After taking a surprising 3-0 series lead, the Penguins ran the Flyers out of their own building on Wednesday night, winning by a touchdown in a 10-3 victory. For three straight games, it was the Pens who had to pick up the pieces after their unexpected defeats. Now it is the Flyers turn.
Philadelphia will now need to regroup from a loss that, on top of being such an ugly final score, was also a missed oppurtunity to close out the series at home. They will also now have to deal with a Penguins team that, despite still being down 3-1, will have all the confidence in the world in winning game 5 in front of their home fans.
While right on par with the previous three games in it’s weirdness, game 4 played out in a way that many expected would happen before the series began. Pittsburgh’s stars were the best players on the ice, and for the first time in the series the Flyers had no response to their dominance. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal took the game over at almost the exact moment the Flyers scored two straight power-play goals to take a 3-2 lead in the first period.
From there, as the final score would indicate, it was all Pens. The visitors scored, and scored, and kept scoring, making the second half of the game look more like the so-called “garbage time” in a 50-point NBA blowout than a NHL playoff game between two heated rivals.
No Need To Panic…Yet
Being on the receiving end of a drubbing like that will certainly not sit well with the Flyers and may actually give them a greater wake-up call than had they just lost in a close affair. Although a game like that is one they will want to immediately remove from their memory bank, it was also a game that evidenced what Pittsburgh can do if the Flyers let them. Like Claude Giroux said after game 3, if there is one team that can come back from a 3-0 series deficit it would be Pittsburgh, and what happened Wednesday night made those words ring very true.
Having had such great success in Pittsburgh in the regular season and in games 1 and 2, the Flyers must return to paying closer attention to details as there were far too many defensive lapses in game 4.
A Bryz Through The Woods
Where as it was Marc-Andre Fleury who faced a heap of criticism after the first three games, Ilya Bryzgalov will be the goaltender under fire heading into game 5. Bryzgalov was pulled after allowing five goals on 18 shots in game 4, and unlike he had been able to do in the previous games, he could not come up with the saves to keep his team in the game.
With the eccentric and downright flaky personality of Bryzgalov, it is impossible to tell what frame of mind he is now in. He is likely to have put that game behind him as soon as he left the rink Wednesday night, but he is also just as likely to carry it with him on the car ride to game 5. One thing we know for certain when it comes to Bryzgalov, is that there will never be a boring moment with him in the Philadelphia crease.
Grossman Likely Out
The Flyers struggling defense may now face even bigger problems as Nicklas Grossman did not practice on Thursday and seems unlikely to play in game 5. Grossman was on the receiving end of hits by Evgeni Malkin and Tyler Kennedy that appeared to target his head, and although it is being described as an upper-body injury, it is being speculated to be a conussion. The injury would be devestating to the Flyers as Grossman has been rock-solid in his own zone ever since he was acquired from Dallas. His absence would also mean increased ice-time for the likes of Pavel Kubina and Andreas Lilja, both of which have had their lack of foot-speed exposed and exploited by the fleet-skating Pittsburgh attack.