No matter the result of last night’s Game 4 between the Penguins and the Flyers at “Whatever the hell bank bought us this week” Arena, the Penguins would be coming back to Pittsburgh today either to get the golf clubs out of the closet or start preparing for Game 5 at the Consol Energy Center Friday night, and thanks to the arrival of the “Real” Philadelphia Flyers(And seriously, what took you guys so long to get here?), it is the latter.
and waving brooms as they anticipated sweeping the Penguins in four games, something which has never been done to Pittsburgh in a seven game series.
Unfortunately, for the home fans and the home team, there was a sale on unused brooms outside the building following the debacle that was Game 4. I’m not sure how or why it took them so long to finally get here, but the real Philadelphia Flyers finally showed up. The ones that lead the league in penalty minutes all season, the ones that clutch, grab, dive like they’ve been hit by sniper fire and lead the league(Do not dispute this Flyer fans cuz ya know it’s true) in cheap shots after the whistle. The impostor Flyers that showed up for Games 1 – 3 somehow had been able to sucker our flightless birds into doing exactly what they had done all season, and the Penguins paid for it dearly getting caught taking too many retaliatory penalties and giving up too many Power Play goals.
In the first 10 minutes of last night’s game, it looked like we were in for a repeat of Games 1 – 3 as the refs decided they were going to call this game closer to the vest than any of the previous ones. Instantly Flyers were dropping to the ice at the slightest hint of contact. You would have thought that Claude Giroux had been lassoed by an John Wayne the way his head snapped back at the slightest touch of Steve Sullivan’s stick only 17 seconds into the game(Yes, it really was a high stick but the embellishment was worthy of an American Idol performance). Well, it barely took Giroux a minute to shake off the effects of that “Shot to the head” to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead, something that had not happened in the previous three games. Thirteen seconds later, Evgeni Malkin’s stick got caught between Sean Couturier’s legs, something that happens only about 1oo times in an average NHL game, but Coutuerier’s embellishment of the situation made it look like Malkin was trying to give him an anal probe, and suddenly the Flyers were on the Power Play again.
After having four more penalties called on them in the first period, the Penguins somehow ended the period up 4 – 3. There was no way this pattern could continue for the rest of the game. Something had to change. I have to believe that Dan Bylsma said something to the effect of, “Hey, you guys have tried it your way to no good effect, how about trying it my way for a change. Sure it’s a blow to your ego as well as to your faces, chests, backs of your heads, etc. to take the Ghandi way of non violence, but it’ll make the Flyers show their true colors.” And this is exactly what the Penguins did. Every time a Flyer poked, prodded, pushed, shoved(All usually after the whistle) a Penguin player, they did nothing in response. Oh sure, there were cries of, “Wuss”, “Pussy” and “Quit turtling” from both the Flyers and their fans, but as Flyer after Flyer was marched off to the sin bin, responses of, “Check the scoreboard” could be heard coming from Penguin mouths.
My favorite stat line from the evening: Zac Rinaldo – Time on Ice 3:39, Penalty Minutes 26. This is priceless. Should they ever come up with a category of PIMs/ToI ratio in fantasy hockey, ole Zac is the first one I’m taking. There’s a chance he could be looking at a one game suspension for the reconstructive work he did on Milan Michaelek’s face(After the whistle, of course), but for Penguin fan’s sake, let’s hope not. The more he plays, the more power plays the Penguins will find themselves on.
That the Penguins put up eight unanswered goals for the first time in the NHL playoffs since it was done back in 1991, by, you guessed it, these very same Penguins in Game 6 of the Finals that year when they clinched the Cup by winning 8 – 0 against the Minnesota North Stars was impressive in it’s on right, but to do it without 40 goal scorer James Neal in the lineup as well as their best penalty killer, Craig Adams makes it all that much more impressive.
Before the series started, most of us picked the Penguins to win because they are a deeper, more talented team than the Flyers. Well, the Flyers found a way to neutralize that advantage in the first three games. It looks to me like the Penguins have figured that out, and took the steps to change their style of play to negate the Flyers’ tactics. Can they sustain the momentum from last night’s thrashing? Well, the number one thing they did last night was to get into the heads of the two Flyer goalies. So much so, that Michael Leighton has been recalled from the minors, and we all know how once Laviolette starts switching his goalies, he doesn’t know how to stop. (I believe he switched goalies 11 times last year)
I’ll leave you with one final thought that should bring a smile to most Penguin fan’s faces, Just remember, good things happen when Paul Martin is wearing street clothes(Thanks for that one Matt) and hopefully I’ll be back to tell you about Friday night’s victory at the CEC.
Damn it, I just dropped a glass. Anyone know where I can get a broom, cheap?