With the Hurricanes, Devils, Caps, and Pens on the schedule to start the season, a 3-1-0 record is perfectly acceptable. But, I'm pretty sure most of us would rather that loss be to any of those other teams. Hell, I'd rather be 2-2 and have one of the wins be against the Pens.
After the jump, we'll dispatch with any excuse-making. (Then we'll talk about a possible biting and watch a video of Chris Pronger throttlin' him a Penguin.)
The depth we saw on the 3rd and 4th lines in the first three games was washed away without JVR and Betts in the lineup. No excuse... If everyone's healthy except two lower line forwards, even though both are big special teams contributors and more than solid at even strength, that's still fairly normal in this league. And anyway, no one's blaming Arron Asham or Riley Cote for this one. Weak penalty gripes? No excuses... The call on Briere :14 into the game was an annoying reminder of what the league loves—powerplays and more powerplays, but the ensuing goal also wasn't the reason the Flyers lost. The Penguins were whistled for more PIM in the game anyway. Overall, despite the close 5-4 final score, the Flyers just flat out blew this one.
Although they did keep it interesting...
Braydon Coburn will draw the fans' ire in the wake of this loss, especially those of us who have maybe had a few HopDevils. He coughed up a couple of pucks that resulted directly in Pens markers, including an autogoal.
After seeing turnovers result directly in Ovechkin goals on Tuesday, and a mess of flubs tonight, let's hope it's not an enduring trend.
Ray Emery was left high and dry a few times, and he didn't have his best game with him tonight to match the fleury flurry.
At the other end of the ice, Marc-Andre Fleury gave up four goals of his own, but overall, way too many of the Flyers' shots were benign. Good news is, his chest will probably be sore tomorrow, and his glove got a lot of action.
A couple of positives on the night: Danny Briere picked up two more goals, both from in tight. Jeff Carter also had a good night on the score sheet, tallying two goals and two assists. The scoring depth is there again this year, but it wasn't enough tonight. Honestly, it wasn't as close as the score would indicate. Any time the Flyers seemed to pick up momentum, the Pens scored like it was a free happy hour at Bootleggers.
Mike Richards played hard, coming up with some big hits and clearly trying to steal back the game's energy. After the Flyers had scored with the goalie pulled, they threw everything they could at MAF, including Richards, head-first. The ensuing scraps are gonna make the rounds tomorrow. Update: They already are.
First, Kris Letang claims, well... he doesn't publicly claim anything specific. But, it's assumed he told the refs that Scott Hartnell bit his hand. Hartnell says he didn't. While that was going on, Chris Pronger was ripping former teammate Chris Kunitz away from the action by his gruff. Almost have to feel bad for Kunitz, who just looked scared.
It's gonna be a crazy season series, that's for sure. That's fun and all, but at least for the first game, the off-season moves aimed at putting the Flyers ahead of the Penguins haven't achieved that goal. Chris Pronger had a solid game at both ends, and Sidney Crosby was held off the score sheet. Malkin had a goal and an assist though, and for most the game, the Flyers couldn't match the Penguins' tenacity with and without the puck.
We'll keep you posted on any developments stemming from the last half-second of the game.