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The Philly faithful
4-2, 4-2, 4-1...it would almost seem the offense over the past three games has been one-sided. Philly can blame it on Coburn/Timonen, but frankly the scores don't represent the closeness of play throughout these games. With the exception of Game 1, all have been relatively close at some point, often coming down to a third period Penguins notch to really set them apart from the Flyers.
First things first, let's talk about Steve Downie. This guy, as evidenced over the course of this season, isn't exactly a favorite amongst fans and players outside of Philadelphia. For most of the Flyers' playoff run, Downie has been a healthy scratch. However as the injuries have mounted up in the Philly camp, Downie has seen some ice-time during the last two games against Pitt.
No one could be more thankful than the Penguins.
In Game 2, Downie's inability to clear the zone resulted in a go-ahead goal from Max Talbot in the third. In Game 3, Downie made a wrong decision in the Philly zone that was awkwardly reminiscent of Sunday night, resulting in a Ryan Malone insurance marker. Tag on the late, cheap hit on Petr Sykora courtesy of Steve Downie, and you have a guy worthy of a Game 4 scratch. Worthy based on principle, unlikely based on Philly's desperation for healthy players.
Speaking of - has anyone else noticed that blocking a Pittsburgh slapshot has yet to work out to anyone's advantage? Rewind to the first round and we have Antoine Volchenkov taking one off the dome from a rising Malkin slapper. Series two against the Rangers didn't have much to that degree, although Drury sure got bloodied up pretty good on an uncalled high-stick. And now, in the third and final round before the Cup, poor Braydon Coburn was in the wrong place at the wrong time. 50 stitches later (yes, 50) Versus cameras caught him sporting the look of a recent war veteran. And yet you couldn't help but catch the desperation in his eyes to get out there and play. Coach Steven of the Flyers mentioned that once Coburn's eye opens, he'll most likely opt for a cage and may make an appearance just in time for Game 4.
You know, Game 4 - the end of Philly's misery.
I'm sorry for getting ahead of myself there, but things aren't looking good for the Flyers. They genuinely just can't keep up with the fast-paced Pittsburgh offense. This game was the third example of such. While Pitt's first goal of the game (Whitney) was easily a lucky bounce, Hossa's second tally was merely a result of using the screen to his advantage. In all honesty, Malone's third period goal was the only 'real' hockey goal of the game. Every other one (including the empty netter) were just typical examples of Philly not getting the good bounces.
Marc-Andre was once again incredible in net, though hardly challenged. Pitt out-shot Philly 24-18, which is still surprisingly close considering the Flyers' 3-shot second period. The Pens' power play went a successful 1-2, while their PK was once again the pride and joy of keeping Philly scoreless on three attempts with the extra man.
Game 4 remains in the City of Brotherly Love, but you have to wonder if the Flyers are ready to raise the white flag. One glance at the current cup run from both the East and the West, it would almost seem the teams are choreographed to finish with a Pittsburgh vs Detroit Cup contest.
Has Pittsburgh been challenged at all this postseason, or are they really just that good? Sadly, Detroit may be the only team to challenge that consideration. If all goes well for the Penguins Thursday night, that may be sooner than later.