Tonight we had the on-ice answer to the question on the shirts of the Flyers faithful: Why Not Us! Although they wrote it with an exclamation point, I like to think it's really a deep seeded insecurity that is really a question. Heck, it even sounds whiny when phrased as a question.
Why Not Us? I'll tell you why:
You're a bunch of crybaby fans (see the first penalty to Hatcher) who cheer for a team that think that Vengeance Now is a great slogan. Here's a hint - that slogan belongs in the Indoor Lacrosse League, not the NHL. The Broad Street Bullies were good 35 years ago. They're not coming back. The game isn't about rough and tumble clutching and grabbing anymore. As long as you employ bruisers like Hatcher, Hartnell, Cote and Downie, and play a style that resembles rugby, you'll never be successful.
On the ice, the Flyers simply haven't been good enough to beat the Pens. The Philly guys played a decent Game 2 and weren't bad for much of Game 3. It just isn't enough right now. The Pens are playing too well. Hopefully the Pens can keep things that way (I really believe it's up to the Pens - the Flyers just don't seem to have it).
Anyway, let's enjoy the win and hope the Pens can finish it in four. I don't want to see the Flyers have any life with a victory.
Both teams were noticeably tight as the game opened. The other way to say that is they were trying to measure out the other team and not over commit.
Fortunately for the Pens, Derian Hatcher decided he'd had enough of this reserved nonsense and hooked Malkin from behind, putting the Pens on the power play.
Before I get to the power play, however, I have to say something about the fans in Philly: I've never seen so many people cry so loudly over the first penalty of the game, and it wasn't even a questionable call. Holy cow - if they could have collected all the tears that were shed, they could have solved any drought conditions in the United States.
The Pens decided to try to drown those lovely people from Philly in their own tears by scoring on the very same power play. It was another lucky bounce off of a defensemen, with Biron cheating off of the post when he couldn't see the puck. It's not the first time that's happened. Part of it is a bad bounce, and part of it is a goaltender that doesn't stay at home long enough - he's trying to cheat over to the next shot. 1-0 Pens.
Just a little more than two minutes later, Marian Hossa showed us all why we traded for him. He took the puck from his own blue line all the way through a few Flyers into the offensive zone, where he ripped off a nasty shot along the ice that beat Biron. Great move, and it really got Hossa charged up. 2-0 Pens.
Umberger scored just after a power play for Philly had expired. Prospal went in wide behind the net and dumped it out in front. Malkin didn't tie up RJ and he was able to elevate the puck over a downed Fleury. 2-1 Pens.
There really wasn't much to write about for the second, and I mean that in the best possible way for the Pens. They held the Flyers to THREE shots for the period. It wasn't even their shutdown mode - it was just solid two-way play. They were still able to generate some offense. They had some chances. They were also able to keep Philly from seriously threatening.
The only thing missing from the first two periods was a bigger lead. The Pens had several chances to get that third goal but just couldn't do it. Hopefully that wouldn't cost them heading to the third.
The third was yet another compliment to the Pens. The Flyers managed 10 shots, but there wasn't really anything serious.
The biggest threat, I thought, came when Fleury played the puck from behind the net straight to Lupul at the half boards. I think if Joffrey had shot the puck right away, he may have beat Flower, who was still struggling to get back in front of the cage. Palindrome didn't do it, either because he didn't see that Fleury was still out of the play, or because the puck was bouncing on him. Either way, threat neutralized.
The Pens were able to add to their lead when everyone's favorite whipping boy, Steve Downie, turned the puck over just inside the offensive zone. Malkin took it the other way. It pinballed around until it wound up on the stick of Sykora, who passed / shot it on the backhand where it wound up on the stick of Ryan Malone, who beat Biron. Ouch. 3-1 Pens.
That goal was scored with 10 minutes left. Then it was time for shutdown mode. From the 11:00 mark to the end of the period, the Flyers managed only one shot on goal closer than 40 feet from the net. They had ZERO shots in the last 150 seconds of playing time (after the missed shot by Briere). The Pens have really done an excellent job of shutting teams down when protecting a lead.
Hossa managed his second goal of the game on an empty netter to give the Flyers fans an early jump on the exits. Pretty considerate of Marian. 4-1 Pens.