Monday, May 19, 2008

Penguins / Flyers Morning After Report

While I’ve tried my hardest to recap the NHL playoffs, I realize it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Most of you don’t know where Versus is nor do you see any hockey on ESPN. Though for what it's worth, they LED off SportsCenter with game 5 of the Penguins/Flyers series last night at 7 pm. Granted, this was before the conclusion of the Celtics/Cavs game 7 but it was still refreshing to see the Mullet so early on Sportscenter. For those that missed out on the series, here’s what you missed:

Game 5 was recapped succinctly by Yinzer, but I’ll give a version that the New York Football fans out there can appreciate. This is EXACTLY like 41-0 against the Vikes but on a larger scale. The Flyers and Penguins loathe each other every bit as big as a Giant/Eagle/Cowboy rivalry. Fights in the arenas are frequent, violent and entertaining both on and off the ice. When the other team is down, the point is to rub it in; kick dirt in their face and keep scoring and pounding them until the clock strikes 0:00. To do this while eliminating them from the playoffs makes this one of the truly special moments for Pens fans that hasn’t been seen since the Stanley Cup years.

Very few people outside of homers saw this series lasting as shortly as it did. The Flyers play a style of hockey that gave the Penguins fits during the regular season. At times during the season, it looked as though the Flyers would grab control. But the Pens continued to elevate their game based on the situation and had they shown up in period 1 of Game 4, the series would have been a sweep. The Flyers had no answers when the Pens got the lead.

Turning point of the Series:

Steve Downey. Two key giveaways gave the Penguins games 2 and 3. While an argument can be for made that Hatcher was equal in blame during Game 2, Downey made a horrendous pass in Game 3 which ended any chance of a Flyer comeback. Downey could be seen in game 4 and 5 savoring the fine selection of nachos offered by the Wachovia Center and Mellon Arena respectively.

Who’d a Thunk it:

Everyone and their mother thought that the Flyers down 5-0 going into the 3rd period, would resort to their goon thuggery which they tried to establish at the end of Game 4. Suffice to say, they did not, a shockingly classy move for the most part. The Flyers half-assed their way to get out of dodge and to save themselves from further embarrassment. It’s good to know the Penguins also didn’t pull the heart out of the Flyers and instead optioned for the Friendship method. Friendship?

MVP of the series:

Marian Hossa for the Penguins was supposed to be the winger that Sidney Crosby needed to get his game to the next level. The talent has always been there but there was an unwavering opinion on the man being a notorious playoff choker in the same vein as AROD, Joe Thornton and Tony H. Romo. He's supposed to be a useless scum-sucking floating disappearing soft, pussy. And yet, we witnessed the complete opposite. Hossa will never take over the game like Crosby and Malkin, but he’s an outstanding player when he doesn’t have the focus on him. He has shown to be a tremendous playoff performer as he has now made himself a ton of money and will likely not don a Penguin uniform next fall. Suffice to say, the raised expectations after last round means the pressure is on him now to continue this in the next round. Don't worry I'm glad Hossa gave his collective "no ticket" line to the Flyers before tossing them out of a zeppelin.

Thanks for pissing us off:

Mike Richards, Derian Hatcher. Kudos for starting two brawls at the end of Game 4 which got the entire Penguin team PISSED off and motivated for Game 5.

Go Home Flyers:

Might be the best chant in Hockey since 1940. It’s still a damn shame we don’t have that still. Special Runner Up: HEY HEY HEY GOODBYE!!!!!!!!!!!

Milk Carton Watch:

All game Thursday, we heard about the greatness that is Daniel Briere and how he was officially back in it and he has turned his game around. Sorry VS, but that's a definite FAIL. Briere followed this up with a truly Casper performance where the only reason you noticed him was his flaming 48 jersey. For all intents and purposes, SUS’s own Yinzer could have been wearing that Flyer jersey and masquerading around the ice.

Joe Benenati and Daren Eliot continuously reminded us through the series that the Flyers were without the great Kimmo Timmonen and Braydon Coburn so much so that you’d figure both were the equivalent of a Bobby Orr and Ray Bourque pairing. Sadly with the great Timmonen back, you’d figure the clamps would be on. Euro Bobby Orr finished with a -2 rating in 21 minutes of ice time including a penalty. For the record, I still like VS but get these two clowns out of here. And stop giving me 43789458984 Hockey Central updates with Bill “the guy who was once on ESPN but got fired for sucking and who is not Dan” Patrick. Thanks.


Marc Andre Fleury got a ton of crap for being a choke artist during his development but he has officially put to bed a ton of his critics. I'm not 100% confident in him yet but it's nice knowing we have a 23 yr old goalie who is getting some solid experience.

Oh crap, where are my manners. Let’s go to our favorite Flyer guest analyst reporting live from Mother’s house: PhillyFreak93:

Thanks for your thoughts Freak and enjoy the off-season. We at SUS will be missing seeing your mascara on a daily basis. Give my regards to your mother and tell her to keep those pop tarts warm and toasty.

Number 3 Center?

In my crappy preview, I referenced the fact that Mike Richards was a 3rd line Center and thereby would cause more trouble for the Pens to match up with. Thankfully Daniel Briere forgot that he needs to score also so the Pens dodged a bullet. The Pens also got lucky when their own 3rd line center rose from the dead. Jordan Staal scored 29 goals during his rookie season (8 SHGs) but hit a wall this season with only 12. However, as the playoffs progressed, Staal’s goal scoring prowess has indeed reawakened. Staal scored 4 goals this series which bested Richards 3 and was continuously seen manhandled Briere and friends playing great defense and top notch penalty killing.

It’s a trap!

The Penguins new found defensive prowess isn’t just because they adopted the brutal neutral zone trap but now how they are using effectively. I mean heck if the Devils could get by with Jay Pandolfo, Tommy Albelein and Sergei Brylin looking like stars the Penguins could do the same with Max Talbot, Tyler Kennedy and Rob Suckderi. For all things unholy and evil having my boys adopt Satan’s defensive scheme makes me a little sick. I mean here we are resorting to something that made us lose so many times in the mid 90s and 2000s. Sure every team has variations of the same concept...which is to clog up the neutral zone. The thing is, the Pens don't start the game in a passive system, and they'll never be passive when they are down. But there are times when a good defensive shell with a 2-goal lead can be a good thing. But this isn't new, even the great Oilers teams and the 90's Pens beared down more defensively in the playoffs. Moreover, the Flyers have not shown the ability to come back when met against this scheme.

Here are some stats for the nerds (White Boy) that enjoy this sort of stuff.

Pens outscored the Flyers 20-9 in the series.

Pens played with a lead for 165 minutes of the 300 played in the series.

The Pens are currently leading the playoffs in the following categories:

Goals per game (3.64)
Goals against (1.86)
5 on 5 G/GA Ratio (1.71)

Also, the Pens are:
2nd in Power Play %
4th in Penalty Kill %
4th in shots on goal %
4th in shots allowed %

The bandwagon is full for the Penguins but with numbers like that these, it’s hard to deny that this is indeed a Stanley Cup Contender and will give some trouble to whoever comes out of the West. The West faithful might boast of their perceived dominance but I’ll believe it when I see it.

No comments: