The Penguins have tried to win it their way. The Penguins war of attrition has failed and it’s time to look at what does work. What has worked is the New York Rangers game plan. The Rangers are 6-0 against the Flyers this year and the most goals the Flyers have scored against them in a game is 3. There are a few simple changes Penguins coach Dan Bylsma can make to turn this series around.
Bring the Cowboys back down to earth
The Penguins have some cowboys running wild and if Bylsma doesn’t reel them in the series is going to be over on Wednesday.
It’s time to have a serious talk with James Neal and Chris Kunitz and ask them if they would like to be moved to the checking line. While even strength every time Evgeni Malkin got the puck and looked up there was not one person to be found in front of the net. Kunitz & Neal were more interested in making a crowd pleasing thunderous checks than scoring..
While Kunitz and Neal were playing cowboys behind the Flyers net the Flyers were odd man rushing the Penguins to no end. Kunitz ended up a -5 for the game and I’m still scratching my head as to how he got the number three star. Neal and Malkin were each a -4 for the game.
There is only one Penguins defenseman that has more than 4 goals on the season. If you are going to follow the Rangers game plan then the defense must not pinch into the offensive zone. They must also stay back and not try to join in the rushes. Let the offense do the work. The Rangers have 3 guys with more than 4 goals and they don’t do it. Discipline is a must. Stop the odd man rush, stop the Flyers.
Use the team
Once again Dan Bylsma threw the Penguins into a very high octane pressure filled first period then over used the first three lines. The Vitale, Asham and Adams line saw less playing time this game than they did on Wednesday. They averaged over 10 minutes per game in the regular season and only got about 6 minutes last night.
They Penguins forth line must be used to keep the other lines from getting tired. The Flyers used all of their players and only had 1 guy get under 10 minutes of playing time. This allowed for a fresh forty year old to get the game winning goal against the Penguins half way through the third period.
If you don’t trust Vitale or Asham, Richard Park is a very smart experienced player who has been itching for some playing time.
When The goal was scored by the Flyers with seconds left in the second period your could hear the air hissssssssing out of the Penguins tires. Many would say the goal happened because Arron Asham fell over. The truth is the goal was scored because Dan Bylsma was trying to protect the lead and let the Flyers coach dictate what was happening on the ice.
The two headed monster of Crosby and Malkin should have been on the ice, as they usually are when Bylsma dictates the game. The Penguins have the two best players in the world on the same team and should have been going for the knockout. Instead the Flyers scored a deflating blow.
Smart hockey is always the answer and a little bit of discipline goes a long way. Hopefully the trip to Philadelphia will get everyone’s head back on straight.