After the end of the first period, I thought if that is all the Flyers have to offer the series is over. Biron came up big and the period ended scoreless. No way could Biron play three periods like that. He didn’t have to. Early in the second period, Crosby turned the puck over just inside the blue line, and Aaron Asham put the Flyers ahead. Sid, just shoot the puck in deep and play on. The Flyers fourth line scored against the Pens first line and that all important first goal was in the net. The Flyers, who were lifeless until that point, now turned the game around. The Penguins had 15 shots in the first period. They could only muster 13 shots in the final two. We didn’t find out if Biron could hold up for three periods.
What has happened to Bylsma hockey? It is being played by the Flyers. They are pinning the Pens in their own end and they are breaking out of their own end with speed. They are doing all of the things that the Penguins are supposed to be doing. Hopefully the Penguins will rediscover their game and win on Saturday afternoon. One quick look at the score sheet and you can see what went wrong in Game 5. In six minutes and 48 seconds of ice time, Carcillo was a plus 2. In 22 minutes and 48 seconds of ice time, Crosby was a minus 2. The Pens need help from top to bottom.
Players on all lines need to contribute in the playoffs. In looking at the Pens’ roster, where can we find some help? Pretty much everywhere. On defense, only one is playing up to his ability. That would be Brooks Orpik. He has been tremendous. 9 more hits in Game 5. His partner, Sergei Gonchar, has probably been the biggest disappointment. He was a big reason for the turn-around when he came back, but his performance in the playoffs has been substandard. Three more giveaways last night out of a team total of five. Eaton, Gill, and Scuderi have all made too many mistakes and have allowed the Flyers too much time in their end. Even though Letang also needs to play better, he has much more up-side than Boucher. Up front, the Staal line has looked the best, but even at that, Staal has no goals, and if Kennedy scored on the wrap-around the Pens probably would have won Game 5. Malkin has not scored in two games. That is unacceptable for the league’s leading scorer. Even though Sykora has not played his best, he is still a better option that Satan. And we’ve already mentioned Crosby’s minus 2 from Game 5. His line was a combined minus 5. Kunitz has zero goals and other than Game 2, Guerin has not shown much. Just as Fleury accepted responsibility for the loss in Game 3, and DID something about it, Crosby and crew need to do the same in Game 6. We know that these guys can play better. Every player needs to look in the mirror and tell himself that. The Pens are still ahead in the series and are still the best team. They just need to prove it on the ice.
That’s the view from E-11.