Otherwise known as playing down to their level.
OFFENSE: D. The Pens really didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t generate a lot in this game. Sid played maybe his worst game of the year, even admitting he couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get his legs moving. Most of the other top players could say the same thing. The top two lines generated basically nothing all night. The Flyer defense is horrid, but the Pens rarely got a good forecheck established. It just seemed like they were not mentally into this. They essentially scored only one even strength goal, as two others came right after power plays. The plus was that they once again got contributions from unexpected sources. Of course, how long can we keep calling those sources Ã¢â‚¬Å“unexpected?Ã¢â‚¬ï¿¾ We are seeing the evolution of a balanced offensive attack. The energy guys keep coming through when the top guns are struggling. They were the only ones who looked impressive offensively in this one.
DEFENSE: D. They were fine through two periods, keeping the Flyers at bay at even strength. But the defense (and I mean team defense) was horrid in the third. They let the Flyers skate circles around them. The Flyers really ratcheted up the intensity in the third, and the Pens had no answer. Once the Pens got the two quick goals to start the third, they thought they had the game won. It seemed like only a matter of time before the Flyers tied it, and, sure enough, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s exactly what happened. The Flyers moved through the neutral zone with ease, and once they gained the zone, they peppered Fleury. You simply cannot back off like that, no matter who you are playing. Give the Flyers some credit, though, as they could have folded the tents, and they didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t. By the way, this grade applies to the team defense, not just the defensemen. This was a team collapse in the third.
POWER PLAY: A. As stated earlier, they got two goals at even strength that could have been considered PP goals, plus one on the power play. Amazingly, two of the three goals were by the second unit. The first unit was basically awful all game. Had there been a late power play, it would have been interesting to see if Therrien put the second unit on first. The first unit was making one ill-advised pass after another, and rarely got any good looks. But thanks in large part to Christensen and Staal, the second unit looked tremendous. They even got a goal with Orpik on the PP!
PENALTY KILL: F. Two out of five wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get it done. One was on a very bad goal by Fleury. You cannot let guys score from the goal line. The second was just a good play by Pitkanen and Floppa, feeding Gagne. That will happen. But the bottom line is the poor PK basically kept Philly in this game. One huge problem was they had numerous clearing attempts that did not get out of the zone, allowing the Flyers much more zone time than they should have had. In the recent winning streak, they have been very good at clearing the puck when they get a chance. Not so in this one.
GOALTENDING: A-. Fleury gets dinged a bit for the first goal (see PK above). Other than that, he was once again brilliant as his defense pretty much abandoned him. He stole these points for the Pens. He made several impossible saves in the third to keep the Pens ahead. Only two deflection goals where they didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t tie up Knuble in front got by him. And he was perfect in the shootout, if only by the hair on FloppaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ugly beard. As he has gained confidence, his performance in shootouts has also gotten better. He is so quick that he has to wait for guys to make the first move, and heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s doing that now.
OVERALL: C. Not a good effort at all. But they got a win despite the struggles of the top players. They should have had this one won, but sat back and let the Flyers dominate the third period. Play like this against a real team, and it will be ugly. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s twice this week they have had a third period lead and blown it. Yes, this is the New NHL, but you simply cannot let that happen with regularity. They are cooling off, or at least the warning signs are there. This is what happens at the end of a hot streak. Bad things start creeping in and then you go into a slide. Hopefully, they can prevent this.
DISCIPLINE: F. Three lazy, stupid penalties in the first period gave the Flyers power plays, two of which they converted. This let them hang around and think they had a chance. These are the types of penalties you simply cannot take against any team, let alone the woeful Flyers. They need to play smarter. If these were tough penalties like roughing or something, fine. RuutuÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s was borderline good, because he at least was battling for the puck. But Malone was standing still and was forced to trip Floppa, and Christensen was behind his man and took a useless hooking call.
NO-TOUCH ICING: A. After seeing the abominable call near the end where Pitkanen dummied the play and the buffoon linesman bought it, I am convinced we just need to take all judgment away from the clowns in stripes. Their horrendous call pretty much gave the Flyers the tying goal. I commented at the time that one complaint of new fans is they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t understand the rules. How the hell can they, when veteran fans donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even understand how the rules are applied?
BUFFOONS IN STRIPES: F. Yet again. Someday they will call a good game, but it likely wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be in my lifetime. If somebody can explain why StaalÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s first goal was waved off when Whitney was clearly pushed into Niittymaki, I will gladly listen. KnubleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s first goal should not have counted by this standard as he was right on top of Fleury and didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t allow him room to make the save. And then somebody (Carter, I think, gets hit by Petrovicky and absolutely runs Fleury, but no call. The fact is he went recklessly to the net and would have nailed Fleury even if Petro didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t hit him.
FLOPPA: A. Man, he was on last night. He played an awesome game. I just hope if they trade him, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s to the Western Conference. Because if he plays like that, look out.
RYAN MALONE: F. Right now, his only redeeming quality is great work on the PK. But he is no more a first line winger than Jay Caufield at this point. He cannot shoot off the pass. He always tries to go one on one and gives the puck away. He had one failed clear that led to 30 seconds of sustained Flyer pressure. Then he iced the puck (well, not really, but the buffoon linesman said he did) and that led to the tying goal. He really needs to be dealt to somebody that thinks they can make something out of him, because he just is not a top-two line player.
SIDNEY CROSBY: D. Would have been an F except for the shootout winner. Terrible game by him. He was only credited with three giveaways, but there were many more where he made bad passes. Just not his night.
KEITH JONES: F. He chose the three stars, but was obviously not watching the same game I was. Floppa had four assists and was clearly the best player out there, yet Gagne got the number one star. Okay, Keith, whatever.
JORDAN STAAL: A. The kid is unbelievable. He just knows where to be, and gets there a split second early because of his reach. I have often compared him to Keith Primeau, but in PrimeauÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s first two seasons combined (at a year older), he scored only 9 goals in 93 games.
RYAN WHITNEY: A. He has been dominant lately. How about that pass to Ouellet? Not too many d-men make that play.