The Philadelphia Flyers came into Consol Energy and left with a 5-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night.
That’s nothing new, right?
What was different for this victory from Philadelphia is it wasn’t a typical Penguins – Flyers game where the Flyers bait the Penguins into the garbage after the whistle and get two-three power play goals.
What the Flyers did was play a strong tactical game.
The Flyers offensively had the perfect blueprint on how to play the Penguins — Get puck deeps, establish offense off the cycle against a soft group of defensemen.
The Flyers constantly attacked the Penguins with hard wrap-arounds and their superior wall play off the forecheck exploited the Penguins defensively. Philadelphia possessed a heavy game down low and that’s an ideal way to attack the Penguins because they are not built defensively to defend teams who can play that way.
Marc Andre Fleury’s poor ability to stop hard wraps was also problematic for the Penguins defensemen like it was in the 2012 playoff series.
Aside from some depth scoring, and the Penguins jumping out fast with the Crosby line drawing two penalties in the first period, there was little to like from the Penguins tonight.
There was poor awareness from most of the team in all three zones at critical situations.
“We’re playing a team playing in back to back games and playing at home, we should take advantage of that opportunity,” Sidney Crosby said afterwards.
Crosby was pointless in the loss and a minus-2. Kris Letang and Brandon Sutter were each minus-4’s in the loss. Evgeni Malkin was a minus-3.
The Penguins were outshot 33-25 in the loss.
It is only one game but what was troubling was the lack of adjustments. Although the Penguins scored a fluky goal in the second period and the score was tied 2-2 after forty minutes, the game started to turn in the Flyers favor during period two when it came to dictating the play.
From the second period on Philadelphia played a strong disciplined game in the neutral zone. They baited the Penguins to dump the puck in but Pittsburgh failed to adjust and just wouldn’t dump the puck and go get it.
This is a game that Mike Johnston will learn from once he watches the tape or if you’re a Penguins fan, you at least hope he learns from it.
Johnston is not a big believer in dumping the puck but that adjustment was an obvious one that has to be made with the way the Flyers were defending the neutral zone and there are going to be situations like tonight where the Penguins have to learn to not be so aggressive in activating their D.