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Philly jumps up early and stays there, beats the Pens 7-4

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"I wouldn't pinpoint one part of our game that was at fault for that kind of goal total, but we did make some pretty pointed mistakes, puck management-wide and defensive-wise, that led to some good scoring opportunities for them -- and they were able to capitalize."

Dan Bylsma

That sums it up for Pittsburgh, who was playing catch up all night long to their arch rivals the Philadelphia Flyers.  As has been their trend lately, and as Bylsma stated, it wasn't one mistake to pin-point but a series of breakdowns that lead to the opposition taking advantage with goals.

  • Marc-Andre Fleury has given up 4+ goals in four of his last six starts.  Time to worry?  I'm inclined to think this probably says more of the defense in front of him than it does for his individual performance, but goalies have to make the saves and right now he's now bailing the team out.
  • On the injury watch: defenseman Martin Skoula left the game 1:18 into the second period, his last second coming when the Flyers' Chris Pronger smacked a goal in to give the bad guys a 4-2 lead.  Alex Goligoski (an amazing 27:44 of ice-time), Kris Letang (23:12 played) and Mark Eaton (22:14) were the main three who stepped up and picked the slack up in Skoula's absence.
  • Captain Crosby did his best to torture the Flyers (what else is new) with 2 goals, and 62% of his 29 faceoffs won. 
  • Eric Godard managed to get five shifts (3:38 overall) and took another minor penalty in the first period that Flyer defenseman Matt Carle converted into a crucial 3-1 lead.  Another game where Godard was a negative even if he wasn't on the ice for a goal --which, don't worry, he still was anyways.
  • On the bright side, Max Talbot got back into the lineup and showed some jump in his game tonight.  He got an assist and was credited with 5 hits.  It was the first game in a long while that Talbot has looked like the Superstar of old.

But it was not a bright night.  Philly did a lot of good things with the pucks and got 6 goals past Penguin goalies.  Defensemen and netminders alike didn't look good for Pittsburgh and they didn't make good enough decisions with the puck to deserve to win.

As has been the habit, effort has not been the issue.  The boys are clearly trying and working hard.  But they haven't been "working smart".  And now it's time to hit the road for a challenging set of games: Saturday at Toronto (who always plays the Pens tough), Monday at Minnesota, Wednesday in Calgary, the next night in Edmonton, and finally next Saturday in Vancouver. 

That's five games in eight nights in five different cities heading west across the North American continent.  It won't be easy, but a road trip can be galvanizing for a team.  Especially in the western cities that will be excited and make a big deal at the rare occasion of seeing the defending Stanley Cup champions from the east.