Post-Game Reactions: Flyers give Pens a lesson on how to play with a lead

POST-GAME REACTIONS

*Analysis and Locker Room Reactions from Bylsma, Crosby, Staal, Lovejoy, Adams, Malkin, Jagr, Couturier, Giroux & Laviolette*
PITTSBURGH — The Philadelphia Flyers were able to do something the Penguins haven’t been able to do through two games; close out a game when holding a lead.
After Jaromir Jagr put the Flyers up 6-5 with 10:47 remaining in the game, the Flyers locked down defensively, making things difficult on the Penguins to mount a comeback and force overtime.
“They stacked three across the blueline there real effectively and made it tough to get through with the puck, ” head coach Dan Bylsma said.
“They trap well, ” center Jordan Staal said. “we had tough time getting through neutral zone, and around the net they did a good job boxing us out, ” he said.
Frustrations once again were in the Penguins locker room regarding the failure to play with a lead.

“We’ve got to find a way to be better with the lead, ” Sidney Crosby said. “We know they’re going to keep coming.”
“We need to focus for 60 minutes and play a better defensive zone and on power play too {giving up shorthanded goals}, two goals in playoffs is a lot too, ” Penguins center Evgeni Malkin said.
“Too many breakdowns and obviously they buried their chances, ” veteran winger Craig Adams said.
Whether the Penguins can fix their defensive issues is doubtful but some kind of improvement has to happen immediately.
“We need to limit our mistakes and that’s really what it comes down to, ” Crosby said. “The mistakes we’ve made have ended up in our net.”
LOVEJOY’S NIGHTMARE THIRD PERIOD
After an awful turnover in the third period leading to a goal from Sean Couturier, then getting beat in front of the net on Jaromir Jagr’s game winning goal, Ben Lovejoy to no surprise was hard on himself after the game.
On Couturier’s third period marker that tied the game at 5-5, Lovejoy failed to make the simple play of putting the puck off the boards that coaches teach defenseman to do in squirts. Instead, Lovejoy looked up ice and tried to make a stretch pass through the neutral zone, the type of mindset the offensive opportunistic Penguins seem to always have. On the blown decision by Lovejoy not to go up the boards, Couturier creates the turnover and goes in all alone on Marc Andre Fleury for the goal.
“I need to make the hard play, ” Ben Lovejoy said. “It’s my fault. I need to make a smarter play.”
Minutes later Lovejoy would be victimized in the defensive zone by Jagr who netted the game winning goal. In a play for the puck in the right corner, Jagr fends off Lovejoy in the corner beating him for a puck battle, then outmuscles Lovejoy in front of the goal for the game winner.
“I ended up being the difference in the game, ” Lovejoy said.
(Courtesy of the Flyers)
PLAYERS, COACHES RAVING ABOUT COUTURIER
— The buzz after the game centered around rookie center Sean Couturier who not only is shutting down the Malkin line at even strength but was a star offensively in the Flyers 8-5 win tonight.
” I cannot find words to describe his game tonight, ” winger Jaromir Jagr said.
“At 19 years old, he plays well beyond his age. I do think he is a mature kid, ” head coach Peter Laviolette said. “He plays older than he is.”
“He’s 19, but he plays like he’s 28, ” star center Claude Giroux who had a six point night said.
Talk among media folks is that Couturier reminds many of a young Jordan Staal but Couturier drew a huge compliment from Jagr who said Couturier reminds him of a young Ronnie Francis.
“Ron Francis was kind of like that, ” Jagr said of Couturier’s defensive ability. The Kunitz – Malkin – Neal line is pointless at even strength and were a combined minus-13 in the game. Couturier called outscoring Malkin so far in the series “a bonus”.
Through two games, it’s been the Steve Sullivan – Sidney Crosby – Pascal Dupuis line that’s been the best line for the Penguins. Crosby had a goal and an assist, while the line combined for 5 points in the loss.
UP AND DOWN NIGHT FOR POWER PLAY
— The Penguins scored twice on the power play but gave up two shorthanded goals and gave up a power play goal, losing the special teams battle for the second straight game. “They’ve won the special teams game now both games and really, probably the difference in both games, ” Bylsma said.
Looking to create a spark on the power play, Bylsma took Sidney Crosby off the top power play unit, using Steve Sullivan — Kris Letang at the points with Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Chris Kunitz. The move paid dividends when the Penguins scored on the power play at 9:27 of the first period when Neal found Kunitz in front.
“The first goal we liked what we saw from our power play, we attacked and recovered and got what we’ve had success doing, ” Bylsma said. Crosby the ultimate captain and professional, was among the happiest players on the bench when Kunitz scored on the power play that he [Crosby} wasn’t apart of.
For Pittsburgh though, their two power play goals are an afterthought after giving up two shorthanded goals. On the first goal, Claude Giroux came in all alone on a breakaway and after Marc Andre Fleury made a save, no one picked up Max Talbot who knocked in the rebound for his first playoff goal as a Flyer. On the play Crosby was so focused on chasing down Giroux that he never picked up Talbot in front.
On the second shorthanded goal against, the Penguins again let the puck get on the Flyers best players {Claude Giroux} stick. “On the second one, win a faceoff and allows them to have at 3 on 2 rush the other way, they make quick play and puck ends up on their best players stick and they make a great play there, ” Bylsma said. “We’ve been pretty decent in that area in not giving up shorthanded goals and that was factor {tonight}.”
SAVE OF THE YEAR?
— With the Penguins leading 2-0 in the first period, Ilya Bryzgalov made what Jaromir Jagr called afterwards, the save of the year, when Bryzgalov robbed Letang with a glove save as Letang had a wide open net from 20 ft after taking a cross-ice feed from Sidney Crosby. “That was the save of the year, ” Jagr said.
CHARACTER SHOWING
— Despite leaving Pittsburgh with a 2-0 lead, the Flyers will go into game 3 stressing a better start but coming from behind has made them such a confident team and has brought out a lot of character. “When you’re able to come back in a game like that again, it speaks volumes about character in the room, ” Peter Laviolette said. “Fighting back like that is not easy.”
GOOD TEAM OVER THERE
Jordan Staal on Pens regrouping: “It’s a good team over there, we’re a good team as well and we have to keep moving forward and we’re going to find a way to win of these games and it’s going to be a big one.

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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