The Philadelphia Flyers, if nothing else, are known as a physical rough-and-tumble bunch. The Pittsburgh Penguins matched that willingness with three fights early (and a busy day tomorrow for Dunman!). Hockey is more about just the fisticuffs and the Pens are able to do that too, scoring six of the seven goals from Sidney Crosby, Bill Guerin, two by Jordan Staal, Ruslan Fedotenko and Evgeni Malkin.
One team is in a groove, getting good goaltending and playing strong defense....And the other is not right now. The results were as clear as the scoreboard; a 6-1 virtual whitewashing by Pittsburgh.
- Riley Cote was the only Flyer that escaped a minus in the plus/minus column, and he got a grand total of two shifts and 0:31 of ice-time. Conversely, only Tyler Kennedy and Craig Adams were the only Pens that weren't pluses. Just one of those nights.
- Shots ended up being 35-27, hardly the edge to demonstrate the zone time and puck control that Pittsburgh had all night long. Crosby, Malkin and Kris Letang led the way five shots on goal a piece.
- Strong effort by Marc-Andre Fleury getting in front of 26 of 27 shots. The Flyers did throw them on him, and he was there. Fleury's 8-1-1 and has given up 2 or fewer goals in eight of his last ten games and is sporting a .927 save percentage over that stretch.
- About the only place the Pens didn't dominate was in the faceoff circle; Philly won 60% of the draws, no Penguin player who took more than one draw had over a 50% rate.
- The blowout allowed the Pens to mix things up. No forward played more than 18:50, much under the season averages of guys like Crosby and Malkin. Defensively, only Sergei Gonchar played more than 20:00 minutes -- and even his 23:39 was under yearly average. Philly, playing catchup, had seven of their players go over the 20:00 minute mark. Might this show up in the second game of the home-and-home?
- Brooks Orpik had 2 assists, Eric Godard had a nice flip that got him an assist, Staal wristed a nice shorty and a tap-in rebound, Fedotenko went 1 and 1, as did Malkin....You could go almost all the way down the line. Almost everyone who dressed made nice plays and a lot of them ended up in the net. Just one of those nights.
One of those nights indeed. Pittsburgh re-takes their lead for most wins league wide and the Flyers must be as frustrated as ever. Things change, and change quickly in the NHL. Philadelphia will get a shot in the arm with their crowd --and stewing over their performance -- on Thursday. If the Pens aren't out the gates running, make no mistake, Philly (with a 9-7-2 home record) will make them pay. But if the boys in black-and-gold have another showing like tonight, it'll likely be the same result.