After a day of rest, the Flyers and Penguins took the ice again for their second of eight meetings this season. The Flyers came away with two wins after posting another impressive score of 5-2. Welcome to the Pod Street Postgame, as we walk you through some takeaways from their victory over the Penguins.
Scoring came from three different players. Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov provided the first three goals in the first period, Konecny scored 2. Philadelphia went up 3-0, and then the Penguins came roaring back. They scored two before the end of the period. Once again, Sydney Crosby and Brandon Tanev provided the two tallies for Pittsburgh, which is their second straight game with a goal. The game was at a stalemate of 3-2 until Konecny had a puck go off his skate to secure his first career NHL hat-trick. Oskar Lindblom secured the win with an empty net goal late in the third period.
Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, and James van Riemsdyk each collected 2 assists a piece. Carter Hart made 31 saves out of 34 shots from the Penguins. The Flyers have now outscored the Penguins 11-5 in their first two matchups of the season.
Flyers versus Penguins : Three Takeaways
Puck Possession is Key
The Flyers dominated about 90% of the first period until the Penguins started putting pucks in the net. If the Flyers want to continue with the success that has them on a two game winning streak, they are going to have to learn how to control the puck and win the puck battles.
For the first two games, the Flyers have struggled with controlling the puck in the offensive and neutral zones. Opposing players are beating the Flyers to pucks and winning the battles along the boards to turn the play the other way. When asked about the five-on-five play during game one, Alain Vigneault had this to say:
“There is no doubt that we spent more time in our zone than necessary last game. That has to do with in my estimation puck battles and better execution. We need to be stronger in those two areas. That’s going to permit us to spend less time in our zone.”Alain Vigneault, Postgame Press Conference
Even though Vigneault was aware of the struggles from last game, it does not look like he was able to address the problem over the past two days to translate to tonight’s game. The Penguins are a very skilled team and there are even more skilled teams in the east. If the Flyers aren’t able to clean up the puck battles and giveaways, they might not be on the winning side of the game. Here’s a hint : “Get pucks deep!”
Defense Wins Games
Legendary coach Bear Bryant of Alabama football said it best, “Defense wins championships”. We’re obviously not talking about a championship right now, but defense obviously wins games. During this Pittsburgh series, the Flyers defense has not looked all that great despite the outcome of the games.
There have been too many opportunities for the Penguins where the Flyers would not pick up the late man and he would have a scoring opportunity from the slot. There have been other instances of the wingers getting behind the defenseman and having a one-on-one with Carter Hart. The below sequence was an opportunity for Penguins Jason Zucker that was sprung on an extended pass that got him a step behind the defenseman.
If it wasn’t for the stellar play of Carter Hart, who knows how this game may have turned out. Hart had bailed out this defense more tonight that I have seen in a while. Both teams played very sloppy, but the defense needs to shore up a little bit more. Picking up the late man and not getting mesmerized by the little black puck on the other side of the ice are all key ingredients in winning games, and yes maybe in the future, championships.
Battle of Pennsylvania Powderkeg
As Philadelphia Flyers fans, we all know how excited and anxious it is when the Flyers meet up with the inter state rivals, the Penguins. The 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs is obviously still fresh in everyone’s mind as well as that cold and rainy February night at Lincoln Financial Field during the 2019 Stadium Series Game. The rivalry has become so intense at times that you can feel the intensity through the television sitting at home.
On Wednesday night’s game, the rough housing and the hitting was kept to a minimum. The second game however, was quite the opposite. Pittsburgh came out in the first period hitting anything in black that even came close to the puck. They finished off the game with 31 hits compared to the Flyers 25. As the game went on, so did the little skirmishes that we all love to see after the whistle.
Expect this rivalry to get even more heated as the season goes on, especially in the second half of the back-to-back games. The powder keg of Pennsylvania is getting close to exploding and if the rest of the eight game series is anything like tonight’s game, we’ll all be in for a treat.
Philadelphia obviously has some kinks to work out, but what are we to expect with the second game? The offense is getting the right bounces and somehow the puck is going in the net. In the past two games, we’ve had butt goals, noggin goals, goals that go off of skates in weird ways and absolute snipes. A goal is a goal, but as long as the defense doesn’t have to depend on Carter Hart to bail them out all game, this team will do just fine. The Flyers are catching the eyes of the NHL mainstream media and are now tied for first. Neck and neck with Washington seems pretty familiar from last year doesn’t it? Finishing their series with Washington, the Buffalo Sabres will be traveling to Philadelphia to take them on a true back to back.
The next game for the Flyers and Sabres is Monday, January 18th with puck drop at 7:00 PM. Let’s keep this streak rolling!
Photo Credit – Nicole Fridling/Icon Sportswire