The Penguins and Flyers met on Sunday afternoon for the final chapter of this year’s rivalry. For Philadelphia, it was a meaningless game to play out the string in another epic failure of a season. For Pittsburgh, it was a chance to get a step closer in securing the best playoff spot possible, but also their second day game in a row.
Both teams reflected that level of “meh” early on that set the tone for a sluggish game. The Pens cycled Brian Boyle back into the lineup and gave the unproductive Kasperi Kapanen a game off to figure it out, and the organization’s third string goalie Louis Domingue got in his second NHL game of the season to give Casey DeSmith a well-earned day off.
There wasn’t much positive for Pittsburgh, who fell behind by a few goals and never could get their game in gear playing a third game in four days.
The Flyers got the first goal in the first period when Morgan Frost collected a rebound on about the fourth chance of the sequence and finally slammed it home.
The Flyers didn't give up on this puck pic.twitter.com/jVZKcuz4EM— NHLonTNT (@NHL_On_TNT) April 24, 2022
Some person named Noah Cates would score the following two goals of the game in the second period and then in the third to push Philadelphia out to a 3-0 lead.
Cates’ second goal was perhaps the most disappointing and sad of the game, coming on the Flyers’ league-low 12% power play.
The only positive for this game for the Penguins, almost literally, was Sidney Crosby scoring a goal with less than four minutes left in the game, just to ruin the shutout and pad his stats against the Flyers.
Philadelphia would close out the scoring with an empty net goal and set the final score at 4-1.
- Really disgusting game by the Pens, they looked like they had no juice or interest in competing in this one. Truly one of the worst games of the season.
- Did the Red Wings being so bad ruin Pittsburgh? Truthfully, this game wasn’t THAT much different than yesterday’s, but Detroit’s goaltending and defense is just so, so lackluster it might have been a minor shock for the Pens to realize they would have to actually do more than simply show up to have a good game.
- And, to that point, Jones was really good in this game. Or maybe the Pens just made him look good, but they did get their looks at the net at times, but only Crosby could convert.
- As one of the older teams around, the Pens naturally tend to play way better and the effort level is noticeably when they have time to recover for games (ala the 4-0 shutout over Boston last week coming off a four game break). The Flyers were the more rested team and it showed today. Pittsburgh just had no jump or motivation. That’s not really an excuse or a good reason to basically no-show a key game, but on some level it is understandable. There’s only so much energy to tap into at some point in Game #80, on the second day game in a row.
- At least the team seemed to get out of the game with no injuries. Kris Letang was smarting for a bit after blocking a shot with his hand, but was able to shrug it off and stay in the game without further issue.
- Seth Rorabaugh pointed this out, but I think there’s something to it: why not play Mark Friedman today? He brings a lot of energy and extra gumption to the ice, and the team could have used it. Plus in the games last year, his former teammates were trying to attack him during and after whistles all game long. (Then again, not too many players left on this version of the Flyers probably even remember Friedman as a teammate at this point). But still, Friedman coming into the lineup would have been a naturally good sounding decision that wouldn’t have hurt. The current lineup didn’t help.
The Pens open the door up for Washington with the regulation loss today to pass them for third place. Pittsburgh’s run doesn’t let up, as they play a fourth game in six days on Tuesday before getting a bit longer of a break for the final game of the season on Friday. They will have to get a lot more engaged by that point to get a better outcome.