyers drew a penalty. And then they drew another one thanks to this acting job:
Bortuzzo and Hartnell got into it, as well.
After the dust settled, Flyers had an 5-on-3 for 25 seconds.
And they cashed in. Schenn again. 2-1.
There was a flurry of activity in front of Emery to close out the second, but he again made some big saves.
The third period was tough sledding. Didn't look like the Pens even changed anything.
-- The Pens had a powerplay with Couturier in the box. Couldn't do anything.
-- Malkin had a great end-to-end rush, but Emery snagged his shot with a fast glove.
-- Kris Letang had a big-time chance late and could've brought the house down. He successfully carried the puck in the zone and nearly beat Emery.
Berube tightened the noose. hHrd to believe he was able to outwit Dan Bylsma. Crosby was on the ice for 26 minutes; Couturier was with him for 13 of those.