Thursday, April 19, 2012

GTOPG: Bryzbrovsky Island; Pens Demolish Flyers 10-3

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

You can catch most of our reaction to last night's season-saving romp by the Pens on our Raw Emotion Podcast but because so much happened, there is so much to say.  A few lingering thoughts:

- Ilya Bryzgalov and Sergei Bobrovsky each had bad games last night for the Flyers, but let's not get too excited about it and think that the Pens are dropping a 10-spot every night.  For the same reasons that Fleury's biggest supporters were standing by him after a horrific Game 2 and Game 3, the Flyers shouldn't abandon all hope in their goalies.

First is the cliche that is always true -- you are never as good or as bad as you think.  Bryz and Bob are not terrible goalies.  They may be mentally fragile, but so was (or maybe is) Fleury. Understanding the psyche of a goalie is hard enough as it is, let alone two Russian goalies, one of whom barely speaks English and another who isn't sure there is any place to hide from bears in the humongous big universe.

via @lindsapple
Second, the Flyers defense and discipline was terrible.  Just like the Pens in Games 2 and 3, the Flyers were the ones leaving guys wide open, giving up countless odd-man rushes, and taking stupid penalties.  If they knock that off -- like the Pens did last night -- it's a different story for Game 5.  It's a lot easier to play goalie when the people shooting at you are covered.  Ask Flower.

Third, the Penguins are really good offensively, just like the Flyers.  The 10 goals last night were not softies or just good bounces (other than Sid's).  The Pens were burying the puck.  This roster has broken goalies a lot better than Bryz and Bob.  But it's also been stymied by worse goalies or, at least in Consol, by Bobrovsky himself.

Didn't save the day. But still could.
More thoughts on the game and more complaining from Ted Leonsis after the jump...

- The talk of the town in Pittsburgh today is Marc-Andre Fleury.  I don't know whether my confidence in him is restored permanently, or just when the Pens have a 4+ goal lead.  But I do know that I feel a lot better about him today than I did yesterday.

- Dan Bylsma's timeout with the Pens up 9-3 (or maybe 10-3) needs a plaque in the Subtle F-You Hall of Fame.  What a timeout.  The Flyers were too busy fishing pucks out of their net to care.

- The Kris Letang that showed up in the first period last night deserved a spot on the bench.  The Kris Letang that showed up in the second and third periods may deserve a spot in the Hall of Fame one day.

- There is some hand-wringing going on about this hit from Evgeni Malkin on Nicklas Grossman.  We expect nothing to come of it, save for The Mounting of the High Horses on Twitter if Grossman is out for Friday's game.  Which, not to sound like bad guys or anything, we'd be cool with.


- Second only to Alex Rodriguez hitting a bunch of home runs, the surest sign of April has arrived: the Washington Capitals, led by their petty owner Ted Leonsis and now echoed by the "lamestream media," are crying conspiracy about the officiating.  There is no doubt that there are problems with the officiating in the playoffs.  In last night's Pens game, to cite just two examples, the Flyers got an interference penalty for playing hockey and Matt Cooke got ejected for existing.

Cooke might get a lifetime ban for this disgustingly dirty play he's making.
But contrary to Ted's assertion that the league somehow protects the Stanley Cup Champions, there is no conspiracy for or against anyone.  You cannot find a player, coach, or team that is ever happy with the officiating, and that either means the officials are doing a really good job, or a really terrible job that is at least terrible for everyone.  Do you think the Bruins are happy that Jason Chimera only got 2 minutes for "slashing" Brad Marchand in his privatest of parts?

We've said this a million times on this blog.  It's not about having bad calls against you.  Every team has bad calls against them.  It's how you respond to it.  Take the Penguins, for example.  In Game 1, Danny Briere was extraordinarily offsides on the Flyers first goal, but instead of just getting over it, the Pens stewed about it for a period and a half and lost in overtime.  Last night, on the other hand, after the Flyers drew three consecutive penalties with Streepian acting performances and then scored twice on the ensuing power plays, the Pens scored the next 8 goals.

Hockey is a tough sport.  It's a dangerous sport.  You're going to get gloves to the head and crosschecks to the back.  The only way to survive it is to stop making yourself a victim.  Kill a penalty when the refs make a bad call.  Bury it on the power play when you get the benefit of a bad call.  Adjust your game accordingly depending on whether the refs are calling tight or calling it loose.  And if the other team is taking liberties after the whistle, either take liberties back or ignore it.  The one thing you shouldn't do is crosscheck a guy in the head after the game is over and then cry victim.

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