Friday, April 20, 2012

Countdown to Pens-Flyers Game 5: Do you recognize this feeling?

By Artistry (follow me on Twitter)

The sun is out today, and downtown Pittsburgh is shaking. With anticipation, emotion, even outright glee.  If you're a hockey fan, there is really no better feeling than this: it's playoff time, you're completely invested, and your team is the best team. There is no objective test for this except for the playoff tournament that's just underway, but you know it. You can feel it.  Maybe you feel it today.

How can this be, you ask?  The Penguins are down 3-1, they just benched (let's just call it what it is) a $5 million a year defenseman in favor of two untested rookies, allowed 9 goals on 15 Flyer power plays (no, really, the Flyers are converting at 60% on the power play) and a bunch of shorties, and they're giving up nearly 6 goals a game.  Still, you may have this feeling.  Do yourself a favor.  Don't question it.  It may not make sense, but neither does this series. Not in any way.  Listen to this feeling. Embrace it. Climb on its back, and ride it. You might fall, and if you do, you will get hurt. But we've learned from the Bachelor that YOU CAN'T WIN UNLESS YOUR WALLS COME DOWN. You have to make yourself vulnerable, otherwise you will be strung along and when you're finally ready to commit, you will have missed the whole journey.  Up to you.  But know this: we're not ready for this to end.  We're giving ourselves to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Fantasy Suite tonight.

Thoughts on Game 5 after the jump...

- It's hard to imagine how the Pens could deviate tonight from the power play unit that went 4 for 9 in game 4.  That means James Neal stays on the bench.  And if it doesn't work for the first few power plays then...hey! There's James Neal, let's give him a shot!

- That said, don't be surprised to see the officials do an about face and swallow their whistles in Game 5.  This series has to settle down at some point (doesn't it?), and if the Penguins can come close to duplicating their Game 4 even-strength play, they'll be in great shape.  Simon Despres and Brian Strait were a huge part of that. They kept it simple, but they brought energy.  And the energy left Paul Martin's body some time ago.

- The Flyers are going to come with a huge surge in the first.  You can be sure they're aware that a Pens win tonight changes everything.  This may be the game Marc-Andre Fleury has to steal.

- We're thrilled Zac Rinaldo is playing tonight.  

- Before Game 4 we said that all we wanted was another game.  Well, we either lied, or we're greedy.  Because we want another.

And we like our chances.
Go Pens.


  1. I don't know that it's to our advantage for the officials to swallow their whistles. The success of Game 4 was due at least partly by our ability to get on pucks - because they were actually calling the rule book. If they go back to dead-puck officiating tonight, our 5 on 5 play won't look anywhere near as good. The Pens aren't built to play in 2003.

    Perhaps a horrific PK balances this out, but I'm not convinced. The Pens are capable of avoiding penalties in a tightly officiate game; the Flyers aren't, which is why they led the league in PIMs. I don't know that I want to see it called as close as Wed. - but tight.

  2. Fair point. But I don't know if NHL referees know much about nuance. I just want to see as little of that Flyer PP as possible.

  3. It looks to me like the Flyers have their elbows up when they finish their checks. Not too high for a penalty but higher than the norm which aggravates the Pens. I believe that is their secret to getting the Pens off their game. Well, the stretch pass to break up the Pens' cycle makes a difference too.

    Watch for the hands/arms up on hits. If you know HCDB check with him.