Philadelphia Flyers face Pittsburgh Penguins in interstate Civil War

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

The battle for the state of Pennsylvania was more reminiscent of the battle of Gettysburg as the Philadelphia Flyers were left with many wounded egos.

In the NHL Playoffs, a team has to win a minimum of 16 games and up to 28 to win the war for the Stanley Cup and if the Philadelphia Flyers are going to come out on top, they’ll need to go through their interstate rivals the Pittsburgh Penguins.

And as we know wars aren’t won with one battle.

The first battle for the Keystone state was lost, and it doesn’t matter how badly the team lost, they lost a battle but not the war. There were glaringly bad plays and a lack of execution that lead to this brutal mauling on Penguins’ ice. The first goal and Evgeni Malkin backhand off the post and in to make it 3-0, were totally stoppable shots. The first goal was from a huge rebound that Elliott thought appropriate to steer into the slot and then not redeem himself on the rebound, once again off the post and in.

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The first line was unlike the one we’ve grown accustomed to watching as they were burned a few times. All aside, only the fourth line had above fifty Corsica for in advanced stats and a few high danger scoring chances. Every other line was outplayed and the goaltending was atrocious.

And in game two, the team didn’t fair that much better.

Now it’s bad enough that Jori Lehtera seems to be untouchable when it comes to benching but Val Filppula has gone to new heights of ineptness and should be removed from the lineup, as well as Lehtera. At worst you can replace these two with youthful speed and unbridled enthusiasm.

The Flyers’ fanbase will embrace their team no matter what the results are and will, therefore, embrace it’s the youth even when their lack experience will rear its ugly head. What they won’t accept, however, is the veteran presence that was responsible for most points all season, continue to be put on the penalty kill.  Are they not watching game film on these so-called veterans?  Repeating the same mistakes over and over is a sign of insanity. Inserting Jordan Weal and Taylor Leier into game three should’ve been a top priority.

If this battle of Keystone combatants is going to go the Flyers, the team is going to have to break up Giroux and Couturier. Six years ago the two Flyer forwards went head to head with Crosby and Malkin and won handily.

I’m speaking of a total lineup shakeup with Filppula and Lehtera out and Weal and Leier in, maybe even a call-up( remember the Tyrell Goulbourne experiment?). One way or another, a revamped (for lack of a better nickname) honey bee’s line or the original line with Scott Laughton slotting back in at center and Leier and Michael Raffl on the wings. That leaves Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Nolan Patrick as your top nine’s centers.

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Let Giroux go up against Crosby and see where the chips fall. I think he’s up for the task and has faith in his unbelievable talent. We already know how Coots matches up with Malkin who yes is playing quite well but he was in 2012 as well. He was 25 then and Couturier was 19. Do you think Malkin is that much better now than then?

Making an actual checking line that has the potential to score would be ideal but its main goal is to shut down Malkin’s line. So Hakstol should throw the dynamic ginger duo back together with Konecny and bring up Wayne Simmonds to the PatrickLindblom line, leaving Coots to center Weal and Read. A responsible group with speed. Then find the matchups that are working, shielding the Patrick line a bit if necessary.

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I believe this lineup is far more suitable for a team like Pittsburgh, and let’s face it, more teams are building their franchise on the Penguins model as opposed to the bigger, west coast blueprint.  As a coach, one must pull out all the stops to get a W in the playoffs and if they are going to win against an interstate rival, the Flyers will need to do just that.