The lack of discipline for the Flyers was once again their death knell as the Penguins toppled the Flyers in the latest installment of the “Keystone Klash.” The powerplay finally started coming together after an atrocious start, and Danny Briere was able to launch the puck in over Penguins back-up goaltender Brent Johnson from the side of the net early in the first period. Briere’s fourth goal for the season would end up being the only goal the Flyers notched in their 5-1 loss.
Penguin forward Chris Kunitz tied things up with a bomber past Flyer goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky at 11:31. Neither team really found any rhythm throughout the remainder of the first period and the second period as a result of penalties, but Penguin rookie Mark Letestu was able to capitalize on a 4-on-4 in the last minute of the second. Penguins agitator Matt Cooke had wrapped his glove around Mike Richards face, and when Richards shoved him off, the referees chose to award matching roughing minors.
Angry, Richards and Jeff Carter followed the goal with simultaneous shots that rang off the post. After the game, Richards said about Cooke, “He tries to come after me, but… if Sidney Crosby fights Carcillo, maybe I’ll fight him.” Carter ended the period with a double-minor penalty from a hi-sticking that would later prove to be the beginning of the end.
The Flyers’ penalty kill started strong in the third period before Claude Giroux made a desperate attempt to keep the puck out of the zone. His attempt was an obvious trip that, for the second time of the game, gave the Penguins a 5-on-3 powerplay. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby scored two goals on the powerplay that sucked any energy the team had to compete for the rest of the game. Down 4-1, the Flyers pulled Bobrovsky near the end of the third while on the powerplay in hopes that they could perform a miracle with the man-advantage. Instead, Cooke tallied an empty netter.
Some telling quotes from after the game:
Carter- “We really shot ourselves in the foot tonight. We’re in a 1-1, 2-1 game there and take some penalties and the next thing you know its 4-1, 5-1.”
Richards- “Well if you give a team like Pittsburgh 5 on 3’s, two of them, in a game and with the skill that they have, and the power play that they have, eventually they are going to capitalize.”
Laviolette- “We’re taking penalties; we’re going to the box… Whether they’re questionable or marginal, or whether they’re deserved, there’s an infraction, it’s there. We’re going to the box, again, too many times tonight and it ended up costing us.”
Noticeably absent from the line-up was Dan Carcillo, who was scratched for Andreas Nodl. Nodl looked alright while on the ice, but he didn’t have many opportunities as he was only given 6:41 of ice time. Surprisingly, for a team that spent 16 minutes on the penalty kill, Nodl was never utilized to give his teammates a rest even though he’s developed into a penalty killing specialist.
Flyers enforcer Jody Shelley saw even less time than Nodl. Shelley fought with Penguin Mike Rupp less than 3 minutes into the game. It was as much a gesture to set the tone as it was for Shelley to assert his worth in the line-up. Shelley had a good bout with Rupp and won over the crowd, but if he’s seeing only 4 minutes of ice time on average, then he isn’t serving a purpose.
The idea that he’s going to scare the other team into being complacent isn’t valid, and any retaliation he gives for a cheap hit to a Flyer will likely result in an instigator penalty. With all due respect to the man, his skills aren’t useful in the post-lockout NHL.
Bobrovsky was decent throughout the game despite the loss. With time, he’ll be better prepared for some of the shots that Crosby took from the point. The idea from the offseason was that the improved defense would overcome any goaltending deficiencies, but spending almost a third of the game a man-down isn’t going to help Bob one bit.
The Flyers have four days off before the Anaheim Ducks come to town. I expect a bag skate or two in that time.