Undisciplined Second Keeps Pens Alive
Following a blowout win in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, The Pittsburgh Penguins will live to fight another day. However, they need to thank the Philadelphia Flyers for that.
Despite opening the scoring early in the game, the team managed to blow the lead twice in the first period, the first time in this series that they have done so.
While there are several reasons why the Flyers failed to close out round one on Wednesday night, the biggest factor had to have been their undisciplined play in the second period.
In total, the team registered 16 minutes of penalty time in the 20-minute stanza, which is absolutely mind-boggling. The second opened on the wrong foot when a Matt Carle interference penalty carried over from the first. Even with the penalty at the start, the team managed to kill it off.
However, they wouldn’t be so lucky with the slew of penalties that followed.
Immediately after the Carle penalty (51 seconds to be exact), Claude Giroux was called for high sticking. From there, Game 4 effectively ended when 16 seconds later Kris Letang increased the Penguins lead to two with a perfect shot over Ilya Bryzgalov’s shoulder.
The goal, the fifth against Bryzgalov, marked the end of his night. In came Sergei Bobrovksy but the penalty problems stayed just the same, as did the Penguins’ scoring touch.
Two minutes into Bobrovsky’s shift, Nicklas Grossmann was called for tripping. Shortly after that, Jordan Staal scored his second goal of the game.
One minute after that, Carle was called for another penalty and Steve Sullivan blasted the Penguins fourth power play goal of the game past Bobrovsky.
The Flyers ultimately went on to record four more minor penalties in the period, the most egregious of which came from Zac Rinaldo when he mugged Zbynek Michalek and was kicked out of the game, in addition to being called for a double-minor.
There is little doubt that Rinaldo will be receiving a call from Brendan Shanahan and will not be available to play in Game 5.
In total, the team took seven penalties, had to kill off six power plays and allowed five goals in the second period, a far cry from the Flyers team that had shown up in the first three games.
Coming into this series, many stated that special teams would be a huge factor that could favor the Penguins. Ultimately that was fully on display in Game 4.
The Flyers penalty kill did a terrible job of cutting down on the Penguins passing lanes. Far too often, Pittsburgh was able to spread the ice surface and connect on long-range passes that forced the Philadelphia goaltenders to move side-to-side.
Ultimately, it was the difference in the game.
With so much special teams play in the second, the team had to shorten the bench, play their penalty kill unit an absurd amount of minutes and ruined any semblance of flow the lines possibly had.
In the past, Peter Laviolette has stated that when the team takes a lot of penalties it cripples the team’s rhythm. That absolutely happened on Wednesday.
The Flyers had little to no chances in the second but allowed five goals in the 20-minute span. No surprise they lost the game.
At the end of the day, this is the benefit of having a 3-0 series lead. While the Penguins recorded their first win of the series in a commanding fashion, they still need to win three more games to end the series.
While 10 goals is a lot, it won’t matter if the Flyers are able to win one more game.
Philadelphia has earned some room for error. Pittsburgh has none.
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