Orange & Black Breakdown
by Marc Siciliano on 04/18/12 at 07:09 PM ET
Regardless of how many wins and losses you may (or may not) have in a series and how much help you receive from the hockey gods along the way, it’s the decisive fourth win that is always the toughest to come by. Even when factoring in the Penguins rag-tag roster decimated by injury and pugilism, tonight should prove to be no different. The Flyers need their best effort of the series if they want to be rewarded for their hard work with time off.
Just a week ago, this scenario didn’t seem feasible in even the wildest of dreams. Tonight, this sweep dream can become a reality.
Hey look it’s a penguin with a noose!
Still looking for proof from the hockey gods that this might be the year that things go RIGHT for the Flyers in the playoffs?
Well for starters, fending off elimination the Penguins roster will be made up of practically 25% replacement players due to injuries and suspension. In addition to the losses of Neal, Asham, and Adams to disciplinary action from Shanny, Paul Martin has been announced as a scratch and Michalek has become a game time decision.
Yes, you read that correctly: the Achilles heel of this Penguins team – its defense – is about to get significantly weaker.
That doesn’t bode well at all for a team that has needed (and failed) to bail out its goaltender on a regular basis these playoffs. It also doesn’t bode well for a defensive unit that has given up 16 goals in it’s past two games. It’s obvious this is where they will need to improve if they wish to achieve a victory and keep the series alive, but with even more subs on the way this should prove to be a difficult task for both goalie and defenseman alike.
The Penguins will also need their stars to show up on the score sheet for something other than penalties if they wish to have a chance. The loss of Neal will only further magnify Malkin’s offensive shortcomings this series if he is unable to break through tonight. As far as Crosby goes, he has done irreversible damage to his reputation in a matter of 3 games, losing sight of what has gotten him to this expected level of success versus Philly in the first place: using the negative emotion to elevate his game, not his penalty minutes. With his back against the wall, expect the greatest player in the world to act like his usual self tonight.
The Penguins need these two to get it going
The easiest way for the Flyers to get out of this one with a W and on to the next round just so happens to be the thing the Flyers need to work on the most if they wish to embark on a long playoff run: scoring first.
While it’s been fun to become synonymous with comebacks and nice to know you’re capable of winning from behind, the Flyers won’t be able to do that against more defensively sound teams, particularly the Rangers and Bruins. The Flyers need to put everything they’ve got mentally and physically into gaining an early lead. It’s been a while, but a team as offensively dynamic as the Flyers only has their own mindset to blame for not being able to overcome this hurdle. They’ve put up 16 goals in the last 120 minutes of hockey – surely they are capable of putting in 1 in the first 20. With the Wells Fargo Center sure to be in a passionate frenzy, this game can be easily theirs for the taking if they strike early.
Simultaneously cruel and full of hope, reality looms for both organizations and their fans. Let’s just get this over with and learn our lessons before the hockey gods’ change their minds.
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About Orange & Black Breakdown
The Orange & Black Breakdown looks to be the ultimate, around the clock source for news and information on the Philadelphia Flyers organization and it’s ever-present quest for the Stanley Cup. Focusing on what the team can do to achieve success is the ultimate goal.
The OBB is written and maintained by myself - Marc Siciliano. I’m a college graduate and media production professional in the sports industry with credits on projects like Hard Knocks: Bengals and 24/7 Penguins vs. Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic. A man of many hobbies, I always seem to find a way to spend a disproportionate amount of my daily routine with two things: Flyers hockey and social media (much to the dismay of my hockey impartial friends on twitter).
So what does this mean for you? The plan is to combine these
time-wasting habits passions with my love for writing to provide you with complete coverage of the Flyers from both my head and around the web, 24/7.
This is my second writing stint focusing on the Flyers, but for a much larger audience - so do be gentle. Different perspectives and opinions on the organization are welcome and encouraged. Just because I see it one way doesn’t mean I’m beyond seeing it your way as well, so speak up!
I’m always interested in interacting with readers, so find me on twitter (@marcs797) or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let’s talk hockey.
Thanks for reading; Lets go Flyers!