The Philadelphia Flyers capitalized on two first-period power plays and got excellent play from goaltender Marty Biron to stay alive for one more game, defeating the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-2, to set the series at 3-1 heading back to Pittsburgh.
Seconds after Biron miraculously stopped a breakaway from Marian Hossa, Flyers’ forward Joffrey Lupul streaked into the Penguins zone and unleashed a slapshot that deflected off the defenders stick and over the left shoulder of Marc-Andre Fleury to make the score 1-0, and give the Flyers the opening goal for the first time in the series.
Three minutes later with all the momentum, Danny Briere made a hard-nose move on the power play, plowing past big hal gill to jam a Randy Jones rebound past Fleury to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead. Jones made the play, as he found a good shooting lane and got the puck through on the Pens’ net, something he was struggling to do all series.
Continuing the flow, and on another questionable power play with a minute and a half left in the first period, the Flyers jumped on another Fleury rebound, as an unguarded Jeff Carter collected a rebound to the right of Fleury and patiently trickled the puck past the goaltender, giving the Flyers a commanding 3-0 lead.
The offensive flurry was somewhat refreshing to see from the Flyers, who have been struggling to even get shots off in the series (only 18 shots in game three). But Philadelphia rebounded in game four firing 34 shots and crashing the net on rebounds.
Grabbing the early lead was also a key factor since the Flyers have struggled dramatically with the trap the Penguins have put on whenever they gathered the first lead — which had been every game in the series up until game four. The Flyers offense will need jump quickly on Pittsburgh once again if they plan to claw back into this series.
Stevens’ switching up the lines – Not liking what he was seeing, Flyers coach John Stevens didn’t just tinker with the line combinations, but put together an entire offensive overhaul. The most noticeable change was in the play of Vinny Prospal, who had been invisible since the Capitals’ series, but showed some life playing center alongside Lupul and Umberger. Lupul also played a whale of a game with seven shots and a goal, something that may be directly related to Prospal distributing the puck well.
Darian Hatcher’s fighting ability – Even with Ryan Malone trying to get the jump on Hatcher early in the fight, Hatcher simply out-muscled Malone. Hatch completely controlled the fight until the refs came in and tapped out Malone, who had his jersey over his head and had eaten a few punches.
Ryan Parent showing what he’s made of – Ryan Parent was called up in an emergency to replace injured defenseman Braydon Coburn. The 21-year old rookie is slated to be a top-flight dman, but may not but matured enough to be a full time blue liner. But what Parent is showing in his limited post-season time is that he may be closer to NHL caliber than people may think. In game four, Parent grabbed his first NHL post-season point while also putting up zero’s across the board in his stat line. Some may believe zero’s mean no contribution, but for a unsuspecting shutdown defenseman like Parent zero’s mean no turnovers and no minus, which as an emergency call up — is a good day for the kid.
Sidney Crosby deserves all the heat he gets – While the VERSUS announcers talk up Crosby to the best of their ability, every time he is shown on camera after a play has ended he is jabbering to the refs with a look of astonishment on his face. The NHL’s chosen one has very limited respect around the league and is laughed at by some media and fans for this exact reason. When Sid the Kid isn’t diving like Greg Louganis, he’s crying to anyone who will listen about infractions that he believes takes place on him. The entire summation of Crosby’s demeanor was exposed when Mike Richards dropped his gloves after a slashing contest he had with Sid in the final moments of the game. But just like he has in the regular season when the equally sized Richards challanged him, Crosby just held on for dear life. The savior of the league not only kept his gloves on, but managed to keep a tight grasp on his stick as well, which was a bewildering and embarrassing sight.