Saturday, May 10, 2008

Flyers lose another Game One

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The Flyers simply don't like to win the first game of a series. For the third time in a row, the Flyers lost a Game One, this time in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-2. Philly had previously dropped the first games in the Captials and Canadiens series and we all know how those turned out, so there is no reason to think the season is over.

But, if the Flyers let the Penguins play the way they did yesterday, this series could be over quickly. The Penguins stars, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, both scored goals and flashed their speed and ability throughout the game. Malkin was easily the best player on the ice, finishing with two backbreaking goals, one with 7 seconds left in the first period to give the Penguins a lead and the other coming 5 minutes later while shorthanded. If Kimmo Timonen was able to play, his assignment would have been to shadow Malkin and try to slow him down. With the way Malkin played tonight there might not have been much he could have done.

The Flyers didn't play the type of game we have come to expect from them in the playoffs so far. Mike Richards scored both of the teams goals in the first period on garbage-style goals, one being a shot off Pens netminder Marc-Andre Fleury and the other a rebound goal after a huge scrum in front of the net. The rest of the Flyers failed to get anything going offensively, and they even got out-hit by the Penguins throughout the game. Perhaps the long lay-off hindered them, but they simply didn't look like the same team that dominated the Canadiens.

Martin Biron even looked human in net. He has played his least inspiring hockey in the first game of every series and tonight was no exception. While none of the goals were bad goals, he still didn't make many of the amazing saves we have grown accustomed to. If the Flyers go on to win this series, Biron simply has to be dominating in net.

As we know from the previous two series', just because the Flyers lost the first game doesn't mean it's time to panic. They now must make the necessary adjustments to slow down the Penguins attack and try to generate more offense on the other end. If they come out with the same game plan and the same effort, the Flyers will be quickly swept aside by the Penguins. As anyone who has watched the Flyers in the playoffs knows, they aren't going to let that happen. Expect a much different Flyers team to take the ice for Game Two on Sunday.

Highlights of Game One via ESPN, plus commentary from Barry Melrose:

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