Welcome to Hockey After Dark, a nightly recap of the NHL playoffs made possible by insomnia, playoff anxiety, and my BFF caffeine. Come for the topical social commentary, and stay for the sporadic in-depth analysis littered with obscure literary references. If you enjoy the snark, feel free to follow me at @DXTraeger.
Penguins Notch the “5” in their “1-9-7-5” Bingo Card, Send the Flyers & Their Fans Into Despair
For the first 10 minutes of Game 3, the Philadelphia Flyers had the Pittsburgh Penguins on their heels in every sense of the word/phrase.
Olli Maatta and Jamie Oleksiak were, quite literally, playing back on their defensive heels and were one stride slow several times, leading to multiple primo scoring opportunities for the Flyers, with none more dangerous than the mini-breakaway generated by Nolan Patrick just minutes into the game.
Matt Murray was fantastic during those ten minutes, and weathered the Flyers’ offensive onslaught.
Philadelphia’s aggressive forecheck gave the Penguins fits, causing turnovers and forcing rushed decisions that were awful in both inception & execution.
The most brutal mistake was a turnover by Kris Letang, an error exacerbated by the fact that Letang, having corralled the puck in the corner near Murray, clearly had the time to assess the ice and still spoon-fed a perfect pass to a wide-open Claude Giroux in the middle of the ice.
There are “Golden Rules” in life that apply to all kinds of situations.
Ethically, we’re taught to treat others as we would like them to treat us.
Militarily, we were taught to never get involved in a land war in Asia.
And on a related cinematic note, we were taught to never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.
In hockey, the golden rule for defensemen is NEVER THROW A PASS UP THE MIDDLE OF THE ICE IN YOUR OWN END UNLESS YOU ARE 1,000,000% CERTAIN IT WILL NOT BE INTERCEPTED.
Fortunately, the NHL’s Best Player (circa April 22nd, 2012) missed, and a few minutes later, the actual Best Player in the NHL would give the Penguins a 1-0 lead when Sidney Crosby kicked a Patric Hornqvist feed to himself, and then proceeded to bury the puck past Game 2 Hero Brian Elliott via a wraparound.
Crosby’s goal stunned the wristband-wearing crowd at Wells Fargo Center, and when the home team failed to convert on a Carl Hagelin slashing penalty whose duration straddled the 1st and 2nd periods, Pittsburgh would convert that momentum into a Derick Brassard power-play tally to double the Penguins’ lead.
Exactly four minutes later, the Pens were once again on the power-play, and this time it was Evgeni Malkin burying a slap-shot off of a feed from Sidney Crosby to make the game 3-0.
FIVE FREAKING SECONDS LATER….
Crosby pushed forward on the ensuing faceoff at center, and then found Brian Dumoulin with a brilliant 30 foot saucer pass, and THE ROUT WAS ON LIKE DONKEY KONG!
The two Penguins goals in five seconds tied an NHL playoff record, and it’s safe to say that mark will continue to stand for quite some time.
Flyers fans…did not take to their team’s thrashing well. Since I always aim to educate my readers, I present to you a brief history of the name “Catherine:”
Many years later, in Russia, came “Catherine the Great.”
Many years later came “Threat Level Midnight” and Super Secret Agent Michael Scarn’s dead wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones Scarn.
And then, finally, yesterday brought us all “Catherine the Not-So-Great: A Tragedy in Three Acts.”
Act I: Our Heroine Discovers Her Conflict: Woman Versus Reality
Act II: Rising Action – Her Tragic Flaw of Pride
Act III: Denouement and Resolution (she blocked me)
Alas, we will never know Catherine the Not-So-Great’s thoughts on Claude Giroux’s arrest for “repeatedly” molesting an Ottawa police officer, nor will we know if Catherine the Not-So-Great now knows of Sidney Crosby’s countless charitable works, and it shall forever remain a mystery whether Catherine the Not-So-Great understands how the Ted Lindsay Award voting works.
In any case, the Penguins have now scored “1,” “7,” and “5” goals, with only the elusive “9” remaining for the uber appropriate “1975” Philadelphia sendoff.
The two teams will get an extra day off as the series resumes on Wednesday, with the flightless birds of Pittsburgh looking to take a commanding 3-1 series lead.
Your moment of Shirtless Zen: