Even though they didn't make the playoffs, for example, I fully expect the New York Rangers to be on this week, and since I'll have a choice of several games being played simultaneously, I imagine the Penguins and Flyers will be low on my priority list (familiarity breeds contempt?). Will Pittsburgh make it two wins in a row tonight as they host Game 2? "I think personnel has changed". You have holes in your game and that team is going to drive a truck through them - and they did.
Philadelphia head coach Dave Hakstol gave the starting nod to Brian Elliott in Game 1, but he was downright very bad in giving up five goals on 19 shots before being yanked nine minutes into the second period. The two wild cards are Columbus Blue Jackets and New Jersey Devils. "In general, we need to be better". The Bruins are still firing away with Bergeron, Chara, Krejci, Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask, but they have a slew of young talent making key contributions.
Pittsburgh's big move at the trade deadline was to bring in Derick Brassard from Ottawa to centre the third line. It won't be an easy route for them, but they have a team that could surprise a lot of hockey fans. Most of the players that the team selected were players that most people haven't heard of. Over is 6-0 in the last 6 meetings and Flyers are 0-5 in the last 5 meetings and Flyers are 1-6 in the last 7 meetings in Pittsburgh. Coach Mike Sullivan clearly knows how to pull the right levers, and the Pens are practically old hands at this whole championship thing. Defensively, the Penguins are yielding 3.0 goals and 80.0 penalty kill percentage per game.
It's a unsafe lineup as any, and with a steller Matt Murray in net, the Penguins are tough exit for anyone in a seven-game series.
The Nashville Predators begin their quest to get back to the Stanley Cup Final against the Colorado Avalanche after riding one of the deepest lineups in all of hockey and Vezina candidate Pekka Rinne to the President's Trophy. "Everybody just has to be better".
Moments later, Hagelin expertly redirected Patric Hornqvist's shot past Elliott 10:07 into the game. "Obviously there are going to be some penalties during the series, but you don't want to give them too many opportunities because the game can swing with one power play for them". The former shutdown ace has become a two-way force, putting up career offensive numbers while maintaining his beefy possession stats. Claude Giroux actually remembered what they're like. So was Shayne Gostisbehere.
Look, the Flyers probably can't play much worse and the Penguins can't play much better. The Flyers are 20-22 SU as the visiting team this season. If Toronto doesn't get solid play from their defense and goalie Frederik Andersen, then it may be a short playoff for them.
The Flyers just need to improve in some - OK, tons - of areas.
Special teams are never more crucial than in playoffs.
Still, goaltending was a big part of the story and Elliott was not sharp on Wednesday, resulting in coach Dave Hakstol pulling him after giving up five goals on 19 shots.
The Flyers scuffled through most of the first, going 0-for-2 on the power play while Elliott looked quite shaky in net.
Five Things To Watch 1.
2 Number of Canadian teams in the postseason, which is less than California (three). Not a good combination. Still, they will come at Flyers with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel, and they can light it up as well as any team when they get off to a hot start.
The Penguins entered the Flyers' zone freely, with speed, down the centre of the ice and seemed to always have the puck. That happens to be the total wins necessary for the team to retain the Stanley Cup for a third straight season. Murray has endured a hard season both on and off the ice, but had a.923 save percentage in games against the Flyers.
The Flyers this season are 0-3-2 against Pittsburgh and have been outscored by the Penguins this season 27-11, including Wednesday night's debacle.
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