The Penguins bring the expected team to Game 1. Welcome back Derick Brassard to the lineup for the first time since 3/27.
The Flyers bring the following to the Game 1 party
The home team comes out strong, the crowd is rockin’ and rollin’ and playoffs are back, baby! After throwing a bunch of shots at Brian Elliott earlier, the Philly goalie kicks out a huge rebound to the slot right to Bryan Rust. Rust snaps it quickly on net, short-side and whaddya know Flyers and leaky goaltending a tale as old as time. 1-0 Pens just 2:38 into the game.
Pittsburgh. Penguins. Playoff. Hockey. pic.twitter.com/JtSy9vjSP3— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 11, 2018
A bit later, Philly gets a little bit of pressure in response. A pass from a defenseman up to Conor Sheary is fumbled in his skates and turned over. A few quick passes later Scott Laughton has the puck on his stick and plenty of open net to look at until Matt Murray stops him from point blank range! Huge stop for Murray to show that he is back.
Pittsburgh converts, thanks to an awful turnover by the guy Flyers fans think is a Selke winner (lolol) Sean Couturier who flubs a puck in his own zone. Puck goes to Patric Hornqvist who quickly throws the puck to Carl Hagelin in front of the net. Brian Elliott isn’t stopping that on the best of days, let alone today. 2-0 Pens.
To make matters worse for Philly, Travis Konecny takes a tripping penalty. After 1:12 of the Pens PP, Evgeni Malkin neutralizes it by taking a hooking penalty in the offensive zone. The flyers don’t score, which is a big mistake becuse when Malkin gets out of the box he gallops by the entire tired Philly team and throws a backhander on net that Elliott comically can only shrug at. 3-0.
Malkin... Beats everybody.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 11, 2018
The crowd (and his parents) go wild! pic.twitter.com/QgEPZPolPD
Just a beauty
The refs must feel sorry for the Flyers, give them another power play but they can’t crack Murray.
Shots in the period end up 15-9 Pittsburgh. Pens were on the PP for 1:12 in the 1st, short-handed for 3:12 and even strength for the remaining 15 minutes and change.
The Pens weather a bit of a storm then just blow what’s left of the game open. Sean Couturier was on ice for all 3 goals against in the 1st period and didn’t want to be on for a 4th, so he takes a penalty. The first group doesn’t do much but the second does. Olli Maatta holds the blueline nicely and passes down to Sheary. Sheary makes a great cross-ice pass to Brassard. Brassard has all day, picks his head up and sees Jake Guentzel where else but right on the far post, just waiting. Brassard hits Guentzel with the picture perfect pass and it’s an easy tap in past a helpless Elliott. 4-0 Pens.
Hey Philly...— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 12, 2018
WELCOME TO PITTSBURGH, GUENTZELVANIA! pic.twitter.com/cO1qhcSt2z
Growing tired of scoring in conventional ways, Sidney Crosby bats an incoming Brian Dumoulin point-shot out of mid-air to make it 5-0. Great job by Guentzel on this play to take advantage of Andrew MacDonald’s slow skating to take the puck away. Elliott mercifully is pulled from the game.
Watch on repeat.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 12, 2018
Continue to ask... "How?"
Answer: It's Sid. And we don't know. pic.twitter.com/eyS0rvzZSj
Malkin goes bananas and is deking through the whole team again. His forehand shot hits the post to rob him of another pretty goal.
Shots in the 2nd period are 13-10 Pittsburgh, and overall shots in the game are 28-19 Pens.
The Sidney Crosby show rambles on, a couple of fortunate bounces but it’s weird how fortune just keeps seeming to follow Sid around. Anyways he’s right in front of the net and the puck gets there too for a tap in. 6-0.
Hat trick hero Crosby nets his 3rd goal of the game by deflecting another Dumoulin shot upper corner by Mrazek who had no hope of stopping that. 7-0 as the hats hit the ice in Pittsburgh.
Honk honk honk, Flyers suck!
Just remember - this could have made the game 1-1 back in the first period. Murray was there.
- Strength on strength for the Pens first goal early with the Crosby line putting the puck in the net against the Couturier/Giroux line.
- The Flyers were really, really bad in the first period. Couldn’t clear the puck to save their lives. Sloppy. Slow. Bad goaltending on top of it. One period does not a series make, but you gotta love a 3-0 start to make a statement on just who the superior team is.
- Murray was so good early. If you only watched playoff games, you would have never known he had a shaky season. He was big on the net, square to pucks, flawlessly positioned and angled. Superb game.
- By my count, Murray hasn’t given up a goal in the playoffs since the 2nd period of Game 4 vs Nashville. That’s 206:06 of a NHL playoff shutout streak (and counting!)
- Love the refs calling lots of penalties on both sides in this one. Hope it continues. Please, let’s trade power plays all game long. Suits the Pens.
- Pittsburgh’s PK somehow, someway, found a way to go 4/4 on the night. The “we need Ian Cole” crowd banishes in a corner waiting for another night.
- Dumoulin had 6 assists in playoffs 2016, 5 assists in second season 2017. 2 tonight. He’ll likely get more considering he’s seemed to master the “hey just fling it on net in direction of Sid and maybe he’ll tip it in”. Very smart, that Dumo.
- One game negative (small nit) was faceoffs. After 2 periods Malkin was 0 for 7. Crosby got kicked out twice and Guentzel lost ‘em both. A few times this resulted in direct looks on net for Philly. No biggie but even in as easy a playoff win as you’ll see in the NHL, always a few items for the coaches to harp on attention to detail and items to clean up.
- Where do the Flyers go from here? Mrazek for Game 2? I think his CAREER GAA is 4+ versus the Pens. Then again, the next time Philly holds the Pens to under 5 goals, it will be the first time this season.
- Blow out games are GREAT for balancing out the ice time. Even Kris Letang “only” had 21:57 to lead the team. Kessel, Malkin, Crosby, Hornqvist all in the 15-18 minute range for total TOI, with a bunch of that being relatively easy power play time. Won’t get much closer of a night off this time of year than that.
- For all that thought the Pens couldn’t just flip a switch in the playoffs, well, they definitely just flipped a switch in the playoffs. When Justin Schultz has 3 blocked shots in a game it really shows the buy in level this team can muster. They were skating like demons all over the ice, when Philly made a mistake they were their to capitalize. Crosby and Malkin looked better than mortals should look. Guentzel and Rust and Hagelin were pitching in goals. Murray making big saves. If you’re the rest of the NHL you just got a glimpse of why this time is back-to-back Stanley Cup champions and still very hungry for more.
But a Cup is certainly not given out after one game, and neither is a series. The Flyers will make some adjustments (who knows if that will work). But they have pride, they will be better in Game 2. Would be hard to be worse. And if they can win next game, they get a split of the first 2 games and accomplish a basic goal of how to pull an upset. The Pens have to buckle down, clear the slate and get ready to try and do the same and blow these guys out the building again on Friday night.