Monday, May 12, 2008

Penguins take advantage of Flyer miscues and penalties

Game two of the Eastern final saw a more physical Philadelphia Flyer team put more of their traditional stamp on things, as they made sure that the Pittsburgh Penguins knew that they were in their sights for most of the game.

It was a strategy that for a time seemed to knock the Penguins off their game, Sidney Crosby in particular seemed frustrated by the attention as he frequently found himself taken hard to a corner or upended in the offensive zone.

Evginy Malkin was so rattled by the extra attention ans chippiness of it all, that he began to make blind passes in hope of avoiding a crushing, a trait towards tentatvieness that at times threatened to undo all of his stellar play in these playoffs so far.

But eventually by the third period the Penguins had adjusted to the pace and ferocity of the Flyers attack and to a degree turned the table on them once again.
With the fourth line on the ice to add some intensity to the Penguin approach, Maxime Talbot turned a Steve Downie turnover into a scoring play as Talbot who had just returned to the Penguin line up after injury, combined with Georges Laraque and Gary Roberts for the Penguins third goal at the mid point of the third period.

It would prove to be the turning point for the game, which had seen the Flyers rebound from their game one loss to provide a much more complete approach to game two.

Penalties proved costly for the Flyers, a normal trait for Philadelphia teams through the ages. Sunday night however, a hooking call on Derian Hatcher who had been watching Evgeni Malkin, resulted in a go ahead goal from Marian Hossa. It was a borderline call at best, and perhaps was based more on reputation than fact, but regardless it put the Flyers in a short handed situation which the Pens were quick to exploit.

It did however result in a much more difficult day for Malkin, who suddenly found himself number one on the Flyers hit parade as anyone in a Flyer uniform within eyesight of Malkin seemed to be destined to hit the Penguin.

It did have the desired effect of taking Malkin off his game and perhaps showed a weakness to be exploited on Tuesday in Philly, but it comes with a cost of setting up more opportunities for the Penguin power play.

It’s a balance that the Flyers will have to find for games three and four, keeping up the physical play while reigning in the blatant fouls, reducing the turnovers while still taking offensive chances.

The problem is that the Penguins seem able to correct their course in midstream and take advantage of any opportunities that come their way, a trait that will serve them well in the rest of this series and beyond.

Globe and Mail-- Penguins take charge
National Post-- Penguins take scrappy game Penguins, Flyers going down very different paths
CBC Sports-- Max effort paces Pens to 2-0 series lead
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review-- Flyers' new approach fails
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review-- Therrien, Talbot show magic touch
Pittsburgh Post Gazette-- Penguins lead series 2-0 against Flyers
Pittsburgh Post Gazette-- Talbot hero for a night after return
Pittsburgh Post Gazette-- Fleury flowering at precisely the right time
Philadelphia Inquirer-- Pens beat Flyers to lead series, 2-0
Philadelphia Inquirer-- Et tu, Coburn? The other top penalty killer out of the game
Philadelphia Daily News-- Penguins take 2-0 lead over Flyers in Eastern Conference finals
Philadelphia Daily News-- Penguins goaltender Fleury shines amid cast of stars
Philadelphia Daily News-- Steady Richards doing all he can for Flyers
. Stats Pack

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