Disappearing act: Flyers No Show in game five, Pens Headed to Cup Finals.

To win the uphill battle that would be game five, the Flyers needed big games from their big players and to come out like the season was on the line. What they got however, was a collection of listless play and a quick deficit that eventually led to embarrassing 6-0 loss, and the end the Flyers’ storybook season.

The Flyers hoped the surprise addition of Kimmo Timonen to the lineup would emotionally charge them to victory, but the Penguins had different plans. The Pens jumped to a quick 1-0 lead, 2:30 into the game, when Ryan Malone deflected a Sidney Crosby shot past a very average Marty Biron.

Not getting the first goal was a crucial blow to Philadelphia’s efforts on the road, and was a direct contributer to the loss. But before the Flyers could counter the one-goal lead by Pittsburgh, Evgeni Malkin capitalized on lax backchecking by the Umberger line to give Pitt the 2-0 lead in the first period.

Despite what appeared to be a blow out from minute one, the Flyers had their opportunity to claw back into the game with a power play to end the first period and another one to begin the second period. They not only didn’t score, but looked sloppy and showed little to no intensity.

Midway through the second period, Marion Hossa took a Crosby pass at the right faceoff circle and one-timed it past Biron’s short side, to give the Pens a 3-0 lead and essentially put the game to rest.

Although the elimination loss was the fourth worst of its kind in team history, the 2007-08 season will not be remembered for the way it ended, but the strides the team took during the year. Picked by some to not even make the playoffs, the Flyers slipped into the post season and defeated the hottest team in the league, the Washington Capitals, then easily defeated the top-seeded Montreal Canadians. Those two successes will outshine the defeats, because it is testament to what the young core of Flyers are capable of accomplishing heading into the future. Bring on October 2008.

Thumbs Up

There is always next year – Looking at the bright side of things, it took Pittsburgh three tanked seasons and three number-one overall draft picks to reach the Eastern Conference Finals. The team was so bad for so long, they were almost bought out and moved out of the steel city. The Flyers didn’t need a plethora of young draft talents to get back on top. After just one bad year the Flyers regrouped, reorganized, and went from worst to final four. Last year the Penguins were in the same position as the Flyers were this season but did not make it out of the first round, losing to the Ottawa Senators four games to one. The Penguins kept their core together, made some deadline moves and seem unbeatable headed into the finals, an encouraging thought Flyers’ fans should keep in their mind this offseason.

Ryan “Bernie” Parent – Parent did not have a fantastic game, but was somewhat thrown to the wolves partnered with Flyers’ ice-time leader Kimmo Timonen, as the Flyers top defensive pairing. He finished the game a minus-2, but led the Flyers with five hits and tied the team lead with three blocked shots.

Darian Hatcher, what a career – As the season concludes, looking back at what Hatcher did in the post-season was nothing short of remarkable. Coming back early from a broken leg just to play in the playoffs, Hatcher could barely walk without a limp but kept going out and giving 100 percent. Yes he may be slow and old, but he battled it out with two bad knees, a fractured leg and was still one of the most noticeable players on the ice for the Flyers. When Timonen and Coburn went down guess who stepped up and played spirited hockey? His play in the playoffs is something that Flyers fans respect and will be grateful for and remember for a long time to come.

Thumbs Down

No shows – Mike Knuble, RJ Umberger and Scottie Hartnell were complete no shows in game five. Each had individual success in the post season but added next to nothing when it counted most against the Pens. Knuble had been a no show since his overtime game winner against the Capitals, which could be a result of an injury. In 17 minutes of ice time, Knuble only had one shot, was a minus-2 and had no hits. Umberger also contributed nothing with his typical disappearing act. He was also a minus-2 with only one shot and one hit. Hartnell could be seen on multiple plays just watching the puck carrier, and was even commented on by the NBC announcers as trying to defend while standing still. Maybe he has the flu or maybe he just didn’t show up, but Hartnell finished the game a minus-1 with one shot and three giveaways. Simply not good enough for a do-or-die game.

NBC announcers commenting on Georges Laraque – As big goon Laraque followed Darian Hatcher around the ice, enticing him to fight with his back to the play. The NBC announcers commented on Georges’ discipline for not taking a penalty. If it were a Flyers’ player doing the same thing, the announcers would have complimented the challenged Penguin for not playing the Flyers’ game.

Would the real Biron please stand up? – Marty Biron was phenomenal in the Montreal series and was more than adequate against the Capitals. But what may have done the French Canadian goaltender in was the week break between the Semi’s and the Conference finals. Red-hot headed into the Penguins series, Biron cooled off considerably and was average at best. In the first three contests, Biron did not make a big save, thus leading his team to defeat. But in game four, Biron seemed back to his post-season form, guiding his squad to victory with big saves early to set the tone for the game. In game five he was beatable once again, letting in questionable goals and getting out of position allowing the Pens to capitalize. The question in Philadelphia will be, which Biron will show up next year?

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