PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 11: Scott Hartnell #19 of the Philadelphia Flyers and Ben Lovejoy #6 of the Pittsburgh Penguins have words in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on April 11, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Game 1 wasn't a perfect win, but it was a win, and it put the Flyers in clear control of this Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. But just as quickly as Jake Voracek's OT goal gave the Flyers the edge, the Penguins could make it all a moot point and a five-game series tonight with a win.
Wednesday's game was cute. The Flyers got behind early and staged an awesome, fist-pump inducing victory. But there's no time for that tonight. In Game 2, they need to set the tempo early and take over both this hockey game and the series. They tried to get off on the right foot Wednesday. The opening shift was strong, but it didn't take long for Pittsburgh to boot that out the window.
The Flyers have the edge in every possible regard right now: The series lead, they're winning the matchup battle despite playing on the road, and they're apparently asserting some sort of mental control as well. And sure, even if Pittsburgh scores first tonight, the Flyers' ability to come back and win the game will be in the back of everybody's heads, but playing with a lead tonight would put the Flyers in an even better situation. A rare situation to be sure, but a very advantageous one.
It's time to take control of this series. Keep winning those matchup battles, keep shutting down Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The Penguins have been able to stop the Claude Giroux line so far as well, so it's probably going to come down to secondary scoring and special teams again tonight. Those are the keys to winning tonight's game, and I like the Flyers' chances if that's what decides whether or not they take a 2-0 series lead.
We're looking at the same lineups tonight as we saw in Game 1 aside from one change for the Flyers. Marc-Andre Bourdon was injured on Wednesday and will remain out tonight, giving Pavel Kubina a chance to get back into the lineup. The Flyers lose some speed on the bottom pairing with the switch, but his right-handed shot could be of use.
Matt Niskanen remains out for Pittsburgh on defense, so we're looking at the same lineup for them tonight. They tried tinkering with their power play a bit, so we'll see if that yields any results for them. The Flyers PK was as good as the Pens' PP was awful in Game 1, so it's important to a) stay out of the box and play to however the officials decide to call tonight's game and b) continue to keep the Pens off the scoresheet with the power play.
Flyers Expected Lineup
Hartnell - Giroux - Jagr
Schenn - Briere - Simmonds
Rinaldo/Voracek - Couturier - Talbot
Wellwood - Read - Voracek/Rinaldo
Timonen - Carle
Grossmann - Coburn
Kubina - Lilja
Pittsburgh Expected Lineup
Kunitz - Malkin - Neal
Cooke - Staal - Kennedy
Sullivan - Crosby - Dupuis
Asham - Vitale - Adams
Letang - Martin
Michalek - Orpik
Engelland - Lovejoy
Let's do this, Flyers.