As game 6 began, Claude Giroux decided he was going to single-handedly will his team to a first round victory. With his hit that sent Sidney Crosby air born and then wristing a bullet past Marc-Andre Fleury, Giroux would not allow the Flyers to lose a third straight game. The Flyer’s never looked back. Marc-Andre Fleury had a sub-par game and the Flyer’s got their best game of the series from Ilya Bryzgalov. One of the best reasons the Flyer’s came away with a 5-1 victory was the fact they blocked 40 shots! Eric Gustafsson led the way with 7 blocked shots while Lilja, Carle, and Coburn each blocked 6! Only 4 guys on the team did not block a shot.
This was the Flyer’s best all-around game by far. Sidney Crosby was afforded very little space on the ice after Giroux sent him flying early on.
The turning point in the game that allowed the Flyer’s to clinch the series? Danny Briere’s goal to put the Flyer’s back ahead by 3 and negate any momentum the Penguins gained after Evgeni Malkin’s powerplay goal cut it to 3-1. The hero of the game? Claude Giroux, without a doubt. The Flyer’s defense played its best game of the series by far. Andreas Lilja and Eric Gustafsson performed admirably in Nick Grossmann’s absence this afternoon.
Overall, this series was more unpredictable and wild than anyone could’ve imagined before this series started. The Penguins won a game scoring 10 goals while the Flyers had back-to-back victories with 8 goals! The goaltending overall on both sides was quite uninspiring. However, with a very solid game today and a pretty good game 5, Bryzgalov looks to have come into a comfort zone.
Perhaps the most shocking part of this series was how dirty the Penguins played and how they generally got away with it. James Neal’s hit on Sean Couturier was eerily similar to the hit Phoenix Coyote’s winger Raffi Torres put on Marian Hossa. The difference? Couturier was able to brace himself slightly and was uninjured. In explaining that Neal was getting a 1 game suspension for his hit on Claude Giroux after game 3, disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan stated Neal’s run on Couturier was essentially accidental. Evgeni Malkin’s shoulder to Couturiers head in game 5? Not even a conference with Shanahan. Aaron Asham only received 4 games for running at Brayden Schenn’s face. Often times guys such as Kris Letang would throw their heads back quickly hoping to draw a penalty, only to embarrass themselves. Malkin took a run at defenseman Nick Grossmann in game 4, leading to Grossmann missing the final 2 games of this series and wasn’t even penalized!
The series MVP? Claude Giroux. In setting a team record for playoff points in one round with, 14, Giroux upstaged the NHL’s poster boy Sidney Crosby and his pal Evgeni Malkin. Giroux’s all-around game was absolutely amazing from his big hit on Crosby today to his multiple clutch goals. You could easily make the case that Giroux could be the first round MVP across all 8 series.
Why did the Flyer’s win the series? They were the more disciplined team all 6 games, not losing focus amid all the cheapshots the Penguins through their way. The Flyer’s battled back from multiple goal deficits like it was no big deal. While the goaltending wasn’t outstanding, Bryzgalov came up with some amazing saves when the team needed him the most. The powerplay was unbelievable and the penalty kill chipped in with 3 short handed goals in the series as well. Sean Couturier drove Malkin insane for 6 games, limiting him to 3 goals. The Flyer’s were able to hold Crosby scoreless in games 5 and 6 and limited his effectiveness. All in all, the Flyer’s outworked, outhustled, and outsmarted the Penguins.
Lastly, can you imagine how scary of a team the Flyer’s can be for the rest of the playoffs if they block as many shots as they did today and get the offensive contributions from 5 different goal scorers? Can’t wait to see who the Flyer’s will match up with in round 2 !
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