-The Penguins' top players have been bottled up quite a bit in term of offense a of late. Sidney Crosby has gone seven games without a goal while Evgeni Malkin has gone 10 games without a goal. We identify this as been as a two-fold problem.
First, Evgeni Malkin just isn't playing that well ... or at least as well as can fairly be expected of him. Yes, we realize he has played most of the season without James Neal. You can't discount the presence of a 40-goal scorer, especially when you consider the chemistry those two players have developed over the past few seasons. The likes of Chuck Kobasew, Jayson Megna and Matt D'Agostini just aren't going to cut it as replacements for Neal. That said, Malkin is an MVP. He can be fairly expected to raise the games of any linemate he is teamed with.
Second, with Malkin slumping, opposing teams have been able to put their best defensive centers and blueline pairings on Crosby most of the time, especially when the Penguins are the road teams. Take a look at the shift charts for Saturday's Penguins-Blues game which are available at ShiftChart.com. Blues center David Backes as well as defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo were on the ice for nearly every second Crosby was. The same thing happed for much of last Wednesday's game against the Rangers in New York as Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi limited Crosby's chances.
-With Malkin not giving the opposition any reason to load up defensively on him, Crosby has faced the bulk of the toughest defensive matchups this season. Crosby was able to succeed most of October despite that but it appears he is starting to have some difficulty as of late.
-One way to break out of any scoring slump is to face a goaltender with an .879 save percentage such as Ray Emery who is expected to get the start in the Flyers' net to night. He has not been a strong asset for the Flyers this season but considering they were on the road last night in Ottawa and Steve Mason earned a 5-0 shutout against the Senators, the Flyers really don't have much of a choice to start Emery.
-The Flyers don't really have a "shut down" defensive pairing like Bouwmeester-Pietrangelo or McDonagh-Girardi. And we mean that in terms of skill or application. The three pairings used last night of Kimmo Timonen-Braydon Coburn, Nicklas Grossman-Mark Streit, Luke Schenn-Erik Gustafsson are essentially "fast, skilled guy/slow, tough guy" pairings.
-The travel from Ottawa to Pittsburgh could be a factor too. You might not think Ottawa to Pittsburgh is a grueling trek, but when you consider the arena from Ottawa is a good distance from the airport by road then the delay of going through customs, it's a much longer trip than you might realize. The Flyers probably didn't get into town until very early this morning. They didn't even have an optional morning skate today. They might be running on fumes tonight.
-The Flyers fourth line last night was Zac Rinaldo, Adam Hall and Jay Rosehill. Considering Hall, a former Penguin, is the "skill" guy on that line, don't expect to see them out there for anything other than mayhem.
-Claude Giroux comes to town with only one goal on his resume, only two fewer than Malkin we might add. We don't ever expect anyone in Pittsburgh to have sympathy for Giroux and his misfortune, but we feel the "best player in the world" tag on him has gotten to be unfair.
-If you recall, after the Flyers eliminated the Penguins in Game 6 of a wild Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, former Flyers coach Peter Laviolette deemed Giroux "the best player in the world" after he had decidedly out-played Crosby. Since then, Giroux has missed the playoffs in 2012-13 and gotten off to a horrendous start this season.
-Even if he has struggled badly this season, we would consider Giroux capable of being the 20 best players in the NHL. And just because he is not literally "the best player in the world" he gets ridiculed for that. He didnt' ask for his coach to make that outrageous boast in the heat of the moment. Giroux could win the Hart Trophy or go to the Hockey Hall of Fame and he'll still be mocked for that title.
-A new sheet of ice was laid down in Consol Energy Center after the circus was in town last week. It will be interesting to see if it impacts play at all.
-We're starting to see more and more of these, Olli Maatta:
-There are plenty of Flyers fans on hand. Claude Giroux.
-The always rare John LeClair/Jeff Carter pairing:
-Note Penguins fan Cy Clark (AKA "Malkinmania") is on hand after a hiatus:
-There's always a Craig Adams fan:
-Former Penguins/Flyers favorite Rick Tocchet:
-Normally, a jersey of Jeff Norton - the other half of the Rich Pilon Mario Lemieux statue - would be jersey of the night:
-But we have to go with former Penguins/Flyers forward Alexandre Daigle:
-The Penguins wore camouflage jerseys for warm-ups in recognition of Veterans' Day.
-The Penguins' starters are Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, Deryk Engelland, Brooks Orpik and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scratches are Dustin Jeffrey, Paul Martin and Jayson Megna.
-The Flyers' starters are Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Jakub Voracek, Braydon Coburn, Kimmo Timonen and Ray Emery.
-Their scratches are Hal Gill, Andrej Meszaros and Michael Raffl.
-No Jimerson. No photo.
19:41: Well that didn't take long. Taking a pass from Kunitz in the defensive zone, Crosby races up the ice two-on-two with Dupuis against Timonen and Coburn. Crosby lifts a wrister from the left circle which Emery stops initially. Timon ties up Dupuis and allows a rebound to sit alone in the slot. Kunitz races in from the neutral zone and backhand chops it on net. Emery makes that save Kunitz follows through on the rebound and guides it into the net with his right skate. The officials rule a goal on the ice. but consult the video replay. Kunitz appear to flick his right skate towards the puck and forced it by Emery's blocker. After a lengthy review, officials overturn the goal call. It's the right decision. Kunitz kicked it in. The Flyers get a break.
18:52: Malkin flicks a backhanded pass from the right wing to Neal on the left wing. Neal rips a pedestrian wrister on net which Emery boots a way.
17:41: Off a steal by Crosby, Kunitz puyts a low one-timer from the left circle on net.
17:27: Off a feed by Crosby, Robert Bortuzzo rips a wrister from the above the right cirlce. Emery makes the save but allows a rebound to squirt and glance off the near post.
16:15: Working with a little space ont he right wing, Letang cranks a slapper on net. Emery hugs it against his chest and stops play.
15:42: Niskane steusp up Wayne Simmons with a stiff shoulder check at the Penguins' blue line.
15:21: Picking up a loose puck in the neutral zone, Voracek lifts a wrister on net from the right point. Fleury steers it away easily.
14:44: Corralling a loose puck above the right circle, Engelland cranks a slapper which Emery punches away with his blocker.
14:06: Off a neutral zone steal, Matt Read lifts a wrister from the left point. Fleury fights that off.
12:43: Off a steal in the offensive zone by Jokinen, Adams taps a feed on net from the slot. Emery eats it up.
12:32: Malkin chips a backhander feed from the right wing to Letang on the left wing. Letang has to adjust for a bouncing puck and jabs a half/one-timer wide on the near side.
11:14: Matt D'Agostini chips a wrister from the right wing to the far side. Emery kicks it away.
10:56: Playing a puck behind the net, Brayden Schenn trips up Fleury. A penalty is called. Bortuzzo gives grief to Schenn. Simmonds grab a hold of Bortuzzo and tries to goad him into retaliating. A scrum ensues. Official breakt it up and sent Schenn to the penalty box for interference. Crosby, Neal, Malkin, Letang and Kunitz take the ice.
8:56: Two minutes later, the Penguins accomplished nothing with that power play. They didn't even record a shot. The Flyers cleared it a handful of times however.
7:44: Engelland snaps off a wrister from the right point wide on the near side.
7:38: Voracek is on the bench in some discomfort following a collision in the Penguins' zone with Orpik.
6:15: Bortuzzo swipes a one-timer from the right wing wide on the near side.
5:20: Read gains the offensive zone on the left wing and snaps off a wrister from the point. Fleury snags it.
4:27: Off a feed by Giroux, Timonen booms a one-timer form the top of the left circle and has it blocked by a sliding Tanner Glass.
3:58: Bortuzzo collects a puck in his own left wing corner. He holds it for a few seconds and simply loses it on a hit into the boards by Simmons. Simmons takes control deals to Brayden Schenn in the left circle. Scehnn takes the pass, grips and rips a writer by Fleury's glove hand on the far side. Yikes. Bortuzzo simply lost a one-on-one battle in decided fashion. His partner, Engelland, was completely lost in space in supporting him and defending Schenn. What an awful play. Simmonds get the only assist. Flyers 1-0.
2:12: Crosby has a wrister from the slot blocked by a backchecking Voracek.
2:09: Maatta golfs a one-timer from the right point wide of the cage.
1:33: A one-timer by Coburn from the right point is fought off by Fleury.
0:00: End of period. Flyers 1, Penguins 0.
-The Penguins outright dominated the first 10 minutes of that period. Play eventually leveled off and the Flyers took advantage of a mistake to take the lead.
-We're not sure if Bortuzzo and Engelland were in the middle of a line change or if the coaching staff put them out there on purpose but they did not look comfortable with one another on that goal.
-The Penguins' power play was pretty ugly during its one chance that period. It could barely even maintain possession in the offensive zone.
-After a bit of a shaky start, the Emery settled down. He gave his team a chance to take the lead.
-For the most part, emotions have been held in check by both teams. There have been a few solid hits but nothing over the top after the whistle.
-The Penguins have a commanding 16-8 lead in shots on net.
-The Penguins have a 23-17 lead in attempted shots.
-Read leads the game with four shots.
-Letang and Kunitz each lead the Penguins with three shots.
-Coburn leads the game with 8:26 of ice time.
-Niskanen leads the Penguins with 8:21.
-The Flyers have a 12-7 lead in faceoffs (63 percent).
-Vincent Lecavalier and Brandon Sutter are each 4 for 5 (80 percent).
19:14: D'Agostini appears to get away with a trip on Hartnell in the Flyers' zone.
18:19: Grossman rips a wrister from the right point wide to the far side.
16:31: Off an offensive zone faceoff wing, Timonen tees up a slapper from the left point and puts it wide of the cage.
15:42: Hartnell flings a wrister from the left wing. Fleury fights it off.
15:37: Grossman chops a puck from the left point. It hits something in front. Engelland chips it off the boards and out of danger.
15:29: Off a drop pass by Beau Bennett, Sutter rips a wrister from the left half wall which is partially blocked.
14:07: Lecavalier chucks a wrister from the left circle on net. Fleury boots it out with his left skate.
13:47: Gustafsson gains the offensive zone on the left wing and booms a slapper. Fleury kicks it out.
13:09: Another power ply for the Penguins. Rosehill knocks Adams down from behind in the slot. That's two minutes for interference. Crosby, Malkin, Kneal, Letang an dKuntiz tak eh ice.
13:01: Off some strong puck movement, Letang chops a one-timer from the right circle. Emery slides to his right and kicks it out.
12:26: Corsby and Letang each have a chance in tight but can't get a clean shot off.
11:31: Wow. Just wow. Taking a pass on the right wall, Malkin taps a pas to Crosby position just above the bpule paint. Crosby has a little space on Grossman and re-directs the puck by Emery on the blocker side. What a pass by malkin. Malkin and Jokinen get assists. The "Hey Song" is played. Flyers 1, Penguins 1.
9:39: The great Joe Vitale rips a wrister from th aveo veht left circle. Gustafsson blocks it.
9:25: A spinning wrister by D'Agsotini from the slot is off the mark.
9:14: Another Penguins power play as Streit is called for high sticking the great Joe Vitale. Letang, Malkin, Crosby, Kunitz and Neal take the ice.
8:26: Off some perimeter puck movement, Crosby cops a one-timer from the right circle. Emery slides to his left and eats it up.
8:20: After some miscommunication between Fleury and one of his teammates, The Flyers steal an errant pass by Fleury from behind his own net. That results in a chance for Giroux on the doorstep but he fails to get a clean shot off.
7:41: Letang has a chance with a bouncing puck tot he left of the cage but fails to get a shot on net.
7:09: As the Streit minor expires, Jokinen directs a shot/pass from the right half wall. Malkin appears to re-direct it on net but Emery fights it off.
5:25: Couturier gives Malkin a shove from behind into the right corner boards of the Flyers' zone. Malkin gets up and they exchange shoves. Neither party seems interested in fighting.
4:46: After Streit loses control of thepuck on a spin move at the Penguins' blue line, Crosby picks it up and is off on a breakaway up the right wing. He races in on net and shoots low. Emery boots it away.
4:29: The Flyers swill get their first power play of the game as Engelland is called for hooking Voracek. Sutter, Adams, Letang and Orpik take the ice.
4:20: Couturier sneaks up the left wing and flings a wrister on net. Fleury eats it up despite a screen.
2:50: The hole gets a little deeper for the Penguins as Dupuis is called for slashing Giroux which forechecking in the Flyers' zone. Giroux seemed to wave his hand as if to s how some discomfort from the slash. As that goes on. Hartnell and Bortuzzo head to the penalty boxes too after mixing it up in the Penguins' zone. Bortuzzo cross checked Hartnell while Hartnell responded with a stick swing. They get cross-checking and slashing minors respectively. The Flyers will have a five-on-three for 21 seconds. Orpik, Sutter and Adams take the ice.
2:39: Lecavalier has a chance in the right circle but Adams flops down and blocks it with his back. Ouch.
2:29: Engelland's minor expires. The Flyers will have 1:39 of power play time on a five on four remaining.
1:20: The Flyers cash in. Voracek takes a pass at center point and chops a slapper at the cage. It hits something front. Bradyen Schenn has some space on Letang and tucks the puck into the open by an out-of-place Fleury. Letang lost track of Schenn who darted near the crease as Voracek released the shot. Downie and voracek get assists. Flyers 2-1.
0:00: End of period. As the clocks expires. Crosby ties to tuck a backhander in by Emery from the left of the net. Emery holds it out. Crosby and Grossman mix it up afterwards. Officials break it up an and send each team to their dressing rooms. Flyers 2, Penguins 1.
-Special teams dictated that period. Each team made the most out of its power play chances.
-The Flyers controlled puck possession for the first seven or eight minutes of the period. They didn't get many cleans shots on net, but they kept the Penguins out of their own zone.
-Things got a little bit chippier in that period. There were a few more post-whistle disputes.
-Emery wasn't tested nearly as much that period but he continues to play lights out.
-The Penguins' top two lines didn't generate much in five-on-five play that period.
-The Penguins have a 25-18 lead in shots on net.
-The Penguins have a 42-34 lead in attempted shots.
-Crosby leads the game with six shots.
-Read leads the Flyers with five shots.
-Letang leads the game with 19:11 of ice time.
-Coburn lead the Flyers with 17:36 of ice time.
-The Flyers have a 22-16 lead in faceoffs (58 percent).
-Lecavalier is 7 for 10 (70 percent).
-Sutter is 5 for 10 (50 percent).
-Glass leads the game with three blocked shots.
-Gustafsson and Rinaldo each lead the Flyers with two blocked shots.
-Malkin is on the cover of IceTime:
18:11: Collecting a loose puck at the high slot, Simmonds chops a slapper on net. Fleury eats it up.
17:56: Operating with a liee psace on the left wing, Dupuis whacks a slapper on net from the left circle. Emery knocks it dead and covers to freeze play. Attendance is announced as 18,656. It is the team's 296th consecutive sellout.
15:50: After a second icing call in a matter of 22 seconds, the Penguins call a time out to get a breather and possible to get a little organized. They have had trouble thus far this period getting the puck out of their own zone.
15:23: Voracek chops a slapper from the left wing wide to the far side.
14:19: Dupuis snaps off a wrister from a bad angl on the right wing. Emery kicks it out.
13:14: The Penguins will get a chance to tie the game as Crosby is tripped up by Couturier in the Penguins' zone. Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz, Letang and Neal take the ice.
12:50: Off a little give and go from Malkin off the left wing, Neal taps a shot from the slot wide to the left of the cage.
12:16: Off a drop pass by Letang, Malkin rockets a one-timer from above the left circle wide to the far side.
11:52: Neal lifts a wrister from the right circle wide to the far side.
11:34: Malkin loses a puck battle with Timonen, hardly a bulldozer of a man, behind the Flyers net. That allows the Flyers to clear the puck.
11:14: The Couturier minor is killed. The Penguins looked pretty weak with that chance despite attempting several shots.
10:21: With a little space on the right wing Bennett golfs a slapper on net. Emery eats it up.
9:45: Orpik is takign a shift with Maatta.
9:19: Timonen sneaks up the left wing and lifts a wristr on net. Fleury fights it off.
8:52: Racing into the offensive zone with a few snazzy move, Malkin lifts a wrister from above the left circle. Emery snags the puck with a sneaky glove save.
8:20: Neal snaps off a wrister from above the left circle. Emery gloves it down.
8:15: Niskakenn chucks a wrister on net from the left point. Grossman blocks it.
7:52: Dupuis snaps off a wrister from a bad angle eon the left wing. Emery hugs the post and kicks it out.
6:34: The Penguins miss on a big opportunity. Attempted to make a line change, The Flyers dump the puck but do so weakly. Bortuzzo intercepts the dump and tries to feed a pass to Neal at the Flyers blue line. The pass has a little too much velocity on it and Neal ends up overskating it and putting himself offsides. He and Malkin are forced to retreat off the puck and allow the Flyers to recover it. Neal had an acre of ice to work with off the right wing.
5:01: Weaving his way into the offensive zone, Neal releases a wrister from above the left circle over the cage.
4:41: Off a feed by Malkin, Orpik in deep and snaps off a wrister from low in the right circle. Emery fights it off. Tough save.
2:16: Letang has a wrister from the left circle blocked out of lay by the long reach of Coburn.
1:24: With Fleury pulled, Nisaknen whacks a slapper from the right point wide to the near side..
1:14: Read airmails a puck at the openc cage juuuust wide to the right of it.
0:06: Malkin controls the puck behind the Philadelphia net and deals it to the slot. A few Penguins have a chance in front but can't get a stick on it.
0:00: End of game. Flyers 2, Penguins 1.
-For a team with two former Art Ross Trophy winners, three goals in three games - all on the power play - is woefully inadequate. There's no excuse that can justify that limited amount of production. We know Paul Martin is injured and means quite a bit to this team, but he doesn't mean that much to this team.
-Part of it strikes us as simply being a bad spell of games. Over the course of 82 games, a lot of things can happen, including a three-game losing streak in which the offense struggles. Another part strikes us as this team simply isn't putting a ton of quality shots on net.
-There was an assumption that once James Neal returned, he would reunite with Evgeni Malkin and they would start filling the net with pucks. They had a few chances in St. Louis Saturday but tonight, the just didn't display much chemistry whatsoever. So many of their scoring chances were either off the net or of a low quality. They need to reestablish their chemistry immediately.
-The first line generated a few chances five-on-five but it just didn't seem to click the way we're accustomed too.
-At t his point, even if its for a shift or two, why not shuffle the first two lines just to shake them out of this funk? We're not big "change for the sake of change" proponents but what have these two lines done to justify a lack of change the past handful of games?
-The disallowed goal by Chris Kunitz was huge in terms of how this game went. The Penguins had all the momentum less than half a minute into the game. They had lead and the barn was rocking then their balloon was popped by the video review which correctly overturned the goal. A one-goal lead that early would have changed the course of this game.
-The Penguins put A LOT of quality scoring chances on net early. And Emery even seemed a little shaky with a few iffy rebounds. The Penguins just simply didn't capitalize on them.
-The power play was maddening tonight. On the goal they did score, it looked dazzling. On the two chances they didn't convert, it was putrid. There was no in between.
-Emery wasn't forced to stand on his head a great deal tonight. The Flyers managed to keep most of the Penguins' scoring chances to the perimeter as the game wore on. But he seemed settle down as the game wore one and gave his team a reliable presence in net. He looked very confident.
-He came up huge on a breakaway by Sidney Crosby in the second period. Said Emery, “He kind of came from the side. I know he likes that quick five hole shot sometimes. Either that or he likes his backhand. I kind of got a pad on it."
-A breakdown on a puck battle once again led to a key goal. Robert Bortuzzo simply was flat-out beaten by Wayne Simmonds for a puck on the end boards of the Penguins zone. Deryk Engelland didn't really support the play very well and Brayden Schenn ripped a nice wrister by a screened Marc-Andre Fleury. We wonder how much the injuries and the shuffling on defense has impacted the cohesion on the blue line.
-Engelland had a rough game given how he defended Brayden Schenn's first goal and a hooking minor he took. He's actually played much better as a forward this season than he has on defense.
-The penguins' third line has given this team next to nothing this season. Brandon Sutter and Chuck Kobasew have each had a few nice individual plays but there has been little in the way of chemistry much of this season. That trend continued tonight.
-This was a very tame game considering the history between these two teams. Flyers coach Craig Berube, he of the seventh most penalty minutes in NHL history with 3,149 said, "It was a disciplined hockey game. I’m not a big fan of them other games to be honest with you. I want to play disciplined hockey, smart hockey. It’s fine by me. “
-The Penguins had a 31-21 advantage in shots on net.
-The Penguins had a 65-45 advantage in attempted shots.
-Crosby led the game with six shots.
-Matt Read lead the Flyers with five shots.
-Kris Letang led the game with 28:37 of ice time.
-Braydon Coburn led the Flyers with 28:31.
-The Flyers had a 34-27 lead in faceoffs (56 percent).
-The Penguins went 9 for 23 in offensive zone faceoffs (39 percent). Ick.
-Vincent Lecavalier was 10 for 13 (77 percent).
-The great Joe Vitale was 5 for 6 (83 percent).
-Mark Streit and Tanner Glass each led the game with three blocked shots.
-Crosby recorded his 30th career goal against the Penguins.
-Malkin extended an assist streak to six games.