Posted by: JimBibbySweat1 on Apr 15, 2012
Game III: Can the Pens find a way to ground the Flyers?
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The numbers are there to back the Philadelphia faithful or to give hope to those that cheer for the Penguins. The Flyers hold a spotless 17-0 mark in playoff series when they go up by a two games-to-none lead. The Penguins, on the other hand, have battled back to win five of 11 series in which they’ve lost the first two games.
An interesting dynamic created by the surprising results at CONSOL shows some Pittsburgh fans proclaiming the series to be over, while Philly fans -- and even Hockey Buzz website founder Eklund -- suggesting there’s a lot more hockey to be played.
“But this series isn't over,” Eklund pens. “Not by a long shot. I fully could see these Penguins winning game 3 and 4 in Philly. We have seen that before. I also believe the Penguins need to get to Philly. Need to stop matching lines and start believing they are too good to matched against. It’s a mindset. And it could return.”
We discussed keys going forward Friday here and the poor results yesterday here. When the rubber meets the road, or in this case, the volcanized rubber meets the ice, games are won by teams with capable personnel, solid plans and error-free execution.
Both teams have the players necessary to move on to the next playoff round. Remember, the Penguins finished higher than Philly in the regular season standings. Pittsburgh’s defensive corps is taking a lot of heat right now, but the Pens need their forwards to help out with the back-checking. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has played poorly at times, but he’s getting very little help.
For the Flyers, it seems like every little bounce is going their way. Looking deeper, however, the team is creating its opportunities with its confident play In Friday’s contest, Philadelphia pinned the Pens penalty-killing unit in its own end for 74 straight seconds during a Sidney Crosby interference call before scoring.
At the time, ROOT Sports announcer, Bob Errey, marveled not only at the Flyers skill level but also how “they (the Flyers) have lefts and they have rights, they have balance.” Philadelphia puts right-handed shooters in position of power and left-handed shooters where they can tee the puck up and be successful.
So far Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma’s system of keeping the puck in the offensive zone while ringing up the shots total hasn’t worked. The Pens outshot Philly, 28 to 26, in Game 1 but were outshot 30-28 in Game 2. The Flyers have done a better job getting the puck behind Pittsburgh’s net and turning its defensivemen. By the time the third period begins, it’s the Pens blueliners that appear exhausted, not the Flyers’ defenders.
Looking back over the video from Game 1 and Game 2, it appears the Flyers are making a concerted effort at shooting to past Fleury’s stick-side. All seven of Philadelphia’s goals slid past the Flower’s right-hand side. In Game 1 on the overtime winner, Matt Carle shot toward the same side of Fleury before Jakub Voracek scored on the rebound. Perhaps that’s a tendency that the Pens are aware of. In any case, the Flyers penchant for pulling the trigger while aiming stick-side appears to be part of a plan.
Part of Pittsburgh’s plan is working. Brooks Orpik increased his hit total from one hit to eight from Game 1 to Game 2. The power play scored two times in four attempts after going 0-for-3 in the first game. Of course, Philly went 2-for-4 on Pittsburgh’s power-play, too, a counter to the execution factor.
The Penguins aren’t the first favorite to fall down in a series by two games. Vancouver lost its first two games at home to Los Angeles Kings, though the Canucks are missing Daniel Sedin. Philadelphia has the upper hand and gets a chance to further salt away the series with a win Sunday. But if Game 3 is anything like the first two games of this Eastern Conference Quarterifinals matchup, the only certainty is to expect the unexpected.
Here’s a look at the ice times from Game 2
Penguins Time-On-Ice (Game 2)
Zbynek Michalek: 7:13 (1st Period), 8:58 (2nd Period), 7:48 (3rd Period), 23:52 (Total). Power-Play (0:11).
Deryk Engelland: 4:42, 4:45, 2:33, 12:00. Power-Play Time: 0:00.
Ben Lovejoy: 5:03, 4:45, 1:54, 11:42. Power-Play Time: 0:00.
Paul Martin: 5:38, 5:06, 7:44, 18:28. Power-Play: 1:49.
Brooks Orpik: 7:58, 8:55, 7:56, 24:49. Power-Play Time: 0:11.
Kris Letang: 7:13, 6:26, 10:29, 24:08. Power-Play Time: 4:38.
Pascal Dupuis: 5:29, 7:25, 5:57, 18:51. Power-Play Time: 0:00.
Jordan Staal: 7:22, 6:44, 5:47, 19:53. Power-Play Time: 1:32.
Chris Kunitz: 6:32, 4:09, 8:58, 19:39. Power-Play Time: 3:15.
James Neal: 6:17, 4:01, 8:14, 18:32. Power-Play Time: 3:17.
Matt Cooke: 6:25, 6:16, 5:11, 17:52. Power-Play Time: 1:32.
Steve Sullivan: 4:50, 4:21, 6:46, 15:57. Power-Play Time: 3:31.
Craig Adams: 3:23, 4:04, 0:34, 8:01. Power-Play Time: 0:00.
Arron Asham: 1:59, 3:25, 0:34, 5:58. Power-Play Time: 0:00.
Joe Vitale: 2:03, 1:42, 0:34, 4:19. Power-Play Time: 0:00.
Tyler Kennedy: 4:49, 4:24, 4:14, 13:27. Power-Play Time: 0:11.
Evgeni Malkin: 6:21, 5:28, 8:22, 20:11. Power-Play Time: 3:38.
Sidney Crosby: 6:43, 5:59, 7:52, 20:34. Power-Play Time: 2:05.
The complete breakdown of ice time, shifts, etc. can be found here.
Assorted Flyers Time-On-Ice Figures
Braydon Coburn: 24:19 Total.
Andreas Lilja: 11:54 Total.
Nicklas Grossmann: 20:19 Total.
Pavel Kubina: 12:39 Total.
Matt Carle: 21:49 Total.
Kimmo Timonen: 21:21 Total.
Sean Couturier: 16:30 Total, 1:51 Short-handed.
Wayne Simmonds: 15:13 Total.
Scott Hartnell: 15:32 Total.
Matt Read: 14:36 Total.
Max Talbot: 17:39 Total.
Claude Giroux: 22:30 Total, 2:25 PP, 2:44 Short-handed.
Zac Rinaldo: 4:18 Total, 0:00 in the third period.
Eric Wellwood: 14:03 Total.
Daniel Briere: 15:16 Total.
Jaromir Jagr: 13:19 Total.
Jakub Voracek: 14:28 Total.
It's surprising to see how balanced a lot of the Philly times are. Talbot actually finished with the second-most time among forwards. There’s not much difference between the times when you take out Giroux and Rinaldo. Rinaldo didn’t skate a shift in the third period Friday, but is good for a power play opportunity almost every time he hits the ice.
The complete breakdowns of ice time and shifts can be found here.
Scenes From Saturday Practice
“What, me worry?” GM Ray Shero smiles watching his Pens practice right here.
Coach Dan Bylsma has the attention of just about all of his players gathered around him here.
Awaiting instructions for the next drill here. Pittsburgh used the full sheet for most of its work Saturday.
Waiting for the skate to begin here.
I counted 39 pucks in this pic with Pascal Dupuis here. How many did you count? The Pens would likely be happy with Duper putting two or three behind Bryzgalov on Sunday.
Kris Letang, seen here, saw his minutes spike in the third period Friday. Did he tire out in the crucial latter stages of Games 1 and 2? Would that even be a question if the Pens were winning?
Can you name the only two Pittsburgh skaters, seen here, to score in both Games 1 & 2?
Geno gets his shot on here. He actually rung this one off the left post.
Malkin hasn’t scored yet in the playoffs but it hasn’t stopped him from smiling here.
Even so, Geno pays close attention to coach Dan Bylsma here, as if he’s listening to mama and papa Malkin. He knows what's at stake.
Treasure Life & Let's Go Pens!