Typically you may make too large of a deal out of 1 recreation.
It’s straightforward to get caught up within the second and overstate issues within the quick aftermath of a win or a loss.
Nevertheless it will not be overstating issues to counsel that the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night time might find yourself having a reasonably important impression on the East Division playoff race.
Not solely did the Flyers win in regulation, making it a four-point swing within the standings, however they did so whereas overcoming a 3-0 deficit in opposition to a workforce they’re in direct competitors with for one of many 4 playoff spots within the division.
Even earlier than the puck dropped on Thursday this had the texture of a big recreation. The 2 groups have been tied in complete factors (with the Flyers having two video games in hand) and any win in regulation was going to be an enormous shift within the standings. Given the video games in hand state of affairs it’s one the Penguins most likely wanted extra, and 4 minutes into the sport it regarded like they have been effectively on their strategy to getting it thanks to a few targets in a 71-second stretch to leap out to a commanding lead.
So what occurred?
As a substitute of ending the job, they went right into a 56-minute shell, allowed Philadelphia to dictate the tempo of the sport, and slowly watched their lead evaporate till it was fully gone.
It was the identical story they’ve been coping with all season once they have struggled. Unhealthy defensive zone play, careless play with the puck, and an influence play unit that has fully sucked the life out of their video games each time it hits the ice. Their two makes an attempt on the man-advantage on Thursday completely captured the self-destructive pressure it has been all season.
Their first try got here simply a few minutes after Jared McCann scored to provide the Penguins a 3-0 lead. It was a possibility to construct on their lead and bury an opponent that had clearly stumbled initially.
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The Penguins responded by recording zero photographs on purpose, by no means getting arrange, and by no means wanting organized. Just some minutes later the Flyers scored on their energy play alternative and the tide had formally shifted. Their second alternative got here within the third interval once they have been nonetheless forward by a purpose with an opportunity so as to add on some insurance coverage, and it was simply as futile. The Flyers tied it only a few minutes later, setting the stage for Claude Giroux‘s game-winning purpose with lower than three minutes to play.
Pittsburgh’s energy play has the expertise to be a game-changing pressure. Nevertheless it’s solely modified video games within the incorrect path for them.
Their defensive zone protection and puck administration are large points, and each damage them on Thursday. However don’t excuse the persistently unhealthy energy play.
Why this recreation issues a lot
Yeah, it’s just one recreation. Yeah, the 2 groups play once more on Saturday. However this recreation is so important due to the character of the shortened season and the playoff format. You don’t have as a lot time to make up floor. You’re solely taking part in in opposition to groups you’re competing with immediately for playoff spots. If you’re the Penguins, coming into that recreation within the place they did (out of a playoff spot), and leap out to a 3-0 lead in opposition to a workforce you’re in shut competitors with, you completely cannot come out of that recreation with zero factors within the standings. You simply can’t. You want one thing out of that.
While you have a look at the standings you see the Penguins sitting in fifth place, two factors again of the Boston Bruins and Flyers.
That won’t seem to be loads. It’s one recreation. However remember that the Penguins have already performed two extra video games than each groups.
If you happen to have a look at the present level projections you see simply how a lot work the Penguins must do to make up that floor.
That’s a whole lot of floor.
If there’s a constructive improvement for the Penguins it’s that they’ve already performed essentially the most difficult a part of the schedule, and it concludes on Saturday with their subsequent recreation in opposition to the Flyers.
The second half of their season options a number of video games in opposition to the New York Rangers, in addition to all of their video games in opposition to the New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres. So there’s a likelihood to make some floor and acquire factors, assuming they’ll beat the groups they’re presupposed to beat. However as they strategy the midway level of their season they’ve fairly an uphill battle sitting in entrance of them.
Adam Gretz is a author for Professional Hockey Speak on NBC Sports activities. Drop him a line at [email protected] or observe him on Twitter @AGretz.