The Pittsburgh Penguins (44-18-4, 92 pts) had a lackluster effort losing to the Philadelphia Flyers (34-25-7, 75 pts) 4-0 on Saturday afternoon in the first game of a home and home series. Matt Read scored twice and Philadelphia got excellent play from centers Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier in the win. Giroux had two assists and Couturier added two assists while shutting down Sidney Crosby, who was a minus-3 and had just two shots on goal in the loss.
The Flyers dominated from the opening faceoff and played with the momentum for all 60 minutes as the Penguins were never a threat in the game.
The Penguins have over 400 man games lost and Chris Kunitz was a late scratch after taking warmups. Pittsburgh was down their top-2 wingers in Kunitz and James Neal who is out indefinitely with a concussion.
However, just because the Penguins were missing some key players doesn’t mean you can’t be critical about their performance today.
“It’s something we’ve been dealing with all year, and we’ve found a way,” Sidney Crosby said of the Penguins injuries. “Now isn’t the time to make excuses.”
When the Penguins have been without several regulars at times this season, we’ve seen the AHL guys come in and play with a lot of intensity and the rest of the team follow suit, along with the Penguins playing a more structured defensive game.
“We have had this situation before with our lineup and we have capable guys going in,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “Guys who have done well for us before, and we have to find ways to be able to win and be effective within our roles regardless of who’s in there and who’s not in there. We weren’t able and we weren’t ready to do that.”
The Penguins played with no compete level today and you can’t use the injury excuse for that. “They were better than us, all over the ice,” Crosby said. “Special teams, more aggressive throughout the game, win battles and things like that. No excuse for that. Gotta make sure we bounce back tomorrow.”
In addition to the lack of compete level, one aspect that really stood out for the Penguins was the lack of in game adjustments from the team. Players including Dan Bylsma talked coming into this game how the Penguins wanted to play a tight game vs Philadelphia and not let them play an up and down game.
It was clear by the mid-point of the first period that Philadelphia was the better team on this day and with the Penguins missing the likes of Neal and Kunitz, it would have been the perfect opportunity to try to slow down the game and play a defensive minded game.
Whatever happen to trapping in the neutral zone?
Instead we saw odd-man rushes all day in Philadelphia’s favor, and the Flyers forwards constantly getting behind the Penguins D.
“We expected them to come hard like that with their forecheck early in the game and they did and we didn’t handle it,” Bylsma said. We weren’t able to handle it. And I think you saw in all aspects of the game; we weren’t good.”
BY THE NUMBERS
- Philadelphia outshot Pittsburgh 40-25 and had 72 shot attempts to the Penguins 44 shot attempts
- Pittsburgh was credited with 14 giveaways, Philadelphia 3 giveaways
- Pittsburgh went 0-5 on the power play
- Steve Mason made 25 saves for his 4th shutout of the season.
- Brooks Orpik was credited with 7 blocked shots and 6 hits
- Since December 11th, Claude Giroux has 47 points, Sidney Crosby has 45 points.