A lot of us entered today's game worrying about whether the Flyers could carry over momentum from yesterday. Obviously the Penguins were a little embarrassed by their complete failure in Philadelphia on Saturday, and as I noted in the preview, they have a really solid record at home.
Well those worries were dashed pretty darn quickly. The Flyers came out the gate incredibly strong, and it seemed like yesterday's game wasn't an aberration. Brayden Schenn got the scoring going just two minutes after puck drop, and Wayne Simmonds added two tallies to give the Flyers a solid 3-0 lead. The Pens eventually got one back though, after Brooks Orpik blasted a knuckle puck from the blue line, but at that point it seemed kind of like a consolation prize.
Other than the Orpik goal (which was a goofy fluke), the Flyers just completely dominated the Penguins in the first. If you need any evidence of that, take a look at this bad boy:
1st Period Scoring Chances Total: 11 to 1 Flyers EV: 4 to 1 Flyers— Andrew D (@Drewski89) March 16, 2014
The Flyers definitely let their foot off the gas a bit in the second, which eventually led to a Matt Niskanen goal, again, coming from the blue line. The boys were still winning, but sadly, it looked like we weren't going to see another blow out win.
After some back and forth scoring, the period ended with the Flyers holding a 4-3 lead. The strange thing is that even though the Flyers were winning the possession game, the Penguins were able to score more goals. The second period was a nice little example of how a team that isn't controlling play can still come out looking great by capitalizing on the few chances they get.
There's not really much to say about the third period -- a little bit of back and forth play with a few chances here and there. The Penguins, of course, pulled their goaltender and made a strong push to try and tie the game, but luckily that was all in vain as the Flyers skated to victory.
- It looked like the Flyers got a huge gift right before the game started when it was announced that Simon Despres would be scratched. Despres was by far the best player the Penguins had yesterday, so hearing about his absence had us all thinking that we'd see a repeat of Saturday's action. Sadly, that didn't end up being the case.
- Special teams were again the highlight of the Flyers game today. Wayne Simmonds was able to convert two goals on the power play (one a deflection and the other a result of some fancy pants stick handling down close), and Matt Read added another short-handed tally in the second period. In the past two games, the Flyers were able to score more goals on Pittsburgh power plays than the Penguins. When you consider that Pittsburgh has the best power play in the league, that fact looks really amazing for the Flyers and incredibly embarrassing for the Penguins. Good stuff.
- Steve Mason, as we've argued before, probably needs to sit. Sure, he got a shutout yesterday, but he didn't really face that many tough shots. Today he looked visibly shaky, even if some of the goals weren't his fault. At one point in the second period, he gave up two goals on only five shots, which is never a good sign. I understand why the Flyers keep playing what with a playoff berth not guaranteed, but overplaying him isn't a good strategy.
- It's pretty fun to watch the Penguins scramble to figure things out. By mid-way through the third period, Dan Bylsma had tried four different skaters on Sidney Crosby's left wing. I know they are still a dominant team in the league, but watching them struggle in any way gives me a welcome dose of schadenfreude.
- Given that the Flyers kind of eked out a win and didn't blow out the Penguins like yesterday, I think it's important to note just how well they actually played today. At no point were the Penguins able to get the advantage in shot attempts, and despite a few errors here and there, the overall game for the Flyers was pretty positive. We would be really lucky if they continue to play like that for the rest of the season.
Next game is Tuesday against the Blackhawks. Go Flyers.