You can blame the loss on Tomas Vokoun a million times over and it would be impossible for anyone to disagree with you, but all he cost the Pens tonight was a point (or two). Their composure, and any hope we had that this team had grown up, had been lost long before he ABSOLUTELY BLEW THE END OF THE GAME FOR THE PENS.
|Come on, dude.|
Kris Letang let himself get drawn into a penalty by Zac Rinaldo, again. James Neal took a useless interference penalty, again. Evgeni Malkin took four minutes of penalties because he wasn't a big enough man to take abuse from Sean Couturier and say to himself, "I'm Evgeni F'ing Malkin, I'm going to ignore this idiot." Tanner Glass decided that he was going to use his 6:37 of ice time to take 4 minutes worth of a high sticking penalty. And Dan Bylsma, who let it all happen last year, let it all happen again.
Even if Vokoun hadn't Fleury-farted the Flyers' 6th goal into his own net, this game was, on the whole, a complete disaster. And don't let the accidental-high-stick-fueled mini-miracle comeback fool you -- the only thing the Pens proved tonight is that space is still available in their heads for rent. Players like Zac Rinaldo are only effective if you let them be effective, and Letang, Malkin, Engelland, and so many other guys inexplicably and routinely elevate scrubs to their lofty level by engaging with them. Yes, it sucks to get cross-checked in the back 11 times without the ref calling a penalty. And yes it sucks that Rinaldo takes 100 strides before he hits you. But the best way to prevent a homeless guy from exposing himself to you is to walk away and not make eye contact.
Malkin is going to want a $100 million contract. Letang is assuredly going to want to be paid like a number one defenseman. They should start acting like they deserve it.
It's almost certain that Bylsma has tried to address this discipline issue against the Flyers, but whatever he has said is not working. And that's on him. The insane has become routine against the Flyers, but Ray Shero didn't put this team together to win games by out-insaning the other team and winning only because you hope the other team's goalie is worse than yours. He built it to play 5-on-5, and roll 4 lines, and control the puck, and stay out of the penalty box. Not to have $8.5 million centers and franchise defensemen ripping the helmets off of AHL curtain jerkers after the whistle.
Sure, the Pens could beat the Flyers in another insane 7-game series by getting moderately better goaltending and having a few more disallowed goals not get disallowed. But they could make it a lot easier on themselves, and the rest of us, if they tried to be grownups for once. Because as the Kennedy and Sutter goals in the third period showed, we have a pretty good team. When we act like it.
A few other random thoughts after the jump...
- Bad night for Crosby. His passing is deadly from the left goal line on the power-play, but he isn't making himself a threat to shoot.
- Tyler Kennedy was a +3 in only 7:48 of ice time. I know he's the popular whipping boy, but he deserves more than 8 minutes of ice time. He has some chemistry with Sutter and Bennet. Let them find more.
- Vokoun was so terrible tonight. Hopefully Fleury got a good view because that's exactly what he looked like last year.
|What are you doing, dude?|
|Here's Pete telling his team to just hang tight until one of the Pens' goalies scores on himself.|
[UPDATE: Here's another nominee for most deflating regular season goal given up by a Pens goalie, thanks to @Allie874]
- Have to hope this doesn't ruin Vokoun here forever, but again, THAT WAS ONE OF THE WORST GOALS OF ALL TIME SAKGASKLGAKSLGHA'KLSGH.