Desperation. That is the one and only word that can describe the win the Philadelphia Flyers achieved over the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight at the Mellon Arena. Anyone who thought the Flyers would roll over and die after going down three games to one is a fool. That qualifies every player in a Penguin uniform tonight as a fool.
Dan Bylsma has been brilliant in his stint as the Penguins head coach this season but some of his lineup decisions tonight made no sense. Tonight he benched Petr Sykora and Kris Letang in favor of Miroslav Satan and Phillippe Boucher, respectively. These moves would have made sense in the last game but in a game when you can eliminate your biggest rival, why would you try to make changes?
There is no argument that Letang and Sykora have been subpar at best in this series but chemistry is a big factor in playoff hockey. When one group wins three out of four games it makes no sense to switch that up. Satan didn't even play ten minutes tonight which makes him playing in place of Sykora virtually useless. And Boucher had a -2 rating along with Sidney Crosby, Mark Eaton, Chris Kunitz, and Rob Scuderi. When three out of your six defensemen have a -2 rating you don't even need to look at the scoreboard to know you lost.
After dominating the Penguins the way they did tonight, the Flyers have built enough momentum to make things interesting going into game six at the Wachovia Center Saturday afternoon. It seems as if all the emotion of the Penguins got sucked out of them when Evgeni Malkin's tying goal in the second period was taken away when it way deemed that he kicked the puck into the net.
The Flyers' grinders played just the way they did in game three as well. Aaron Asham and Claude Giroux who aren't known as goal scorers each had a goal a piece. The story of this series have been the third and fourth lines of each team. Whichever teams bottom lines performs better wins the game.
Bylsma's lineup going into game six is up in the air as to what it will be. One thing is certain though and that is the Staal, Kennedy, Cooke line needs to be better than the Flyers' third line. If that happens, winning game six will be no problem and it needs to be no problem. The Penguins know better than anyone that it is very possible to come back from being down 3-1.
Winning game six will be important for the Penguins if for no other reason then for fatigue. The Pens should be rooting for the Rangers to finish off the Caps because that would give the Pens a matchup againt the winner of the Hurricanes and Devils who have taken everything out of each other....assuming the Penguins can hold on and win the series.