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Insider Only Game 1 Analysis: Penguins Looked like a club not just making a statement to the Flyers but to the rest of the NHL

Penguins 7 – Flyers 0

(PIT LEADS SERIES, 1-0)

GAME LEADERS

Matt Murray | 24 Saves, 1.000 SV%
Sidney Crosby | 3 Goals, +5
Jake Guentzel | Goal, 3 Assists, +4
Evgeni Malkin | Goal, +2
Carl Hagelin | Goal, Assist
Bryan Rust | Goal, +5


The Pittsburgh Penguins put on a show in Game 1 of playoffs with a 7-0 victory at the PPG Paints Arena to take a 1-0 series lead.

Tonight sure looked like a statement to the rest of the Eastern Conference from the Defending Champions that the road still goes through Pittsburgh.

Superior Depth…..Superior Goaltender……Superior 1-3 Punch at Center Position…….

All of those key areas the Penguins flexed their muscles in putting on the type of performance they did.

The Penguins and Flyers were just separated by two points this season but it was clear coming into this series the gap was much bigger than two points.

The playoffs are always a different ballgame and momentum rarely carries over to the next game but the areas the Penguins were so good at today were areas entering the series the Penguins had an advantage or even significant advantage like goaltending, speed/transition game and the obvious being the center position.


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Center Advantage:

Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby had some magical moments, highlighted by Sidney Crosby netting a hat trick tonight.

Starting with Malkin, he was a man possessed and brought down the house with a backhand goal off the rush at 14:09 of the first period to put the Penguins ahead 3-0. He almost scored a more spectacular goal in the second period.

Philadelphia had no answer for Malkin, while Sidney Crosby was doing Sidney Crosby things again in batting a puck past Brian Elliott on the doorstep to end Elliott’s night before even the 10 minute mark of the second period.

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Crosby would then add two more in the third period for a three goal night.

Malkin and Crosby combined for 4 goals and +6 rating.

Three of the Flyers most important players in this series, Claude Giroux (0 Pts, -4), Sean Couturier (0 Pts, -4) and Shayne Gostisbehere (0 Pts, -4) were a combined minus-12.

The Derick Brassard dimension to the lineup was also on display. His 200 foot game was phenomenal.

Things went about expected with Malkin/Crosby proving as obvious matchup problems for the Flyers and having Derick Brassard in as the third line center just overwhelmed the Flyers.

As for Sidney Crosby, there’s been something different with him these last two weeks where he could be en route to a special postseason run for him individually.


Depth/Speed Game

You know its the playoffs when Big Game Bryan Rust scores 2:08 into the game and then Carl Hagelin puts the Penguins up 2-0 around the mid-way mark of the first.

Hagelin over the past 2-3 months has resembled the player he was during the HBK days during the 2016 playoff run and that continued in Game 1 tonight with a goal, assist and his usual presence on the forecheck.

Philadelphia has to rely on their defense to join the attack to create consistent offense, but the Penguins speed game had Philadelphia’s ‘D’ having to retreat far too often in the first forty minutes of the game before the Penguins started playing a prevent defense in the third period.

Then there’s Jake Guentzel who has that special ability to rise to the occasion during playoff time.

Guentzel shined in the win with a goal, 3 assists.


Penguins Significant Goaltending Advantage Played Out

The Matt Murray doubters will be quiet for a day or two.

Murray had a ton of goal support tonight but it doesn’t take a thing away from how sound in goal he was in collecting his 5th career playoff shutout.

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Murray was exceptional in tracking pucks through traffic. How good he was in tracking the puck was even more impressive than his sprawling first period save.

There was a minute stretch early in the second period where Murray faced four long shots with great traffic in front and Murray didn’t allow a single rebound.

When Murray’s on, he’s on like that with pucks hitting him in the chest and he’s playing big.

The Flyers were going to need a perfect shot to beat him.

Starting with Matt Murray, the Penguins were in playoff mode and the Flyers got a good taste tonight of how when the Penguins show up like this, there’s nothing the Flyers can do.

Murray has improved to 23-9 all-time in the playoffs and 14-2 at home. His career playoff save percentage is now .930.

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About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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