Now it’s time. Now you can press the panic button.
Only one other time in history have the Flyers taken a 3-0 series lead and been forced to play a Game 6– the year was 1975, when the Flyers beat the Islanders 4-1 in Game 7 of the semifinals en route to the Stanley Cup.
Last night’s Game 5 was fairly straightforward: It was a mostly well-played game from both sides, but a sleepy second period from the Flyers and Marc-Andre Fleury’s goaltending was the difference in the Penguins’ 3-2 win. At times, during the end of the second period and beginning of the third, the Penguins looked stronger and faster than the Flyers. It’s hard to explain, but the O and B lacked jam. The Penguins won most of the small battles, were a step quicker to the puck, and generally seemed to anticipate the Flyers’ every move. The drought didn’t last long, as eventually the Flyers found their way to Fleury, who was unbelievable, but that 10-15 minute stretch may have been the difference in the game.
The Flyers losing a road game 3-2 shouldn’t be the reason you press the panic button, though. They played well enough to win. They just lost a close playoff hockey game. It happens. What should panic you, and the reason why my fingers are currently performing Stomp atop a mythical button, is the fact that the Penguins have seemingly found their game. In the last two contests, they’ve been opportunistic, tightened up their defense, and, when they've had breakdowns, Fleury has been there to bail them out. Take, for example, Danny Briere’s missed opportunity here:
That goes in during Games 1-3. It goes in against female Ryan Miller last year. It goes in against most goalies. Playoff Danny Briere and his soft hands don’t flub that opportunity.
You should panic because the Penguins of Games 4 and 5 are certainly capable of winning four-straight games. The team that we saw for the first three games of the series wasn’t.
Now, before hyperventilating into a brown paper bag, let’s enjoy some of the nonsensical moments from last night’s Game 5.
– Is it just me, or do we see Steve Sullivan’s o-face every time he scores a goal?
That’s not natural, man. That’s not excitement… that’s the face of a guy who cries after sex. Stop it, Steve. Stop it.
– Claude Giroux, who poked Penguins fans before the game (figuratively… no one would want to stick it in a diseased Yinzer), continued with his prodding during the pre-game skate:
Well played, Claude.
– Evgeni Malkin leveled Sidney Crosby last night. If you need to compare that to a real-life scenario, it would be like O.J. Simpson shooting Casey Anthony– you finally get video evidence of The Juice committing a crime, and you really don’t care that the victim got shot on national television.
– Here's Malkin's dirty hit on Sean Couturier:
- Somehow, Brooks Orpik sitting on top of James van Riemsdyk wasn’t a penalty. It makes you wonder about the NHL’s incentive to get the series to a – nationally televised – Game 6. Last week’s Game 3, on NBC, drew the highest non-Stanley Cup Final rating in 10 years.
Of course, JVR plays the game with the testicular fortitude of a children’s sing-along toy. So it’s possible that other players would have fought their way right through this.
– Claude Giroux on the loss:
Your full game highlights: