Pressure Mounting In Philadelphia
Quick Turnaround/ Discipline Key to Game 6
Friday's Game 5 began at 7:38 p.m., a regular start-time for most NHL games. Sunday's Game 6, however, will be an early afternoon battle. It will be interesting to see how each team handles not only another change in venue, but a quick turnaround as well.
Some, myself included, believe the short layoff between Games 5 and 6 will only serve to help a Penguins team who's riding high and remains in a must-win situation.
The Penguins Game 5 victory proved many truths on Friday night.
For one, the Penguins proved they could beat Philadelphia in a meaningful game at home. An ability that could prove important for the Penguins, but lets not get ahead of ourselves.
Secondly, center Jordan Staal continued to proved that he's not only one of the best defensive forwards in the league, but that his scoring touch and rocket of a shot are sharper than ever. In the previous three games, Staal has put up a playoff-leading six goals. His nine points place him second in playoff scoring behind only the Flyers Claude Giroux. If there's one part of Staal's game that's changed this season it's his willingness to fire the puck. Similar to his rookie season in which he scored 29 goals, Staal has been deploying a shoot-first, ask questions later type of mentality, and its working. Make no doubt about it, the play of Staal will be critical to the Penguins success today.
Next, Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury emphatically proved that he is still an elite backstop in the NHL. The poor performances he turned in for the first three games of the series, allowing 17 goals, were nearly forgotten after his incredible play in Game 5. Fleury played aggressively and held nothing back on Friday night - he played with instincts, the way his game is meant to be played. The Penguins will need him to be a fortress in the net again today to have a chance at extending the series.
Lastly, the Penguins proved Friday night that they are the superior 5 on 5 team in this series. The Flyers have been lights-out on the powerplay, scoring a staggering 11 of 20 with the man-advantage, including 2 of 5 in Game 5.
The Flyers last even strength goal?
The 19:33 mark of the third period in Game 3 in Philadelphia - nearly 140 minutes of hockey have been played since then.
The Penguins can do themselves a huge favor in Game 6 by staying disciplined, and at all costs, staying out of the penalty box. Some of the Penguins, Evgeni Malkin and Tyler Kennedy, specifically, took undisciplined and untimely penalties in Game 5 that led to golden Flyer opportunities.
The Penguins will need to be more focused between the whistles today and not allow the Flyers agitating tactics to get the better of them.
side note : Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 24 of 26 shots Friday night, a .923 save percentage - neither team's goaltenders had managed a .900 save percentage until that performance.