Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Five things we want to see from the Pens against the Flyers tonight

What the Flyers do best, especially against a team susceptible to getting rattled, is make you feel hurried in your defensive zone.  What they lack in composure, they make up for in making you lose your composure.  That's why tonight, beyond just the final score, here are five things we're looking for from the Pens:

5. Kris Letang to collect himself

The easiest way for a team to get the Pens off their game is to target Kris Letang, and history has proven that the Flyers know this.  Without Scuderi and the Prime Minister tonight, Letang will be logging close to 30 minutes.  If he can take the abuse from Simmonds, Rinaldo, etc., and then skate away like a grown up, the Pens will win.

4. Evgeni Malkin to score off the rush, top shelf

The guy is due for a goal scoring outburst, and here's hoping he buries at least one at even strength off the rush.  Skate down the ice, look at the top corner, and then pick it.  If he passes to James Neal and lets Neal do it, that's ok, too.  But if Geno himself can knock the water bottle off, the Pens will win.

3. A trolling of Clooode Giroux

Clooode has been having a bad season, though his last two games have been better.  As imminent as a Letang meltdown is at all times, isn't it just as likely that Clooode loses his composure?  Sid should take the opening faceoff with a 9-iron instead of a hockey stick.  If Clooode breaks his hand with a golf club tonight, the Pens will win.

2. Not giving up a goal in the first 5 minutes

The Flyers are coming off an impressive 5-0 win over the definition of mediocrity, the Ottawa Senators.  The Pens have lost two straight and haven't played in four days.  Fleury's save percentage on the first shot of a game should be a stat that you can look up, but since you can't, we'll estimate that it's 61%.  Flower has been really good this season -- if he can stave off what should be a fast start for Philly, the Pens will win.

1. Outsmarting Craig Berube, because if you can't outsmart Craig Berube, you can't outsmart anyone

Claude Julien got Chara out for 14 minutes against Crosby, and Alain Vigneault and Ken Hitchcock stymied the Pens' long stretch passes in the last two games.  Even though Bylsma is stubborn to adjust, those guys are good coaches so it's not a complete shock that they may have small tactical advantages.  Craig Berube probably looks up to Dale Hunter as one of his intellectual idols.

This should be a gift to the City of Pittsburgh.

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